No need for special Sabah and Sarawak affairs ministry, says Armizan

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need for a full ministry overseeing Sabah and Sarawak affairs, says Datuk Armizan Ali (pic).

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Function and Sabah-Sarawak Affairs) said that it was unnecessary to form the new ministry as its functions could overlap with other existing portfolios.

“The mandate to establish the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Division (BHESS) was to facilitate and address issues pertaining to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” said Armizan.

“The issues raised related to MA63 will then be followed up by the relevant ministries for action. There is no need for possible overlap (if another ministry was established),” he added.

Armizan then said that the BHESS should be allowed to work as a secretariat to facilitate addressing Sabah and Sarawak issues without affecting the functions of other ministries.

He said this in response to Lo Su Fui (GRS-Tawau) in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (May 25).

Lo was asking the minister if there is a need for a specific Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Ministry to further expedite issues pertaining to the regions, including water and electricity.

On this, Armizan also said the establishment of a new ministry for Sabah and Sarawak could possibly affect the main goal of MA63; to provide more autonomy and empower the regions.

To a question about water issues faced by Sabah, he said the issue did not fall under the Federal Government's jurisdiction, as this is vested with the state government under the Federal Constitution.

"The Federal Government will always honour the rights and interests of the states and regions including the additional purview of Sabah and Sarawak," he said.

He also said that the relevant ministry has been in talks with the states that have been facing prolonged water issues.

"I was informed that negotiations to address the water issue in Kelantan and Sabah are ongoing.

The Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change has talked with Kelantan, while Sabah is still finalising its 'wishlist' (on water issues),” said Armizan.

“The Federal Government will not interfere in the rights and interests of Sabah," he added.

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