William Mangor | April 11, 2016
The Opposition’s stand on Sarawak’s rights and status has been crystal clear, consistent and certain from the beginning, and was set out in manifestos and policy documents.
KUCHING: It was his submission, stressed Sarawak Opposition Chief Baru Bian on Sunday at the first polls debate of its kind in Sarawak, “that it was without a doubt” that PKR together with partners had made it very, very clear that their policies were carefully articulated. “We would maintain the autonomous right of Sarawak within the Federation and protect these rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the 18 points agreement (Sarawak) upon which Malaysia was formed.”
Baru, speaking at the “Safeguarding Sarawak” Debate, stressed several key points in his address before an 800-strong gathering at the Kenyalang Theatre in Kuching. The participants included representatives from the UN and observers from Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.
On religion, he said that no other political party had seen the need to remind the Sarawak Government that the state had no religion. “This is the very fundamental right of Sarawakians, that there’s no official religion in Sarawak, a point that was fought for by our forefathers. It must be maintained.”
“PKR Sarawak’s stand on this matter was public knowledge as it was widely reported in the press and online media.”
In fact, he added that he brought up on two occasions, glaring errors in government websites that stated that Bahasa Malaysia was Sarawak’s official language and that Islam was the official religion. “These entries were removed from the websites.”
The latest incident on the official religion issue was during the last Sarawak Assembly sitting in December 2015, said Baru. “I demanded an explanation from the Chief Minister as to why the government’s official portal www.sarawak.gov.my , under the tab ‘Visitors’, states that Islam is the official religion of Sarawak.”
“The first time was in the Chief Minister’s State Planning Unit’s website under ‘Sarawak Facts and Figures 2010’. “
On the status of English as Sarawak’s official language, said Baru who is also PKR Sarawak Chairman, he first raised the issue in 2012 in the May session of the Sarawak Assembly. “I also raised the issue in statements in the press each time some misguided civil servant called for the enforcement of the use of Bahasa Malaysia in official documents.”
“I am very glad that the Chief Minister agreed with me on this point, when he said it publicly but only at the end of last year.”
Baru, continuing, said the Opposition’s manifesto for GE13 pledged that a Federal Government under Pakatan will recognize UEC for admission for higher education. “Although the Chief Minister has said the state government recognizes UEC, long after we declared it, the Federal Barisan Nasional (BN) Government disagreed with him.”
The Opposition’s stand on Sarawak’s rights and status has been crystal clear, consistent and certain from the beginning, and was set out in manifestos and policy documents, said Baru.
He listed the policy documents in the public domain that had been publicly launched: Pakatan Rakyat Manifesto 2011 (Sarawak Elections 2011); Submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee for Electoral Reform 2011; the Kuching Declaration dated 16 September, 2012; Manifesto Rakyat 2013 (General Elections 2013); and 18-Point Roadmap 2015 (Sarawak Elections 2016).
Among the issues consistently addressed in these documents, he said, were Sarawak as an autonomous state and equal partner within the Federation of Malaysia, within the framework of the Federal Constitution; guarantee to increase petroleum royalty for Sabah and Sarawak to 20 per cent; land reform and the setting up of a Land Commission, on Native Customary Rights (NCR), was in all four policy documents; guarantee of Freedom of Religion; and Borneonisation of the civil service.
~ Free Malaysia Today