KOTA KINABALU: Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin (pic) says it is a waste of time for the Sabah government to push for the constitutional amendment to Article 1(2) that aims to restore Sabah and Sarawak's status as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
The veteran Sabah politician instead said leaders should focus on "pushing for a new deal" where they know exactly what they are asking for, as calls for equal partnership at present do not have proper basis.
"There is no point in restoring old wordings just to uphold the manifesto (during the election).
"We as Sabahans must accept that Malaysia is an extension of (federation of) Malaya, who allowed us to use their constitution (to form Malaysia).
"How can Sabah claim to be equal when at the time the Federation of Malaya had already been independent for seven years. It is not logical for them to 'merdeka' twice, that would mean they have to return to United Nations (UN) again.
"The Malaysia Agreement 1963 is a done deal, we must figure what we want if there is a new deal.
"We tell the federal government what we need and stop spinning facts for political mileage that riles up the grassroots," he said during a talk organised by think-tank Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (SEEDS) on Saturday (April 20) evening.
He said the same thing about celebrating Sept 16 or Aug 31 as the date of Independence, saying it was politicians who played up the issue.
"We should be ashamed if this is what is happening after all the efforts by Tun Fuad Stephens to sit down with the (federation of) Malaya and United Kingdom officials (to secure freedom)," said Pandikar.
He suggested that the way forward would include identifying the state government's residual power which overlapped with the federal government, such as those related to tourism tax and environmental issues.
Pandikar also urged the state to identify guarantees and what had been covered in the Constitution that has not been executed by the federal government, for instance the 40% tax that should be given to Sabah and Sarawak in line with Schedule 10 of the Constitution.
There is also a need to identify things that are not written in the Constitution, but could be implemented administratively to safeguard Sabah's rights, such as clear definition of "Federation" to avoid further confusion in future.
Meanwhile, SEEDS fellow Nelson Wences Angang, who is United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) secretary-general, said Sabahans would at least have something to show for future generations had the recent Bill to amend Article 1(2) been approved in Parliament.
"While the justification for restoring the equal partnership was based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the term (equal partnership) itself did not arise in any documents and is just based on what they think the founding fathers aspired to.
"In the recent Bill, Prime Minister has explained that it was to recognise us as equal partners.
"If we got the affirmation from the federal government, we won't need to dig up old news or old documents (to prove it)," Nelson said.