Sabah will never give up pursuing 40% revenue rights, says Hajiji


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will not relent in its pursuit of the 40% revenue entitlement owed by Putrajaya, said Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

The Chief Minister said the government will never give up the fundamental constitutional rights of the state in relation to the 40% net revenue special grant under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution.

Hajiji said this fact was reinforced by the Prime Minister in his 2023 Budget speech when he recognised and confirmed that the federal government is committed to improving the rate of the special grant compared to what was previously agreed and will expedite the negotiations to find a solution.

"This critical issue is now under the purview of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) technical committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

"We will continue to defend Sabah’s constitutional rights in relation to the existing revenue-sharing formula and this must be respected by the federal government.

"This includes the state's claim for the 'lost years' where there has been no review conducted from 1974 until recently," said Hajiji in a statement on Friday (May 17).

He said this a day after the state government intervened in the Attorney General’s appeal against a High Court decision to grant the Sabah Law Society (SLS) leave to challenge the 40% special constitutional grant provisions, catching the Sabahan public by surprise.

SLS had objected to the state government’s intervention but the AG, represented by a four-man team led by senior federal counsels Shamsul Bolhassan and Ahmad Hanir Hambaly, had no opposition to the matter.

The three-member Court of Appeal panel then granted the state government’s application to be an intervener and co-appellant against the leave granted to SLS by the Kota Kinabalu High Court.

Hajiji noted that there was an interim arrangement on a without-prejudice basis presently, where the state receives a higher amount than before pending further negotiations between the state and federal government to claim what is rightfully due to Sabah.

He said, pending the ongoing negotiations, the interim amounts have been increasing from RM125.6mil in 2022 and from the RM260mil announced in January 2023 to RM300mil in July 2023.

Although this fell short of what was expected, the Chief Minister said the state has been committed and consistent in seeking more from the federal government than ever before.

"In the meantime, let me be crystal clear, we respect the right of the SLS to commence legal proceedings on this matter.

"We recognise the important role that public interest litigation has in promoting the rule of law towards the fair and equitable administration of justice.

"The state government sees the initiative by the SLS in a positive light that is not partisan and not political in the common furtherance of the constitutional arrangements when Sabah formed Malaysia in 1963," Hajiji said.

While he did not want to pre-judge the outcome of the Court of Appeal, Hajiji said he shared the same sentiment as the rakyat of Sabah and hoped that any decision would be favourable to the state.

"Notwithstanding the ongoing proceedings in the Court of Appeal, we maintain the official demand of the Sabah government that the federal government is legally and constitutionally obligated to compensate Sabah for what is lawfully due as a special grant, both historically and for the future.

"This state right was negotiated prior to the formation of Malaysia and is enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It is the financial entitlement of the state.

"This stand is very much more than an aspiration," Hajiji said.

The Chief Minister added that the state will activate the constitutional provision to appoint an independent assessor to determine this issue and decide what the federal government is obligated to pay to Sabah if no agreement or solution is reached between the two governments on the revenue issue.

"I assure the rakyat of Sabah that we will not stop in our relentless pursuit of all the state rights due under MA63 and the Federal Constitution.

"This is our uncompromising and absolute position," said Hajiji.

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MA63 , SLS , state right , revenue , special grant , Hajiji , Sabah

   

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