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  • Writer's pictureIlona Andrew


Sabahans question the progress of MA63 implementation throughout one year of Muhyiddin's premiership.

20 Mar 2021

By Ilona Andrew

KOTA KINABALU: When Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stepped up as Malaysia’s eighth Prime Minster last year, Sabahans were hopeful that their rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) will continue to be honoured.

But today, some of them pointed out that they have yet to see any significant changes in that matter, even after his one-year stewardship.

“Previously, he said he will be making a special announcement regarding the implementation of MA63. It turned out that it was merely the forming of another Special Council. I think It’s redundant.

“Even until today, Muhyiddin continues to go on about how he is committed to ensuring that Sabah and Sarawak are given fair treatment, but he is all bark and no bite,” said Jennifer Tugung from Penampang.

Jennifer Tugung

After the announcement was made last year on September 16, the Special Council on the MA63 had only met once on Dec 2 last year and there has been no news of a follow-up meeting since then.

“After one year, Muhyiddin is seen to be incapable of providing progressive leadership, and instead continues to mislead the rakyat out of political self-interest.

“I can’t even think of anything commendable that has been done by him (Muhyiddin) just yet. And I think the worst decision he has made was to declare the state of Emergency and suspend the Parliament,” she commented, adding that Parliament plays an essential role as guardian of democracy, especially during times of crisis.

Jennifer also regarded the cabinet line-ups under the prime minister as incompetent and “too Malay-centric” as they do not represent enough Chinese, Indian and even of Borneo natives.

“Our nation deserves better… Stop political move to hold on to political power. Focus on the rakyat, economy, and job losses due to the pandemic,” she quipped.

She also lamented that the instructions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued throughout the movement control orders (MCOs) are too messy and confusing.

Another Sabahan who questioned the absence of progress made on the MA63 issue by the Perikatan Nasional government spearheaded by Muhyiddin is Artobelly Evali.

Artobelly Evali

“I don’t think Muhyiddin really cares about Sabah and Sarawak as there has been no equitable development in restoring the equal partnership under MA63 even though he has been at the helm for one year now.

“He recently stated the need to step up efforts to treat Sabah and Sarawak fairly, but we all know there is nothing to hurrah about. As long as there are no actions, there are just rhetoric and false promises,” he asserted.

However, the 27-year-old lad reckoned that some of Muhyiddin’s efforts still deserve acknowledgement and a round of applause, especially when he successfully handled and controlled the Covid-19 pandemic with the imposition of MCO.

“Despite being known as ‘the backdoor government’, we have to admit that he managed to handle the pandemic wisely both at the government and grassroots levels.

“But what I am disappointed in the most is when the government went on with the move to appeal a High Court ruling that effectively allows Christians to use the word ‘Allah’.

“This goes to show that the Federal Government is the least concern about the religion sensitivity of Sabah and Sarawak.

“I wouldn’t want him as Malaysia’s next prime minister. Besides his little concern over the MA63 issue, the move he and his government made in the ‘Allah’ issue has certainly made us Sabahans and Sarawakians feel alienated,” he said.

Artobelly also mentioned that the old political mindset of Muhyiddin and his line-ups needs to go. However, he did not disclose who thinks is best suited as the next prime minister.

For a local tourism industry player Esther Koh, she said the process of giving back Sabah and Sarawak rights, which started when Pakatan Harapan was in power, has now seemed to be forgotten or ignored.

Esther Koh

“The MA63 issue is still a question mark. Now, it seems like Muhyiddin is giving Sabahans the cold shoulder over this issue.

“Sarawak has already settled the petroleum sales tax issues with Petronas and I hope Sabah will also collect its sales tax on oil and gas soon,” the 32-year-old expressed.

Despite his unprecedented effort in honouring MA63, Esther said Muhyiddin’s leadership deserves praise especially for the continuous rolling out stimulus packages to help the people put up with the challenges which she was thankful for.

She also expressed hope that the prime minister would give more attention towards the deteriorated tourism industry impacted by the pandemic and those behind it.

Hazel Isadora believed that Muhyiddin does care for Sabah and Sarawak, but his sincerity to resolve the implementation of MA63 remains questionable.

Hazel Isadora

“The establishment of the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Ministry was a commendable effort, but we have yet to see the ministry do anything significant.

“But so far, after one year of Muhyiddin’s premiership, it has been good albeit there is a need for improvement.

“The government handled the first wave of Covid-19 quite well. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the second wave. There were just too many contradicting standard operating procedures (SOPs),” she said.

According to Hazel, she also opposed to some of the government’s moves such as the declaration of Emergency and challenging the High Court’s decision on ‘Allah’ issue.

Meanwhile, for Ridley Sindakau, all he hopes for is for the prime minister to do more to help the national economy recover from the pandemic.

Ridley Sindikau

The foodpanda rider said, Muhyiddin may seem like a lenient leader but he truly believes that the 73-year-old prime minister will give fair treatment to Sabah and Sarawak by ensuring their rights as stipulated under MA63.

“It’s just that there are other problems caused by the pandemic that need to be addressed first now. I believe he is capable of alleviating the national crises just like how he managed to cushion the impacts of pandemic since a year ago,” he said.

Nonetheless, Ridley expressed his disagreement when Muhyiddin resorted to national emergency declaration early this year, believing that the move seems to be politically driven.

“After all of this, I believe that a general election is the answer to this political uncertainty which should be done when the Covid-19 virus is completely under control,” he added.

It was announced on Saturday that Muhyiddin will make a two-day official visit to Sabah beginning March 21 which aims to strengthen cooperation between the state and federal governments.


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