Sabah and Sarawak have been accorded the status of region and are no longer regarded as states within Malaysia, says Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Zahid, who is also the rural and regional development minister, said the relocation of the Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan made the Sabah and Sarawak regions more strategic, to be developed as new growth areas.
"The unity government today has a considerable legal and moral obligation towards Sabah and Sarawak," he said in his policy speech at Umno's 2022 general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today.
Zahid, who is Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, said the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would need to be immediately implemented.
"Even though there are some basic things which have already been implemented, there are still several things which form the basis of MA63 that need to be translated for implementation," he said.
Zahid said the overflow of development in Kalimantan would need immediate work, to allow the more rapid development of Sabah and Sarawak.
"Since 1963, Sabah and Sarawak have contributed a lot to the country's economic development, and now is the best time for us to develop both Sabah and Sarawak, in line with the development in the entire Borneo archipelago, including Kalimantan, Indonesia," he said.
On Jan 4, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that leaders need to be persistent in defending Malaysia’s spirit in MA63 while doing their best to honour the agreement, which he said reflected the wisdom of the previous leadership.
Anwar also announced that the amount of allocation for special grants to Sabah and Sarawak, according to Article 112D of the Federal Constitution, should be reviewed every five years so that the amount is more reasonable.
He likewise agreed that the implementation of any project with a cost of less than RM50 million in Sabah and Sarawak should be decided almost entirely by the state governments, subject to compliance with financial regulations.