MA63: Talk, talk and talk, with no results!

Francis Paul Siah

Modified 9 Mar 2019, 1:29 am

COMMENT | Is Sarawak rich or poor? My chief minister, Abang Johari Openg, has an answer to that.

“People say we are the third richest after Selangor and Wilayah. Yet inwardly, we are poor. This is something of a paradox. If you are rich, you are rich. If you are poor, you are poor. We have been described as a rich state, yet we are poor.

“Why? Because all the wealth goes to Putrajaya. The revenue that we get goes to Putrajaya,” he said at a dialogue session with the business community in Sibu on March 6.

I’m not sure if I have heard Abang Jo making such a direct claim and in such an affront manner before. Perhaps, he was thinking that he has been holding back long enough and it was time to say it out loud.

Or perhaps, the chief minister was under a lot of pressure from Sarawakians to declare his stand and make it known to Putrajaya.

A day earlier, the chief minister attended the Special Committee to Review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya.

After the meeting, Mahathir revealed that “there is little disagreement between the federal government and Sabah and Sarawak governments on the matter”.

He said several working papers tabled at the meeting would be referred to the technical committee for an in-depth study before they are discussed at the next meeting.

There it goes again - the same old MA63 tales. Meetings after meetings. Talk and more talk without tangible results. How many years have they been meeting and discussing? How many more years will they continue to do so? Patience is running thin among Sarawakians, and Sabahans as well.

After the prime minister’s statement, Sarawakians started to question Abang Jo’s stand on the MA63 negotiation, creating a hue-and-cry on social media. They expected a rebuttal from the chief minister to Mahathir’s perceived nonchalant stance on the agreement that led to the formation of Malaysia 56 years ago...

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