Upko Youth Chief Arthur Sen says rather than debate, it is better to allow for a referendum to gather public opinion in Sabah and Sarawak.
KOTA KINABALU: The United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) is disappointed that there are still some Sabahans who believe Sabah and Sarawak are of equal status with other states in the country.
Upko Youth chief Arthur Sen pointed out that under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Sabah and Sarawak are actually regions just like the Federation of Malaya and not the states within that federation.
Prior to 1976, Article 1 of the Federal Constitution showed that Sabah and Sarawak were two distinct regions and their statuses were equal to the Federation of Malaya.
However, that provision was amended which effectively demoted Sabah and Sarawak, making the two regions mere states within Malaysia.
“If these people, including Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, who say Sabah and Sarawak are of equal status with other states in the peninsular based on the current Federal Constitution, then they are right.
“However, at the same time, Pandikar and those who hold similar opinions, have failed to embody the intentions of the leaders involved in the discussion to form Malaysia,” he told FMT.
Sen stressed that Upko Youth have no intention to debate Pandikar on the status of Sabah and Sarawak as whatever Pandikar would say would be his own personal opinion and not the opinion of the Federal government nor the Sabah and Sarawak governments.
Therefore, he said, nothing could be achieved even if Upko Youth won the debate because Pandikar has no mandate to implement the MA63 or not.
“It would be just a waste of time and breath. For us, rather than him proposing debates, it is better to propose a referendum to get the opinion of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
“That would represent the public opinion better rather than trying to become a hero of sort,” he said.
Sen added that it was more important to include all the MA63 terms in the current Federal Constitution and not to debate on the status because the MA63 already made it clear Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners with the Federation of Malaya, which comprises the various states in the peninsula, when the country gained its independence in 1957.
Therefore, he said the party welcomed the Devolution Committee at the federal level and working committee at the state level to study the issue although it would be better if the committees could provide progress reports for public consumption.
Nonetheless, he said Upko Youth applauded Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman who guaranteed that the state government will continue to defend and fight for the rights of Sabah and Sabahans as agreed and enshrined in the MA63.
At the same time, Upko Youth also thanks Prime Minister Najib Razak who has promised to return all the powers and rights accorded to Sabah and Sarawak, under MA63.