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KOTA KINABALU, Oct 14, 2018:

All former Sabah and Sarawak leaders were on the same page, as far as upholding the rights of both states and its people as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“(In fact) All Cabinet Ministers from East Malaysia were made members of the Cabinet Technical Committee on Devolution of Power and MA63 for Sabah and Sarawak, chaired jointly by former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datin Paduka Nancy Shukri.

“Not a single minister disagreed or failed to support the two state's demand for autonomy and devolution of powers consistent with the provisions and charter of MA63. To my knowledge, all ministers defended the MA63 and most Barisan Nasional member parties, including Parti Bersatu Sabah, tabled or submitted memorandums on matters to be addressed to the Committee through the Attorney General, who acted as Secretary to the Committee,” PBS Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili explained.

He, therefore, described Anifah’s recent statement stating that no federal ministers from the previous government were willing to fight for MA63 with him as “inaccurate and misleading”.

Ongkili noted that it was so misleading of Anifah to say no ministers backed him on MA63 when all East Malaysian federal cabinet ministers were equally concerned and forthright as him in demanding immediate resolution to outstanding state right matters, especially given that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was very open to giving concessions and amicable compromise in many matters, including oil and gas, mining, energy, and Borneonisastion, to mention some.

“PBS will persist in defending and fighting for Sabah's rights as enshrined in MA63. In the past our stand was perceived as anti-Federal and some of us paid dearly for it through prosecution and arrests under the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA).  

“Those intimidations didn't dent our fervour for justice and autonomy, for the PBS struggle is truly for Sabah and better Malaysia.

“We need to set the record straight because we want to avoid further politicking. The immediate task was to demand for action and realise real autonomy,” said Ongkili, who is also the Kota Marudu Member of Parliament.

He further added that PBS set up three High Level Committees comprising senior party leaders, ex-civil servants and practicing professionals.

The Committees were focussed on MA63 safeguards namely the High Court of Borneo, Borneonisastion and education.

“The recommendations for action were submitted to Prime Minister (Najib), former Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, Special Task Minister Teo Chee Kang, as Chairman of State Committee on Devolution of Power, Anifah, Nancy and the federal AG. A copy of the submission is available from PBS website:,” he said.

Ongkili noted that matters on Sabah rights, as contained in MA63, are foundational to the PBS struggle and Constitution since the party's formation in 1985. 

“We believe no other single party has been persistent and consistent in speaking and defending State rights aside from PBS.

“One can check the annual PBS Congress speeches of President (Tan Sri) Pairin of the past 32 years. Not a single speech failed to address Sabah's rights in the federation. There are of course many newcomers to the field, which we welcome indeed.

“Where we disagreed with Anifah was in the approach taken to derive proposals and recommendations for action by the federal government.

“Anifah chose to work with the opposition parties and other non-governmental organisations  Sabah. We, in PBS, took the view that since we were the government, it's best government parties assisted by concerned public interest groups do the job of submission.

“After all the grouse, dissatisfaction, complaints and demands are well known ... what's needed is action by the federal government,” he said.

Ongkili therefore stressed that PBS pledge its desire to cooperate and forge partnership with all concerned Sabahans, including Anifah, in our common pursuit of defending Sabah's rights and ensuring that MA63 is respected and honoured.

"Although the list of demands for devolution and autonomy is still long, a lot of positive action in devolution matters have been carried out by last federal government. It is hoped these decisions will not be reversed or abandoned by the present Parti Harapan-led government," he stressed.

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