Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud (right) with Muhyiddin (middle) and Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (left) flying the Jalur Gemilang at the Malaysia Day Celebration at the Sibu Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. Photo: Bernama

SIBU: In a move to expedite the restoration of eroded state rights to Sarawak and Sabah, a special council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) has been formed by Putrajaya.

It will discuss issues related to the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the MA63, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin addressing the Malaysia Day Celebrants at the Sibu Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. Photo: Bernama

“Among them are the position of Sabah and Sarawak as partners in the federation, state rights under Article 112 of the Federal Constitution, MA63 and Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) report, state security and education.

“This special council will be assisted by existing committees that have been established at the level of ministries and federal agencies based on relevant issues,” he said.

He made the announcement during his address at the Malaysia Day celebration in Sibu on Wednesday (Sept 16).

Muhyiddin said the council will be chaired by himself and will comprise the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, federal ministers and other appointed members according to their suitability, qualifications and areas of expertise.

“I hope that the establishment of this special council will be able to resolve pending issues on the rights and position of Sabah and Sarawak in line with the spirit of the MA63 and the provisions in the Federal Constitution.

“What is important is that efforts to develop these two states can be continued and enhanced with the close cooperation between the federal and state governments,” he said.

The prime minister said issues that are considered difficult to resolve can be resolved well when the federal and state governments are aligned to one another.

On the negotiations for oil and gas matters, Muhyiddin lauded Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s consultation with Petronas to reach an agreement on oil and gas and sales tax on petroleum products in Sarawak.

“Thank God, this issue has been successfully resolved with some details that are being discussed by both parties.

“I believe when the federal government and the state government are united, the beneficiaries are the people. God willing, we will start negotiations with Sabah (on the same matter) after its state election,” he said.

Muhyiddin addressing the Malaysia Day Celebrants at the Sibu Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. Photo: Ukas

The former Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government had initiated a Cabinet committee to review the implementation of the MA63.

It is understood that last December, a total 17 out of 21 matters tabled by the Sarawak and Sabah governments at the committee meeting have been jointly approved.

The four remaining issues were reported to include oil royalty issues and petroleum cash payments; oil minerals and oil fields; Territorial Sea Act 2012 [Act 750]; and state rights over the continental shelf.

However, the PH administration collapsed earlier this year, triggering a political crisis in late February which ended after a loose PN coalition led by Muhyiddin assumed the federal government.