KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says his Madani government has worked faster during its term so far to restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) compared to past governments.
The Prime Minister said the MA63 was an agreement inherited from the nation’s forefathers and must be fulfilled.
“But this has been delayed with many excuses, hence the reason why I instructed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof to chair the necessary meetings and expedite what is required.
“What we have done in a year, (has been more) than the decades before,” he said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ulu Padas hydroelectric dam project in the interior Tenom district on Thursday (Dec 7).
Anwar said, among others, Putrajaya has handed over full regulatory control of the electricity supply to Sabah as well as given authority to Sabah and Sarawak to approve development projects below RM50mil.
ALSO READ: PM has shown commitment to MA63, say pundits
He said, however, there have been instances where political figures in Sabah twisted the facts in order to stoke sentiments among the people.
“If it is factual then I have no problem, I was also a staunch critic of the government before. But if they twist the facts, then I have to defend what we are doing,” he said.
Towards this end, he said the good relations between him and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor have made it easier to address problems that needed attention in Sabah.
Anwar said Hajiji had requested projects and infrastructure from the Federal Government for Sabah for the benefit of its people.
“This good relation between the state and federal governments helps expedite (the implementation) of projects for the comfort of Sabahans,” he said.
The Prime Minister also countered claims from certain quarters that Putrajaya was not sensitive to development needs in the state, saying such allegations were untrue.
He pointed out Sabah was allocated RM6.6bil for development under Budget 2024, adding this was the highest in history.
“This is because I listen to the views from our friends.
“Sabah needs water and electricity supply, roads, schools and other basic facilities more than other states, that is why we gave it attention,” Anwar said.
He added that the state was also allocated some RM7.8bil for operating expenditure.
“So, it’s a total of RM16bil a year for Sabah, this is among the biggest allocations for any state.
“But there have been PAS MPs who criticised me, asking why am I giving so much to Sabah.
“(My answer is) because Sabah is lagging behind. The state has been independent with Malaysia since 1963 but yet the energy and water supply issues are more serious compared to peninsular states,” he said.
On tourism, Anwar said the Federal Government would consider adding another terminal at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport considering the high influx of tourists coming back to Sabah post-Covid-19.
He said he had received glowing reviews from people, including the South Korean president whose family had visited Sabah.
“The president said his family told him that (Sabah) was among the most beautiful places in the region, and was also, most importantly, impressed with the friendliness of Sabahans.
“So, if there is a need for another terminal, I have told the Chief Minister, we will look into adding one in Kota Kinabalu,” he said.