KOTA KINABALU: The Pakatan Harapan government is off to a good start in honouring the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
DAP national vice-chairman Chong Chieng Jen said while they acknowledge that things were not going as fast as hoped, many of the MA63 terms had been honoured.
He said the steering and technical committees formed to oversee these issues have already held meetings and completed their jobs.
“The report will be compiled and finalised but as far as MA63 is concerned, a lot has been covered,” he said during the Sabah DAP convention here on Sunday (Nov 24).
Chong, who is also Sarawak DAP chief, said the doubling of special grants for Sabah from RM26mil to RM54mil as announced in the 2020 Budget is proof that the new government was sincere about honouring promises.
“Yes, the numbers might not be what people here are expecting but for more than 40 years, there has been no attempt to review this special grant although it is stated that it is to be reviewed every five years,” he said.
“We did the review and doubled the amount within 18 months of coming into power with the promise to review it again in the next five years,” he said.
While acknowledging that there is much to be done and that it is a lengthy process to honour the MA63, Chong said what had been achieved so far showed the Government’s sincerity in keeping its promises.
“As representatives of the people, we should be talking about what has been done instead of what has not been achieved,” he said.
When asked about Sabah’s recent passing of a Bill that allows 18-year-olds to become state representatives, he said this was a good and progressive move.
He also assured critics that this would not mean that the state was going to see a whole Cabinet of 18-year-olds in it in future.
“It would be lucky if even one 18-year-old is chosen to sit in the Cabinet,” Chong said.
Sabah DAP Youth chief Phoong Jin Zhe said the Bill would empower young people and could help the public change their perceptions about the youth.
“This Bill will allow the public to see that we, as youths, can think rationally and make important decisions,” he said.
He said it would also allow youths to prove that they were able to shoulder responsibilities and voice out for other youths in the state.