The move to review the 53-year-old Malaysia Agreement is an act to solidify the nation, says Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan.
He said it also showed the government’s willingness to build the country based on what it originally aspired to be, besides to quell grouses of grassroots.
“We are quite happy that the federal government is receptive to the idea of revisiting what are the (people’s) rights that have been eroded, or that have not been put out (in the Federal Constitution), or may have been overlooked.
“Nobody has ever come out with (specific) details of the people’s rights (outlined in the Malaysia Agreement) and I think we should seize the opportunity to do so through the technical committee set up to study this matter,” he told Bernama here yesterday.
He said this after becoming a panelist in a recorded talk show for an online programme ‘Airtime with Ronnie Klassen’, scheduled to be uploaded to the programme’s Facebook page today.
In June, a technical committee, co-chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nancy Shukri, from Sarawak, and
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, from Sabah, was formed to study the devolution of power to both states.
The committee would work on identifying issues of non-compliance in the context of the Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC), Malaysia Agreement 1963, Malaysia Act 1963 and the Federal Constitution, as well as the Cobbold Commission Report, and to provide recommendations and solutions for the federal government to consider.
Tamparuli assemblyman Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said the review of the Malaysia Agreement was long overdue, as it should have been done 10 years after the country’s formation.
Nevertheless, he was pleased that the government was wise to tackle the people’s grouses by forming the technical committee.
Political differences aside, Sabah Parti Keadilan Rakyat secretary Datuk Maijol Mahap acknowledged that the opposition’s call to review the Malaysia Agreement was a show of love towards the country.
However, with the surge of information through social media platforms, he said, the government needed to be swift in addressing
the people’s unhappiness, especially on their rights which they believed were not being fulfilled.
Senior lecturer at University Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) Social Sciences Faculty, Dr Arnold Puyok said the government must be responsive to the people’s needs and ensure the people’s security.
This, he said, was also an act of patriotism on the part of the government in ensuring the wellbeing of the people.
Sarawak Reform Party president Lina Soo said details of the people’s rights were clearly explained in the Malaysia Agreement and therefore, should be executed.