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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sabah rights: We need select committee, says Yong

Yong Teck Lee dismisses existing Sabah Rights Review Committee as an 'afterthought' by the state government, handicapped by its inability to attract opposition parties to attend hearings.

PETALING JAYA - The Sabah government should push for the formation of a Select Committee on Sabah Rights, consisting of assemblymen from all parties, says a local opposition leader.

In a statement, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said the government should do this by moving a motion in the state assembly.

He said this committee could come up with a comprehensive report to be tabled at the state assembly for presentation to the state Cabinet and then to the federal government.

Yong said the present Sabah Rights Review Committee (SRRC) seemed like an afterthought by Barisan Nasional leaders, who were scratching their heads over how to respond to the growing momentum of Sabahans demanding Sabah’s rights.

The SRRC was tasked with looking into the devolution of powers to the state from the federal government.

However, last November, United Sabah Alliance (USA) and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah decided it would not attend the SRRC hearings after a motion to discuss Sabah’s rights in the state assembly sitting was disallowed.

Yong referred to the statement by Teo Chee Kang, who chairs SRRC and is Sabah state minister for special functions, that there was no united front on the Sabah rights issue because of the absence of local parties at the recent SRRC public hearing.

Yong, a former chief minister, said Teo’s statement was an admission that the Sabah government – without the input of local parties – lacked the political credentials to face the federal government on Sabah rights.

“This is because the SRRC chaired by the minister is neither a select committee formed by the legislative assembly nor a Cabinet committee which, by convention, should be headed by a senior member of the Cabinet with at least two other ministers.

“On the other hand, it is the leaders of USA and local parties who have been passionately fighting for Sabah rights and autonomy.”

In recent times, there has been growing calls for Sabah to demand its rights, just as the Sarawak government had sought for its rights promised to the state under the Malaysia Agreement 1963. This movement had gathered momentum when Sarawak was led by the late Adenan Satem.

Yong’s SAPP is part of the USA, alongside STAR, led by the seasoned Jeffrey Kitingan, and Parti Cinta Sabah, a party led by former deputy chief minister Wilfred Bumburing. - FMT

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