KUCHING, July 22: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today reminds Putrajaya that being a partner in the Federation of Malaysia, Sarawak wants its rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 returned and to be able to determine its own future.
At the same time, he said Sarawak should have the right to enforce its Oil and Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) as it was never repealed. In addition, the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) had never agreed to the enactment of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) that was passed by Parliament.
“I would like to add that Putrajaya is not London, the seat of British colonial power. Petra Jaya will determine the future of Sarawak,” he said at the Sarawak Independence Day celebration held at the Celebration Square, near Stadium Negri, here this morning.
He explained that the OMO had never been repealed and the state government at the time had never agreed to any federal laws to supersede the OMO.
“No, Sarawak never agreed to the PDA passed by Parliament, and we maintain that OMO cannot be implicitly or impliedly repealed by PDA,” said Abang Johari.
He said in order for Sarawak to be able to derive more revenue for development, Sarawak needed to get its rights over its oil and gas back. Sarawak, he reiterated, needed four times the current quantum of federal allocation in order to be able to develop good infrastructure across the state.
“Our current strong financial reserve is partly the accumulation of revenue from the oil and gas industry on our shores. We expect to earn more from our gas as now we have a 10 per cent stake in LNG Train 9 and 25 per cent in LNG 3.
“This money will be given back to the people when we develop our rural water supply, construct more bridges and build more roads, instead of just relying on the Federal Government, which has the whole country to look after,” he said.
When Malaysia was formed, Abang Johari said Sarawak was quite satisfied that the promises made were fulfilled. The state’s security against hostile neighbours and internal threats were secured with the help of Malaya and Commonwealth countries.
He recalled that back in 1963, the circumstances were much different from what it is today. Back then, the state was poor and poverty was rife.
In addition, the state was under the threat of communism, neighbouring Indonesia was dominated by Parti Komunis Indonesia, and a hostile Philippines laid claims on Sabah.
“Under the circumstances, knowing that we cannot defend ourselves alone, we look to the Commonwealth and fellow Malaysians from Malaya for safety.
“But at the same time, we were jealous of our independence,” he said.
Abang Johari said that was why after agreeing to be a part of Malaysia in principle, Sarawak insisted on certain terms and conditions that gave it autonomy over many aspects of the state’s constitutional life.
“But along the way, intentionally or otherwise, Sarawak’s rights were infringed without Sarawakians being aware of it. This, of course, has brought about much dissatisfaction to the people of Sarawak.
“We strongly believe that this erosion of powers must be rectified and settled amicably through negotiations because discontentment is not healthy for the overall wellbeing of Malaysia,” he reasoned.
Despite so, Abang Johari iterated that there was no need for Sarawak to exit Malaysia; but being in Malaysia did not mean the state could not ask for its legal rights based on the MA63 and the Constitution.
“I believe now, with our political independence through Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), we have a better and stronger platform to voice our opinion freely to protect the interest of Sarawak. — DayakDaily