PETALING JAYA, 13 December 2019 – The problem of oil royalties to Sabah and Sarawak must be addressed in a manner that is fair, says Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman and economist Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam.
Failure to follow the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), of which the oil royalty is a component, would make a mockery of the new Shared Prosperity Vision policy, he said.
“An alternative that the government can consider to honour the MA63 would be to review existing policies and cut down on development expenditure,” Ramon told theSun.
“The royalty payments can be phased out over a longer period of time to ease the burden on the federal government.”
He was commenting on a statement by Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs’ (Ideas) executive at the Democracy and Governance Unit, Faiz Zaidi, that the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak to the status and rights accorded to the two states according to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is a matter that is close to the heart of the people in the two states.
“The government must continue its commitment in ensuring the spirit and purpose of MA63 are met, for the benefit of the people of Sabah and Sarawak,” Faiz said.
“Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) promise of increasing oil royalties from 5% to 20% has proven to be impossible to implement.
”If the federal government cannot fulfil its election promise to increase oil royalties for Sabah and Sarawak,then it must compensate the two states through other means, he said.
Faiz noted there is progress made by the government in the award of infrastructure contracts to the locals and the promise of building more public schools and health centres.
“Alternatives must be considered to ensure Sabah and Sarawak get their fair share. In addition, the government must also make good on its promise to return and guarantee the customary land rights to the people of Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.
First published in The Sun Malaysia, 13 December 2019