No time frame: Dr M
Published on: Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government will work on returning equal rights to Sabah and Sarawak as soon as possible, but it cannot set a time frame for when this will take effect, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr Mahathir, who had on Sunday night reiterated PH's election manifesto promise to give the East Malaysian states recognition as per the Malaysia Agreement in 1963 (MA63), said it may take time to amend the Federal Constitution due to possible opposition in Parliament.

Anticipating a hard task in getting a two-thirds majority in the Parliament to pass amendments to the Federal Constitution for the changes that will be made in the MA63, he said:

"Well, at the moment, we (Pakatan Harapan) do not have the two-thirds majority which we will need in order to change the Constitution. So we will have to figure out how we can achieve the two-thirds majority.

"We will find out whether we can go to the Parliament and get the two-thirds. When they (opposition MPs) talk they will say something, but when they are there (in the Parliament) they get the whip to tell them not to support and all that, which then we will have a problem," he told reporters after having breakfast with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and other State Cabinet members, here, Monday.

Dr Mahathir said like recently when the PH Government wanted to repeal the Anti-Fake News Bill, "we thought they would support us but when we went to the Senate, we did not have the majority, so we lost."

"In the meantime, we will study what are the things that have to be repealed and substituted with new provisions in the Constitution, with regards to the MA63.

"There will also be some loss which we will have to look at," he said.

Asked whether it would involve health and education matters, Dr Mahathir said:

"Yes, I was told your schools are still made of wood which I think needs to be attended to. There are schools which still do not water supply or toilets, a lot of things need to be done here."

On the time needed for the completion of the review on MA63, Dr Mahathir said it would depend on the people who are working on it and the push by Sabah and Sarawak.

"The discussion on the MA63 will be held as soon as possible, but it is the process to achieve an agreement that may take time."

When asked on the equal partnership, Dr Mahathir said well, there are certain things which were decided in Kuala Lumpur by people who are not actually familiar with the conditions in Sabah and Sarawak which will have to be addressed.

"Either we will have more Sabahans and Sarawakians to work in the peninsula, in the Federal Government or else, we will need to have some of the decision-making transferred to Sabah and Sarawak," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said Sabah has the capability for rapid development having gone through much progress over the years.

He said he was impressed with Sabah's landscape after arriving in the State capital on Sunday for the Malaysia Day celebration here Sunday night and believed the State had strong potentials to be a developed State.

"I have not been to Sabah for a long, long time...the town is now quite clean. What I think should be done (to develop Sabah further) is to identify assets of Sabah, which can be exploited. You have land, mountain, seas, beaches and low temperatures, which may be good for vegetable-growing," he said.

Dr Mahathir also expressed concern for the high cost of living that the people in Sabah had to bear due to corruption in the previous administration, but did not deny that there were also other factors contributing to the high costs such as the implementation of the cabotage policy.

He also suggested Sabah could establish an automotive industry where car makers could assemble their products in the State.

"Industries can come here because in the future, Sabah is going to be a petrochemical producer as deepwater production will begin any time soon," he said. - Larry Ralon


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