2 AUGUST 2016
We note that the Chief Minister has said that the discussions for autonomy with the Federal Government have reached the second phase, and appreciate that there has been some development. However, we cannot help but question why he felt the need to issue a ‘warning’ about the failure to deliver on the promise of autonomy. It could be just a general statement from the CM, but at the same time, it could mean that the Federal Government is not as receptive as the PM had led us all to believe when he was campaigning during the Sarawak elections. Perhaps the discussions have reached a snag?
We wish to reiterate the point made by See Chee How last month that the Federal government, Sarawak and Sabah must make public the powers to be devolved to Sarawak and Sabah. We should be informed of the contents of this very important discussion and be given the opportunity to provide feedback as it involves our rights and the rights of our generations to come.
Although we are not privy to the items under negotiations, we wish to suggest that these matters be included: Religious freedom, Education, and Representation in Parliament.
On religion, the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution provides that matters of Islamic law fall under the State List, and we would like the Federal Government to be reminded of this. The National Registration Department has no authority to dictate or interfere in these matters and this must be made absolutely clear.
On education, we hope that the Chief Minister will be firm in insisting that our medium of instruction should be English, and negotiate for us to be autonomous in our education policy and syllabus.
On representation in Parliament, the Cobbold Commission stated in their report under paragraphs 165 and 190(g) that there was strong support for the merger and that the representation of the Borneo States in the Federal Parliament should make up 34% of parliamentary seats and take account not only of their populations but also their size and potentialities. Article 161E of the Federal Constitution provides for the protection of this quota for the two states in that no amendment is allowed without their consent. The ratio has dwindled to 25% now and we urge the CM to ensure the restoration of the quota of 34% to Sabah and Sarawak, in adherence to the policy that the number of parliamentary seats in Peninsula Malaysia must not be more than two thirds of the total parliamentary seats.
The Chief Minister has noted in his speeches in the DUN that laws that affect us have been passed in Parliament without our consent. The erosion of our veto powers has enabled this to happen and we must regain this power, which was a crucial factor in our agreeing to be a partner in the Federation of Malaysia.
We are behind the Chief Minister in this negotiation to regain our rights and are willing to assist the government in any way we can.
Chairman, PKR Sarawak