Sabah Pakatan Harapan (PH) is planning to take legal action against finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz over his statement that the 40% tax sharing formula on federal revenue collected from Sabah was no longer applicable.
The opposition coalition said it will challenge the legality of Tengku Zafrul’s remarks following revelations that a new agreement over the tax payment was made when the country was under the emergency between 1969 and 1970, and that a government gazette on this had been kept from public knowledge.
“We are of the opinion that if it is true this gazette over the 40% payment was kept secret from Sabahans, an act of fraud has been committed on the formation of Malaysia through the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Sabah PH will continue to honour the federal and state constitutions in pursuit of Sabah rights as enshrined under MA63.”
The statement was jointly signed by Sabah PKR chief Christina Liew, Upko president Wilfred Madius Tangau, state DAP chief Frankie Poon, and Sabah Amanah chairman Lahirul Latigu.
Yesterday, Warisan’s Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman questioned why the government gazette on the tax sharing formula on federal revenue collected from Sabah had been “kept secret” since 1970.
Azis said he made the discovery after reading a letter from Tengku Zafrul that was addressed to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun.
The letter was in response to Azis’ motion, which was rejected, to refer Tengku Zafrul for disciplinary action for misleading the House over the 40% tax sharing formula, which is provided for under Article 112C of the Federal Constitution.
He said Tengku Zafrul, in his letter, had stated that he did not mislead the House as there was a government gazette on an amendment to use Article 112D as the basis for the annual special grant payment to the state.
The federal and Sabah governments had agreed that the rate for the annual payments would be implemented under Article 112D, rendering the original formula under Article 112C void.
“This decision (to use Article 112D as the basis for payment) was made on Sept 1, 1969, and gazetted on Sept 17, 1970, during the emergency,” Azis said in his statement yesterday.
He also questioned why the gazette was kept secret when it should have been public knowledge for the past 50 years.
Meanwhile, Sabah PH said it welcomed the assurance by chief minister Hajiji Noor in the state assembly yesterday that the state will not back down from its pursuit over the 40% tax revenue to be returned to Sabah.
“However, we do not want it to be mere political rhetoric and will give the state government one month to obtain the payment as promised under Article 112C and 112D.
“If the state fails, Sabah PH, particularly our MPs and assemblymen, will not hesitate to take court action over this matter.” – FMT