KUDOS to the unity government for showing its commitment to resolving issues surrounding the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) through new initiatives under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim tabled the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025 mid-term review in the Dewan Rakyat.
The new initiatives include the relaxation of procurement rules and the handover of regulatory powers on gas to the Sabah government in January 2024.
Putrajaya will also hand over electricity regulatory powers to the state, a move that is expected to be finalised by next January.
Anwar also announced that Sabah and Sarawak will benefit from developing a sustainable and resilient transport and logistics infrastructure with the construction of the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road II and the Sabah Pan-Borneo Highway Phase 1B.
The Federal Government is also implementing the Sarawak Bumiputra Special Programme and the Sabah Natives Special Programme to increase local communities’ incomes.
All this is good, but the Federal Government should also fulfil other MA63 promises to foster further unity between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak.
The three entities, along with Singapore, formed the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, and the MA63 set out the terms and conditions for the country’s formation.
The Prime Minister has consistently stated that his government’s stand is that all agreements signed with Sabah and Sarawak, including MA63, must be respected and fulfilled.
As the country’s leader, Anwar acknowledged that he is responsible for ensuring the matter is resolved and that he is not just making political statements or promises merely to get support from Sabah and Sarawak.
“When we look at the state of development in Sabah and Sarawak, especially in the interior, I cannot deny that there are tasks that we have not completed well,” he was reported as saying.
Malaysians on the peninsula should also not worry about the Borneon states asserting their identity and history, such as Sabah Day, which commemorates the day the territory became independent 60 years ago on Aug 31.
It is long overdue.
We should also review how MA63 is presented in our history textbooks, as Senate president Tan Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar suggested, so that it may increase the younger generation’s understanding and awareness of its significances.