The Sabah Pakatan Harapan leadership council has strongly urged for the final report of the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63) to be made public, reminding the government that it was one of the key agendas in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Political Transformation and Stability.
It said that this is an opportunity for all to appreciate and understand the significance and importance of MA63.
"Historical and factual misinterpretation over MA63 has been one of the reasons why the full implementation of MA63 is still a challenge even after 58 years of the formation of Malaysia.
"It is time that the federal government must take the responsible approach of laying out the facts truthfully as it is.
"Enough has been done to whittle away the rights of Sabah and Sarawak over the years," said Sabah Harapan leaders Christina Liew (above), Wilfred Madius Tangau, Frankie Poon Ming Fung and Lahirul Latigu in a joint statement.
Under Harapan, the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was brought to Parliament to amend the MA63 but it failed to obtain the two-thirds majority support from MPs required to amend Clause 2, Article 1 of the Constitution.
"In the previous Harapan federal government, a total of 17 out of 21 matters tabled by the Sabah and Sarawak governments at the cabinet special committee meeting to review the implementation of MA63 were jointly approved.
"The remaining four issues are pertaining to oil royalty issues and petroleum cash payments; oil minerals and oil fields; Territorial Sea Act 2012 (Act 750) and state rights over the continental shelf.
"There was transparency in how the discussions took place between the federal government and the state government of Sabah and Sarawak. The composition of the committees that were formed were also made known to the public," they added.
Don't bury report under OSA
The leaders claimed that regretfully, the same cannot be said with the new federal government and the previous Perikatan Nasional government.
"The public has no knowledge of the existence and composition of any committees and there is no detailed explanation or transparency on the efforts made to continue the implementation of MA63.
"Now, they want to bury the final report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). What is there to be afraid of by this government?" they asked.
They said that Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Maximus Ongkili as a Sabahan should appreciate that to ensure MA63 is fully respected and implemented, it is important that every stakeholder understands and supports it.
"By being transparent of the process and making the final report public, it would be an opportunity to educate and impress upon the nation and its people that MA63 is a matter of national importance and not only the concerns of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
"Its successful fulfilment will be a catalyst to drive Malaysia forward with its people united together to guide its leaders in ensuring the success of this nation as how our forefathers had envisioned when they signed the agreement in 1963," the leaders added.