KOTA KINABALU: The recent trip to London by a team of Federal and Sabah Government officials had not been 'a waste of time', said Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who led the delegates.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) said that the trip was fruitful as the delegates including himself managed to see for themselves the original copies of documents relating to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
"I have just returned from London and it has not been a waste of time as claimed by many. I saw and touched these documents, many of which used to be classified but now, declassified," said the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president.
Maximus said there were also documents in the Cobbold Commission - a commission of enquiry to find out whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak agreed to be part of the formation of the federation of Malaysia - that he saw and read.
"For example, I found out that Sabahans at the time were mainly divided about this matter. A third of them agreed to joining the formation while a third would only agree if terms and conditions were set and met," he said.
"The remaining one third were divided into two groups - one (40% of respondents) said they did not want to join in the formation and the rest (60%) said 'yes' but only after they gained independence from the British," he said.
Maximus said there were pieces of information like 'wanting to know what Malaya can do for Sabah', and whether joining in the formation of the federation would see Sabah, which was known as Borneo at that time, 'end up losing its wealth and resources' recorded.
All this handwritten information was property stored in the archives in London, he said.
"It was never a waste of time and energy to go to London to get this information and we held discussions with some Sarawakian leaders who were also present," he stressed.
Maximus said what was left for the state and federal government to work out was its implementation on state rights.
"The Sabah government will have to sit down and discuss this. We need to analyse what action can be taken and used by the Sabah Government to support their claims," he said.
He said at the moment, those in the committee talking about the state rights under the MA63 were focusing on issues related to finance, Continental Shelves and boundaries, among others.
Maximus said ultimately, it would be up to the Sabah Government to take whatever they needed to up, while the federal side would provide the avenue and space on the specific claims brought up.
"We’ve got the data, it is now up to you (Sabah Government) to push and pursue," he said, adding that his job was also to ensure that the overall process was done correctly and justly.
He also reminded the public that Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had mentioned that the matter would be brought to court if negotiations between the parties involved failed to reach a consensus.
On other matters, he said PBS had always been vocal and against anti-party hopping and hopes that the Bill to pass an anti-hopping law will be passed in Parliament during its sitting this July.