KUALA LUMPUR: The government will give focus on the implementation of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to ensure Sabah and Sarawak receive the same benefits as states in the peninsular.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the agreement would be revived to honour all pledges outlined within it.
"Although it has been in the backseat for quite sometime, we want to revive the agreement made during Malaysia's formation.
"We will focus on all promises made in the agreement so that Sabah and Sarawak will be given the same treatment as peninsular states.
"God-willing we will try (to accomplish it)," Dr Mahathir said during a question-and-answer session at the Congress on Future of Bumiputera and the Nation 2018 on Saturday.
The session was moderated by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. Also present was Dr Mahathir's wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali and PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Dr Mahathir said the government would not sideline Sabah and Sarawak in any field.
"(Even) matters relating to salaries will be streamlined. Minimum wage in the peninsular will no longer be higher than in Sabah and Sarawak. We will not differentiate between Sabah and Sarawak and the peninsula.
"We have enough representatives from Sabah and Sarawak in the cabinet. They are not keeping quiet. They give a lot of advice because of their focus on Sabah and Sarawak."
In a related development, Dr Mahathir said he is not denying the Kelantanese people's advancement in businesses, due to their acumen and efficiency in generating profit.
The problem, he said, lies with being successful in their home state.
"Kelantan people are good at business. Wherever they go, they can adapt, set up shop, and expand their business in the long term.
"But the conundrum is, why can't they be successful in their home state? This problem goes back to the state, which does not have a strong financial standing, but instead relies on Federal aid.
“So, there is something that the people of Kelantan need to rectify." © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd