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Government, opposition leaders dispute Anwar’s claim
Published on: Tuesday, June 04, 2024
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Government, opposition leaders dispute Anwar’s claim
From left: Jeffrey, Shafie, Pandikar and Salleh.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah leaders on both sides of the political divide have taken issue with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s statement that the Federal Government has allocated RM16 billion to the State.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the actual allocation stands at only RM6.2 billion, substantially lower than the figure cited by Anwar.

“We respect the Prime Minister for mentioning the RM16 billion. But we must raise this issue until it is resolved. If we don’t raise this issue, they will forget,” Jeffrey said, expressing concern over the discrepancy.

The dispute revolves around the constitutionally mandated special grants that Sabah and Sarawak are entitled to receive annually from the Federal Government. 

The Constitution stipulates that Sabah should receive a grant equivalent to 40 per cent of the higher figure from the net revenue obtained in 1963.

Jeffrey wondered how Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister, could arrive at the RM16 billion figure without consulting the State Government. 

“That figure was not disclosed to us,” Jeffrey said.

Parti Warisan Persident Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal reiterated that Sabah’s 40pc claim is enshrined in the Federal Constitution under the MA63, setting it apart from fiscal demands by other states. 

Speaking at an event in Pulau Sebatik on Saturday, Shafie stressed that the 40 per cent claim is based on a unique constitutional provision not applicable to peninsula states like Penang, which recently sought a 20 per cent share of taxes collected in the State. 

“This 40 per cent issue has been bothering the people of Sabah since 1974 when it was last reviewed,” Shafie said, expressing confidence it can be resolved. 

The Court of Appeal will rule on June 18 regarding the Federal Government’s appeal against letting the Sabah Law Society proceed with a judicial review on the 40 per cent entitlement issue.

Fellow Gabungan Rakyat Sabah partner United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) President Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said Anwar’s statement has added confusion among the people of Sabah. 

At the “Beyond MA63 – Hala Tuju Anak Merdeka” ceremony held in Dewan Sri Putatan on Sunday, Pandikar questioned where the RM16 billion figure came from.

He said it contradicted Sabah’s own Finance Minister who had said the State repeatedly (eight times) asked for the actual entitlement figures from Putrajaya but to no avail.

“The Prime Minister’s statement does not clarify or calm the minds of the people of Sabah but causes more confusion because we want to know where the RM16 billon comes from and why it is more than our 40 per cent claim,” said Pandikar. 

Pandikar said that based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 which led to the formation of Malaysia, Sabah has an automatic right to receive 40 per cent of revenue derived from the State.

He said the Prime Minister’s claim that RM16 billion was more than this 40 per cent entitlement made no sense as the percentage had not been reviewed since 1974. 

“For me, what I see from the historical documents is that the 40 per cent is clearly stated as an automatic right for Sabah’s participation in the formation of Malaysia,” he said. 

He urged Federal leaders, especially those holding top positions currently, to educate themselves on Sabah’s history and the agreements made during the formation of Malaysia. 

He said their lack of understanding of this crucial context was worrying. 

“I suggest peninsular leaders, from Malaya, from Putrajaya, please read the history of the formation of Malaysia first then you will understand what we are claiming now,” Pandikar said. 

Former Chief Minister and Federal Minister Datuk Salleh Said Keruak urged federal government officials to “sit down and work out a mechanism” for calculating the amount of the special grant due to Sabah.

He said the push by Sabahans for a share of its net tax revenue had nothing to do with the amount but with what was stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof told FMT that the Finance Ministry is working on a formula for special grant payments, in collaboration with the governments of Sarawak and Sabah.

He said Anwar was determined to resolve the issue and had suggested allocating RM300 million as an interim measure while the long-term formula is being worked out.

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