KOTA KINABALU: The presence of non-local parties in the Sabah government is not a stumbling block to the Bornean states working together to claim their rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), says Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.
The Sabah Umno chief and Deputy Chief Minister said the issue, raised by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Sarawak (PBB) vice president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, was non-existent.
"This is just his personal view," Bung Moktar said in a statement on Wednesday (May 25).
He added that Sabah leaders would always fight for the development of the Bornean states as enshrined in MA63.
"Whether national or local parties (govern Sabah), the people's rights will be (safeguarded) in line with MA63," he said.
Abdul Karim was quoted by a news portal as saying that it was difficult for Sarawak and Sabah to work effectively with each other to pursue their rights under MA63 as Sabah was under the control of non-local parties.
Referring to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Umno, which are members of the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-Barisan Nasional (GRS-Barisan) coalition, he said ministers from these parties had to refer to their superiors in the peninsula first before they could agree on important policy matters such as MA63.
Bung Moktar disagreed with this perspective, saying that Sabah actually has an advantage as national parties are able to communicate directly with their top leaders across the South China Sea on issues concerning development.
He said being aligned to the ruling national party was certainly a help and not a hindrance.
"The objectives of national and local parties are similar, to protect the people's rights, but the difference is getting the necessary assistance quickly and easily," he added.
The Kinabatangan MP added that Sabah experienced a development boom when it was aligned to the Federal Government before the general election in 2018.
He said progress was made without any necessity to rebel or take matters to court as the state government then only had to "whisper" to Federal leaders to get much-needed allocations.
Bung Moktar said when Sabah was under the rule of local parties, the level of development was not obvious.
Towards this end, he felt Abdul Karim, who is Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister, should not have aired his personal view on the matter.
"It could jeopardise the good relations between the state and federal governments as well as hamper the Prime Minister's Malaysian Family concept, which is aimed at bringing equal development to all states," he said.