Friday, November 14, 2014

Respect of Malaysia Agreement key to Sabah, Sarawak integration, says PKR leader

Published: 14 November 2014

Putrajaya must overcome its “historical amnesia” about Sabah and Sarawak’s equal partnership in the federation if it hopes to restore national integration between the two states and Peninsula Malaysia, said a Sarawak opposition leader.
State PKR chief Baru Bian (pic) said this is the key of one of the barriers to his vision of Sarawak, 20 years from now.
Speaking as a panellist in a roundtable discussion, "Shaping Sarawak to be a high-income and sustainable state", at the Sarawak Business Summit in Kuching, the Ba'kelalan lawmaker said there must be first a recognition of the guaranteed rights in the 18-Point Agreement for Sarawak and the 20-Point Agreement for Sabah.
“Like any marriage that has deteriorated, a process of reconciliation must commence immediately to restore the relationship in the hope that we may move forward towards national integration of all races in Malaysia," he said.
“The report of the Cobbold Commission on the response of the Iban tribes to the idea of Malaysia is prophetic when it was reported that 'they were opposed to the idea that Sarawak should be treated as only one of 15 States in the Federation of Malaysia'.
"They maintained that this would give them too small a voice in the federation’s affairs. There were fears too that a large proportion of Sarawak’s revenue would be handed over to the federal government without a corresponding return in the shape of services to the people of Sarawak.
“I am afraid, that fear is a reality today,” Baru said.
He said Sarawakians were left far behind in their stride towards building a developed nation and treated as less equal in many areas specifically agreed under the 18/20 agreements.
Baru said the so-called political tsunami of 2008 that swept the nation, and the outcome of the 13th general election last year, were perhaps a blessing in disguise as some of the states’ rights “which were conveniently abandoned by federal leaders in the past” could now be revisited.
“It dawned upon all political leaders that winning the support of the two Borneo states is crucial for the control of Putrajaya.
“The political focus is once again on the two east Malaysian states as it was prior to 1963.”
Baru said the step taken by Putrajaya to recognise September 16 as Malaysia Day must be lauded as “it signals a gesture of one willing to accept historical truth”.
“As in the case of marriage, it is recognising one’s neglect of duties and responsibilities to the other.
“But declaring the day as a public holiday per se brings no significance to Sabahans and Sarawakians without pondering and recognising the terms of the agreements that made September 16 possible.
“Therefore, it is my submission that for national integration to truly begin, at least between the two east Malaysian states and Semananjung Malaysia, these rights must be examined and dealt with.”
He said even though 50 years had passed since Malaysia, “I guess it is still better late than never”. – November 14, 2014.
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