11 JANUARY 2016
On many occasions I have tended to agree with the Chief Minister’s statements pertaining to the rights of Sarawakians but I find his latest jibe at the opposition in the matter of keeping out Semenanjung Malaysia based parties rather insincere and silly. He is taking such delight in gloating over his ‘clever’ reply in the recent DUN sitting that I hate to burst his bubble - but necessity compels.
Firstly, although the Chief Minister has not said so, he does not have the power to restrict the registration of UMNO or any other political party in any part of the federation under the laws of Malaysia. He is conveniently letting the public labour under the misconception that he does have such power.
Secondly, it is common knowledge that for his own political expediency, he cannot allow UMNO to come into Sarawak as the state BN is ruling the state in the form of PBB and its partners. Allowing the powerful UMNO into Sarawak would dilute his influence within the state BN and loosen his control over the state. By saying ‘not allowing’, we mean that there is an understanding between the state BN and UMNO that as long as PBB and its partners hold the majority of seats in Sarawak, UMNO will not set up officially in Sarawak.
In the case of Sabah, when BN proxy PBS withdrew from BN 5 days before the 1990 general elections and went on to win 14 out of the 20 seats, Dr Mahathir immediately sent UMNO into Sabah. It is clear that as long as the Sarawak BN proxies remain meek and mild, and continue to welcome their visiting top UMNO leaders with tight embraces, UMNO will not set up shop here. After all, UMNO does not need to do so as they are effectively ruling the state through their PBB and other BN proxies. To keep them happy and loyal, the extra incentives for the state BN’s parties include 7 ministerial and 3 deputy ministerial posts in the PM’s cabinet (PBB 7, PRS 2, SUPP 1).
The Chief Minister has been riding high on the Sarawak for Sarawakians sentiment for many months, echoing the unhappiness of Sarawakians over the failure of the BN federal government over the past 50+ years to safeguard our interests and facilitate the development promised. However, he has proven to be ineffective. When asked to declare the fact that Sarawak has no official religion, he remained silent, perhaps for fear of offending his leaders at the United Malay National Organisation. Our demands for increased oil royalty and the recognition of the UEC were rejected, and the use of the English language was met with either criticism or a deafening silence from the BN politicians. It is rather pointless to ask Sarawakians for 5 more years when it will be 5 more years of just being ignored.
The burning and relevant question for the Chief Minister is this: given that we have been sidelined and exploited by the federal BN government for half a century, and given that his voice has been embarrassingly unheard by them, is he willing to gather up his remaining gumption and leave the BN coalition? Will he be brave and bold and have the PBB stand on their own against the exploiters of Sarawak and Sarawakians? He will have to make his stand clear very soon. Failing which, please stop this nonsensical debate of stopping UMNO and Semenanjung based political parties from coming to Sarawak.
The pertinent question for all Sarawakians is this: Who are the politicians who first reminded Sarawakians of their forgotten rights that were guaranteed under the Malaysia agreement? Who are the politicians who have been fighting for the rights of Sarawakian and Malaysian natives?
It is the opposition, especially PKR that has fought for Sarawakians, in particular for our natives’ rights, among which are the rights to their customary land known as the “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” concepts for the Dayaks and “cari makan” land for the Malays. These concepts have clearly been rejected by the Chief Minister and even by the native BN leaders in Sarawak. Why pretend to be champions vis-a vis the Federal Government when at home, you refuse to recognise our rights to our lands and our livelihood? This is the most basic and fundamental right, which has been declared to be equivalent to the right to life by the Courts in this country.
So, the issue is not about making the opposition look stupid in DUN, it is about these questions which the Chief Minister has to contemplate and iron out in his mind. He has to make his stand clear. If he wants to be the champion of Sarawak for Sarawakians against our exploiters the Federal BN politicians, he cannot continue to associate with them and embrace them so fervently. He cannot have his cake and eat it too.
N70 Ba’ Kelalan