MA63: More allocation to be given to Sabah, Sarawak

Putrajaya will help expedite several projects in Sabah and Sarawak, and will set aside more funds for the East Malaysian states.

These, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, are among the steps that will be taken to further honour Malaysia Agreement 1963, better known as MA63.

“It is for the current leadership to respect the wisdom of the past leaders, and to try to get it done as soon as possible,” said Anwar, at a press conference this afternoon.

“The Cabinet discussed and agreed to speed up several projects. The Finance Ministry also agreed that projects under RM50 million can be carried out by Kota Kinabalu or Kuching, in accordance with the processes.”

Anwar said the special council to oversee the implementation of MA63 will hold a meeting in Kuching by the end of this month.

The council is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and will be attended by Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

He reiterated that Putrajaya will review the annual special grants to Sabah and Sarawak, almost ensuring an increase in the allocation to both the states.

Anwar also spoke about the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, adding that more should be allocated to complete the highway project connecting the two Borneo states.

Last September, Fadillah, who was then Works minister, said the first phase of the Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak was 86 per cent complete, with several more sections expected to be completed this year.

East Malaysians were eager to see if the federal government would honour the original terms and conditions of the agreement, signed in July 1963, that saw North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore, joining the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia.

The document was also signed by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, making it an international agreement.

According to MA63, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore are allies or equals within the Federation, and each has autonomy. Singapore, however, left the union in 1965 to be an independent country.

MA63 changed after the Constitutional Amendment of 1976, which listed Sabah and Sarawak as states, rather than as distinct entities.

After years of discussions, Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was amended last December to restore Sabah and Sarawak to their former status as equals.