Using 'Borneo States' term a long overdue move, says Sarawak minister

KUCHING: Using the term "Borneo States" in reference to Sarawak and Sabah is a long overdue move which fixes the perspective of the Malaysian Agreement 1963, says Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The Sarawak lawmaker and PBB vice-president said after the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Sabah and Sarawak have been wrongly deemed as just another state instead of being equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia.

"The Federal Constitution specifically states that Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia, the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, and Singapore, which later left the Federation," he said.

Abdul Karim then added that somehow, Sabah and Sarawak were seen as just another state over the years.

"When Sarawak helped form Malaysia, it only went into an agreement with Peninsular Malaysia. We never signed any agreement with the other states," he said.

"So this amendment (to refer Sarawak and Sabah as the Borneo states) will put us back in the right perspective," said Abdul Karim at a press conference here on Thursday (Dec 2).

The state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister was speaking to reporters at the Kuching International Airport after welcoming the inaugural Malaysia Airlines' Penang-Kuching direct flight.

On Wednesday (Dec 1), Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Hanifah Taib in the Dewan Rakyat said Sarawak and Sabah would no longer be known as "East Malaysia" but as the "Borneo States" following amendments to the Federal Constitution.

"This is a long overdue decision. I hope we never go back there again. Hopefully, no future prime minister will do that again," said Abdul Karim.

On Nov 3, the government tabled a Bill for first reading in Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution to restore Sabah's and Sarawak's position in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Apart from Article 1(2) of the Constitution, other amendments include Article 160(2) to include designating Sept 16 as Malaysia Day.

Also significant are amendments to Article 161A to confer the status of a native to the offspring of a native married to a non-native in Sarawak.

The amendments are expected to be passed in the current Parliament meeting which ends on Dec 16.

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