Make the constitutional amendment to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia the first bill to be tabled in the year 2021

I would like to express my solidarity with Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Rakyat Sabah (STAR) sole Member of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat Dr. Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan for launching what is described by the media as a “thinly-veiled dig” at the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government for renegading from its obligation to pay a special grant annually amounting to 40% of net revenue derived from Sabah as enshrined under the Federal Constitution.

Jeffrey himself admitted it, that the federal government under Perikatan Nasional pays Sabah only RM26.7 million under the Federal Constitution. The only reason I can think of why Jeffrey would resort to his tirade against the federal government openly in the media instead of communicating within the system is because there is no such system within PN for grouses to be heard in the first place, and that Jeffrey has reached a dead end with such recalcitrance.

The timing of Jeffrey’s statement is so ironic as Tan Sri Muhyiddin had just recently announced that Sabah and Sarawak are “Regions” and not “States”. Does this mean that the Prime Minister’s announcement is merely lip service and in actual fact has no substance? Does this also mean that Jeffrey, being a Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, is being ignored within PN and cannot even convince his coalition partners in PN to right what is wrong, as far as Sabah & Sarawak are concerned? In this regard, I am in solidarity with Jeffrey. PN should not ignore Jeffrey’s “thinly-veiled dig” for it may lead to the downfall of PN.

During the previous Pakatan Harapan’s rule of the federal government, plans to pay the special grant for Sabah and Sarawak had been on track. This can be seen via Budget 2020 where former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has started to increase the amount for the special grant from RM26.7million to RM53.4million, doubling every five years, and the 40% entitlement would be achieved gradually according to plan. Unluckily, the plan had not work out after falling of Pakatan Harapan federal government.

Even for the implementation of Malaysia Agreement 1963, the federal government under Pakatan Harapan had resolved 17 out of 21 issues. Whereas now, the PN government seems to have taken no concrete action whatsoever to resolve the remaining issues pertaining to MA63 review.

These all show that PH has plan and heart to implement, while PN can only talk but take no action. The situation was so bad and has boiled over that even Jeffrey became so frustrated that he had to air his view via media in a “thinly-veiled dig”.

Pakatan Harapan had previously attempted to revert Sabah & Sarawak to its original position within the Federation of Malaysia by tabling a bill to amend the constitution. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 tabled by the Pakatan Harapan federal government under the then Minister of Law the late Liew Vui Keong was simple, namely to revert the current Constitution back to the wordings as per the 1963 version of the Constitution. Then, MPs such as Jonathan Yasin, Arthur Kurup, Dr. Maximus, Anifah Aman, and even Dr. Jeffrey had all supported the Bill. It was such a good showing. However, the Bill had been defeated due to PAS, UMNO and GPS refusing to let Pakatan Harapan getting the credit.

All being said and done, I would like to hereby challenge Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to call for parliament sitting in June, after Raya and all MPs vaccinated, and to put the Bill to amend the constitution to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia as the first bill to be tabled in Parliament in the year of 2021.

Hereby, I would like to urge Jonathan Yasin, Arthur Kurup, Dr. Maximus and also Dr. Jeffrey to support the call to have parliament sitting in June, so that we can raise the issues in parliament and resolve them once and for all.

Chan Foong Hin
Media statement by Chan Foong Hin in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday, 7th April 2021