Thursday, June 4, 2015

Putrajaya promises Sarawak greater autonomy

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON

Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Sarawak and Putrajaya are in negotiations to give the state greater autonomy. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 4, 2015.
























Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Sarawak and Putrajaya are in negotiations to give the state greater autonomy. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 4, 2015.



Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Putrajaya has agreed to accede to Sarawak's request for greater autonomy in administering the state in what the prime minister described as “devolution of power”.
The prime minister said the state and Putrajaya were now in negotiations over the powers that could be handed to the state.
Speaking at the #sarawakfornajib gathering in Kuching today, the prime minister said there should not be any reason why Putrajaya or federal government agencies should have parallel decision-making powers with the state.
“If the state can decide, why should Putrajaya or federal agencies have parallel powers of decision-making?” he told the thousands of hardcore Barisan Nasional supporters who showed up at the state indoor stadium in Petrajaya to give their unconditional support to the embattled prime minister over his handling of the debt-ridden state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Earlier, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem disclosed that the state had been in negotiations over the transfer of powers.
“We are negotiating what powers could be handed back to the state government.”
The handing of power, Adenan said, would then “give our autonomy meaning”.
Sarawak state secretary Tan Sri Morshidi Abdul Ghani, when asked for negotiation details, he said he was unaware of it.
Alleged erosion of the 18-point agreement, the list drawn up by Sarawak proposing the terms of its agreement to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, have long been debated in the state.
Some of the points that had been hotly debated are on religion, the English language, Borneonisation or recruitment of more Sabah and Sarawak-born citizens to the federal service and education.
The agreement also states that while the Malay language should be the national language of the federation and English should continue to be the official language of Sarawak for all purposes, the alarming decline in the standard of English in Sarawak in recent years had led to calls for the state to take back its autonomy over education matters in the state.
One of the leading lights in the demand for the return of the state's autonomy over education is state PKR chairman Baru Bian, who in March had said “our forefathers who signed the Malaysia Agreement placed such high importance on this that we maintained the right to have English as one of our official languages”.
He said though autonomy on education was relinquished to the federal government in the 1970s, the state's right for “English should continue to be the official language of Sarawak for all purposes” had never been relinquished.
Baru said Sarawak would be able to do much better in handling education matters than the federal Education Ministry, which he said had “only succeeded in producing two or three generations of Malaysians with poor English skills”. – June 4, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-promises-sarawak-greater-autonomy#sthash.xkAoDqGs.dpuf

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