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IDEAS urges the government to prioritise manifesto commitments made to Sabah and Sarawak

Kuala Lumpur, 11 December 2019 –In the third Projek Pantau Report Card, IDEAS gives special focus to Pillar 4 (Return Sabah and Sarawak to the Status Accorded by the Malaysia Agreement 1963). Professor James Chin, Director of the Asia Institute, University of Tasmania, Australia acted as a consultant in our analysis of Pillar 4.

“We believe that the spirit of reforms and renewal that is at the heart of the Buku Harapan must encapsulate the aspirations of the people in Sabah and Sarawak. From our analysis, we see some progress in the award of infrastructure contracts to locals and in the promise to build more public schools and health centres. The main stumbling block remains to be the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak to the status and rights accorded to the two states according to the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” said Faiz Zaidi, Executive at the Democracy and Governance Unit and main author of the report.

“MA63 is a matter that is close to the heart of Sabahans and Sarawakians. Although the Special Cabinet Committee was only able to agree on some of the issues, the government must continue its commitment to ensuring the spirit and purpose of MA63 are met, for the benefit of the people of Sabah and Sarawak,” commented Faiz.

One of the more contentious issues in the negotiations with Sabah and Sarawak is oil royalties. “PH’s promise of increasing oil royalties from 5% to 20% has proven to be impossible. However, they need to acknowledge that there is deep dissatisfaction from Sabahans and Sarawakians regarding this issue. In a federation like Malaysia, no state should feel unfairly treated and contributions by states to the federal government’s coffers must be duly recognised. 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,” added Faiz.

In summary, we conclude that there has not been major progress made by the government in delivering its manifesto promises since the launch of the second Projek Pantau report in June 2019. There remains a number of highly ambitious targets which prove to be difficult to reach. Although the government has produced a comprehensive strategy to address the housing issue, we deduce that it is unlikely this will deliver the promised one million new and affordable homes. In the same vein, in terms of healthcare, the government is not on track to reach 4 per cent of GDP on public health expenditure. In many cases, these challenges reflect the unrealistic nature of some of PH’s promises.

Eighteen months after winning power, the PH government has shown commitment to building a Malaysia that is more receptive,  accountable and transparent. However, the government must also acknowledge the frustrations and impatience felt by large sections of the population, for whom stagnant wages and high costs of living remain burdensome. At this stage, it is imperative that the coalition presents a united, cohesive front that can lead Malaysia to greater heights in 2020 and beyond.

The report can be downloaded at

2019-12-11T17:22:21+08:00 11th December 2019|Media Statements|Comments Off on IDEAS urges the government to prioritise manifesto commitments made to Sabah and Sarawak