KOTA KINABALU: Resolving outstanding grouses and unhappiness of Sabah and Sarawak are the top priority of Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who wants to see the Malaysian federation strengthened.
Ongkili, the newly-appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs, said his key job was to address long-standing grouses from the two states.
“Over the years there are threats and barriers to strengthening the federation. My job is to strengthen the federation in terms of addressing these issues from these two states, ” he said on his return here on Thursday.
He said his immediate priority was to push for Sabah and Sarawak to be recognised as equal partners in the federation, which the previous Pakatan Harapan government failed to do in Parliament last April as the vote failed to get two-thirds support.
“I want to address the definition of Malaysia under Article 1(2) of the Constitution, where we want to include the words ‘as per Malaysia Agreement 1963’ to clearly define the make up of the federation, ” he said, adding that Pakatan Harapan lost its support to amend it last year because Sarawak and some from Sabah wanted the words “as per MA63” to be included in the amendment.
“We want it spelt out, and the government of the time did not include it. I spoke to the Prime Minister about this and he is in support of it. We hope to get this done within the next six months, ” he said.
He said other issues of concern to Sabah and Sarawak included the federal commitment to give back 40% of all revenue derived from the two states.
“Matters of rights, petroleum royalty issues, development issues and other grouses on why the two states were lagging behind in economy and infrastructure will be addressed over the next 30 months, ” he said.
Ongkili said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin made it clear there was no need to study the issues anymore, but to list out those that need to be resolved immediately.
He said the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, had told him he wanted to resolve Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem quickly and transparently.
Other issues, he said, included ensuring federal funds are correctly channelled as there were many cases of such funds not reaching the ground.
“My ministry was created to solve problems, ” he said, dismissing claims that his ministry was going to be another complaints bureau for Sabah and Sarawak.
“We can resolve all these grouses. We will take the bull by the horns, we can make Malaysia stronger. The PM wants to solve them through practical solutions.”
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