KUCHING: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has been reminded to fulfill its promises and pay what are due to Sarawak and Sabah as stipulated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
A political analyst, Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, made this call when asked to comment after former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman urged the PH government to make payments to the two states as the federal government had collected RM137 billion in direct taxes.
Last week Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed that the government collected RM137.035 billion in direct tax collections in 2018, which he said was more than the previous government’s record of RM133.700 billion in 2014.
Dr Awang Azman, who is also deputy director of the Academy of Malay Studies, University of Malaya, said under the MA63, Sarawak and Sabah are entitled to received 40 per cent of the net revenue derived by the federal government from the two states, but so far has not been fulfilled.
He said in November last year the PH government wanted to pay 40 per cent but did not have enough funds to make the payments.
“With the recent announcement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that the Ministry of Finance collected a national tax reaching RM137.035 billion, an increase of about 11 per cent, then PH government should pay what is due to Sarawak and Sabah,” he said, adding that the taxes collected should be used to fulfill promises to Sarawak and Sabah although the amount may not reach 40 per cent.
Dr Awang Azman said what was important is for the PH government to show its sincerity and willingness to fulfill its promises to the people of Sarawak and Sabah.
“This must be fully explained to the people of the two states so that their people are not disappointed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) wanita chief, Sylvia John Gemok, also demanded that the PH government pay what is due to the two Sabah and Sarawak.
Last week Lim announced that a sum of RM137.035 billion was collected through direct taxes in 2018, but before that he stated that Sarawak owed the federal government more than RM2.5 billion as of November 30 last year.
“Looking at these statements, the amount collected from tax collection should be enough to repay Sabah and Sarawak share of 40 per cent. However, Lim gave an improper reason,” she said.
She said under the MA63, the federal government must pay Sarawak and Sabah the 40 per cent but the federal government is in debt to the Sarawak government.
“Sarawak also needs the money to develop the state,” said Sylvia, adding that if the promise is not met it may cause hatred and doubt in the federal government.
Sylvia said Sarawak has been denied its rights under the MA63.