The number of representatives from Sarawak appointed into the steering committee formed to restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is not as important as their ability to put up their demands, according to Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairperson Chong Chieng Jen.
Chong, the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, also said that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg should be more courageous in facing the prime minister.
“The ball is in his court to make his demands for Sarawak to review the MA63, to make demands for the benefit of Sarawak and its people,” he said at a press conference in Kuching today.
Chong, who is also Sarawak DAP chairperson said that the state government needed to set their terms of reference and agendas for the technical committee to look into.
He added the state government had the full backing of Sarawakians on the MA63 issue.
The Sarawak chief minister had expressed his concern over the lack of balance in the composition of members sitting in the committee.
He reckoned that the majority of members in the committee should be from Sabah and Sarawak, since they were well-versed and understood better the wellbeing of the people in East Malaysia.
At the moment only eight representatives – five from Sabah and three from Sarawak – are in the steering committee as compared to the same number from Peninsular Malaysia.
The committee was initiated by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad to realise provisions enshrined in MA63. He was also appointed as the chairperson of the committee.
The committee members are Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Transport Minister Anthony Loke and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
Leaders from Sabah and Sarawak appointed into the committee include Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong, Works Minister Baru Bian, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, Abang Johari and Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Top government officials sitting in the committee included Chief Secretary to the Government Ismail Bakar, Chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, Sarawak Attorney-General Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid and Sabah Attorney-General Zaleha Rose Pandin.
Universiti Malaya law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi also sits on the committee.