On August 19, it was reported that the Special Cabinet Committee to Review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) had resolved seven out of the 21 issues related to the acknowledgement of MA63 in Sabah and Sarawak.
The agreement was an essential part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto in which the government promised to review the implementation of MA63 towards upholding the rights of Sabah and Sarawak.
According to media intelligence on the topic of ‘MA63’, the recent progress made by the MA63 review committee did not receive huge attention in the mainstream media. In fact, the overall exposure of MA63 suffered a low presence in the media after April.
In April, the bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled in Parliament. The amendment will recognise Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia, instead of just being states in Malaysia. However, the motion did not pass the Dewan Rakyat as it failed to receive the majority two-thirds vote from the parliamentary members.
Apart from the report by MA63 review committee, Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal urged the Federal Government to review the formula for tourism sector tax returns. He said Sabah only received RM 24 million for last year’s tax returns despite the fact that the state had a record-breaking profit of RM8.342 billion in the tourism sector.
He added that Sabah is a major tourist attraction in Malaysia, and it was a big contributor in the nation’s tourism income. Additionally, he revealed that he had raised the issue during his meeting with MA63 review committee.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg was not as outspoken as Shafie on the MA63 issue in August.
Nevertheless, Johari along with Shafie had an exclusive meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to discuss on oil and gas rights of Sabah and Sarawak.
Despite that, Johari gave his assurance to the public that he will not make any decisions pertaining to the Sarawakian’s rights before consulting the MA63 review committee.