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Pandikar: Critics fail to understand spirit of MA63
Published on: Saturday, November 18, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin said the response from opposition leaders to his statement on what they claim to be the transgression of Sabah's rights as well as those who keep harping on "Sabah for Sabahans" clearly proves they do not understand the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

He said while they accused him of playing the religious sentiment for merely illustrating one of the points before an amendment was made to the State Constitution, he did not have such intention.

"The reason why I raised Article 5A of the State Constitution (pertaining to Sabah's official religion) is because the issue of Islam is an issue that was given emphasis by the Cobbold Commission Report, Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)," he told Daily Express.

Pandikar contended that if the current struggle of the opposition parties is under the banner of MA63, then it means their intent is to restore the State Constitution to its origin, i.e., before the amendment in 1973, when Sabah did not have an official religion.

"That's why I say they don't understand the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Why accuse me of using the religious issue to revive your political career?" he asked.

He stressed it must be remembered that he also made the statement not as a deputy or president of any political party.

"On the contrary, I had made the statement to provide an interpretation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 that is different from the interpretation by opposition leaders, so that the rakyat can evaluate who is really twisting the facts," he said.

Pandikar was referring to Parti Warisan Sabah Deputy President, Darell Leiking, who said he (Pandikar) seemed bereft of ideas and issues if he were to harp on race and religion, and that he (Pandikar) was shamelessly flaunting the race and religion card.

"In this respect, Darell should look at himself in the mirror and feel ashamed of his action where he often used the words 'rakyat Sabah' as supposedly supporting the political struggle of Parti Warisan."

He said Darrel and all the other elected representatives in Parti Warisan failed to even realise that they are not there because of the people's support for Parti Warisan.

"All the elected representatives in Parti Warisan won on other party tickets. Darell won on the PKR ticket in Penampang, (Party President Datuk Seri) Shafie Apdal won on the Umno ticket in Semporna and other leaders (in Parti Warisan) won on the DAP or PKR ticket. On this score, they should be ashamed of themselves because they are saying all the time that Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is the wish of the people," he said.

Pandikar also hit out at opposition parties advocating the "Sabah for Sabahans" tagline, saying this conflicts with the spirit of MA63.

"This is treason because the Malaysia Agreement gave birth to a new nation that is conceptualised on the principles of Federalism."

He said the Federal system of government has been agreed upon by all Founding Fathers at that point in time.

"When they signed the Agreement, they knew that we wanted to create a nation based on Federalism.

Now in Malaysia, as outlined in the Constitution, the system is such that the Central Government has to be strengthened to ensure survival of the nation.

"But at the same time, the component states must possess their own identity in accordance with their individual character," Pandikar said. "We must remember that this philosophy has been supported by the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC), Cobbold Commission and Malaysian Constitution."

The individual states, he said, must have a strong government, and this is stated in Paragraph 148A of the Cobbold Commission Report.

"For example, Sabah has its own State Legislative Assembly, we have a TYT (Head of State), and enjoy a certain degree of autonomy like collecting taxes under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, State List and Federal List. Sabah also has powers over forestry and land matters as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution and Sabah Constitution. So that is the character of the Federal principle of government."

Hence, he said, when they cry "Sabah for Sabahans", they are deviating from the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

"Then, why do you claim that you are fighting for Sabah under the Spirit of the MA63 when in fact you don't even know what is the Spirit of MA63?"

# A fuller version of this and other arguments by Pandikar will appear in our Comment & Analysis section tomorrow. - Mary Chin and James Sarda

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