News analysis

Pakatan Harapan looks to empower East Malaysia

The new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has set the goodwill wheels in motion with Sabah and Sarawak, announcing on Sunday that the two states would have their rights restored as "equal partners" in the formation of Malaysia.

The pact's bid to keep to its election manifesto - in which it promised both states more autonomy in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and higher oil royalties - is welcomed by East Malaysians who have long felt marginalised by central government policies and underdevelopment in their states. It is also a shrewd move to get these constituents on side well ahead of the next general election in five years' time, as they make up a quarter of the country's 222 parliamentary wards.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Pakatan Harapan looks to empower East Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe