PENAMPANG – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday the federal government has no intention and right to take anything that rightfully belongs to Sabah and its people as provided for in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The Prime Minister said that if anything had been taken inadvertently, it must be returned.
“This is our struggle. It is not the struggle of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) alone. It is our joint struggle. I share your sentiments,” he said when opening the PBS 32nd annual delegates conference here.
Also present at the opening were Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman; Deputy Chief Minister and PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan; Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister and PBS deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and leaders of other Barisan Nasional component parties.
Najib, who is BN chairman, said the people of Sabah had the right to talk about or discuss their rights in the MA63 without fear of any action against them.
“If you want to talk about the MA63, please go ahead. I will not imprison anyone for that. Datuk Seri Dr Maximus had ‘rested’ for 60 days under the ISA (Internal Security Act), because ‘that person’ sent him in under the ISA. What I want is for us to be fair,” he said.
Najib said all quarters should give some time to the federal government to study the interpretation of the laws associated with MA63 as there were too many interpretations depending on who did the interpretation.
He said the willingness of the BN government to listen to the complaints of the people of Sabah, including on MA63 and illegal immigrants, proved that the future of the people of this country and in Sabah under the BN was bright.
“We can see this. Yesterday, we announced Malaysia’s economic growth of 6.2 per cent (in the third quarter of 2017), among the highest in the world. We have done various things. Construction of the Pan Borneo Highway is progressing well. The MRT Line 1 in Kuala Lumpur is ready. All these reflect the future of Malaysia. We will safeguard all these, including the security of the people of Sabah,” he said.
As such, Najib said, the people of Sabah should be convinced that their best option is the BN while the opposition parties were in disarray, including one which amended its constitution without complying with its provisions.
“Those are not our laws. They did not adhere to their own rules. How are they going to administer the country?” he said.
Najib said the federal government under his leadership would continue to develop Sabah with the cooperation of the leaders from Sabah whom he described as good leaders.
“Sabah will continue to be successful. We have good leaders in Sabah who can cooperate with me. Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa (Aman), PBS are our loyal friends. We can solve the problem of illegal immigrants, we can solve the problem of customary land,” he said.
Najib said the people of Sabah could not rely on the opposition parties which he said were good only at making promises because Sabah needed a government that could ensure an excellent future for the people.
The Prime Minister then asked the delegates whether they were ready for the next general election, and they responded that they were.
“If you are convinced, then I am also convinced that the general election can be called,” he said.
Earlier, in his policy speech, PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the party wanted serious attention to be given to the three key issues raised in memorandums to the National Committee on Sabah Rights in the Federation of Malaysia and to Najib.
He said the issues were on the rights embodied in the MA63 encompassing Borneonisation, the devolution of powers to Sabah and incorporating the history on the formation of Malaysia in the school syllabus.
“We hope that the proposal, complaints and dissatisfaction submitted to the committee at the federal level will be given serious attention,” he said when addressing the delegates.
Pairin said that though there was an improvement in the appointment of senior federal public officers from among Sabahans, he wanted more Sabahans to be appointed to such posts including in statutory bodies, government-linked companies and local universities in Sabah or the peninsula.
He also said that PBS wanted the federal government to consider improving and refining the information on the history of the formation of Malaysia in the national education syllabus, covering the Cobbold Commission Report, the 20-point agreement on Sabah and 18-point agreement on Sarawak, the inter-government committee and MA63.
He said the facts on the formation of Malaysia in school history text books were too brief and, with the improvement, the future generations would be better able to understand and appreciate the formation of Malaysia.
Pairin also said that PBS welcomed and supported efforts by various quarters, especially BN component parties, to restore the rights of Sabahans as set out in MA63.
He said Sabahans could discuss MA63 issues openly during Najib’s administration but they were regarded as sensitive under the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the people were afraid to raise the matter for fear of detention under the then Internal Security Act.
Pairin also questioned why Dr Mahathir had recently offered to look into the issues when he did not do so while in power for 22 years.
He hoped that Najib would not ignore the rights of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia, and said that the Prime Minister was always concerned about resolving issues amicably through negotiations.