13 NOVEMBER 2016
The PM’s recent speech in Penampang that he is ready to discuss MA63 is one that Sarawakians have heard many times in the past, especially before the last Sarawak Elections when he was almost camped here full time. From past experience, we know that these are but rhetoric to fool the people of Sabah and Sarawak as BN has done so for the last 50-plus years. We have no confidence in this statement by PM especially when he is just about to face GE14.
One of the main reasons for Sabah and Sarawak agreeing to form the Federation of Malaysia with Malaya and Singapore then was because of the promise by Tunku Abdul Rahman to lift our economic status to equal that of Malaya but until today, we remain far, far behind them in economic development and so many aspects. In fact, some would say the gap is even wider now than it was then. The Budget allocations for our education, infrastructure and healthcare are reduced annually, and the recent budget was no different. There have been countless promises to rebuild and repair our dilapidated schools but the money has not been forthcoming.
On the other hand West Malaysia has announced extravagant projects such as the railway costing billions and the park in KL costing RM650 million. What is most bitter, is the fact that our petroleum wealth has been taken by the Federal government and squandered on projects and bail-outs, and the Federal government has rejected our demand for an increase in oil royalty from 5% to 20%, even after a unanimous motion from the Sarawak DUN to seek this increase.
Over the years, the religious freedom that our forefathers had so jealously guarded has been hindered and curtailed by administrative and policy decisions and legal challenges to our rights, such as the ban on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians, seizure of the Al-Kitab and other Christian materials and obstacles put in the way of converts wishing to leave Islam. Our territorial rights have been compromised by the passing of the Territorial Sea Act in 2012 and our rights to have English as an official language is given no heed or criticised by some BN leaders. Many native Sarawakians are denied ICs and birth certificates, some being suspected of being Indonesians and yet we read about foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistani etc being given ICs. In all these, there has only been talk from Najib to restore and respect our rights, but very little action.
Najib came to Sarawak and said he was willing to recognise our autonomy but has fudged around the issue after the elections and we are nowhere near to getting any autonomy, just some devolution of power concessions to try to keep us happy. This coming DUN sitting, there will be unanimous support for a motion to reclaim our status as an equal partner in the Federation of Malaysia. Whether Parliament will reverse the 1976 amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution will be an indication of Najib’s sincerity.
Closer to my home, during the elections campaign Najib had approved RM35mil to build SMK Long Semadoh but when I asked about this after the elections, the answer I received from the government was that this was to be included in the 11th Malaysia plan and even then, it was subject to the availability of funds. So much for Najib’s promises.
We simply have no basis to believe Najib’s words. Nevertheless I urge the State Government of Sabah and Sarawak to take this up to the PM and ensure that he honours his words and promises before GE14, failing which he would be proving us to have been right all along.
CHAIRMAN, KEADILAN SARAWAK/ADUN N81 BA’ KELALAN