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KUCHING, July 1: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak would try its best to be as politically independent as possible from the federal government as the state had its own rights and constitution.
Only Sarawakians know the aspirations of Sarawak, and Sarawakians should be united in regaining its eroded rights from Putrajaya, he said.
Speaking at a Gawai carnival at Redeems Centre near Bau here on Saturday night, Abang Johari said that was one of the reasons why the ruling coalition left Barisan Nasional (BN) recently to form its own local alliance (Gabungan Parti Sarawak).
“I believe there are a lot of things we can do without endorsements from Putrajaya. I tell you we have the experience. With a very heavy heart we left BN. We have gained so much experience with BN. The last general election (GE14) is a blessing to us as it made us reflect on ourselves while at the same time see how we going to move forward with what we have in mind for Sarawak.
“Let Sarawak parties look after Sarawak. Let Sarawak leaders look after Sarawak and let us redeem our lost rights because in BN, if you are bound by the parliamentary whip and if there are any amendments to our constitution and laws, they (Putrajaya) will touch us. We cannot say no because of the writ. Like it or not we have to abide,” he said.
Now that the state is on its own, he said if any decision made by Putrajaya was alright, Sarawak would support. If not, the state would not support.
“We must be politically independent of Putrajaya. I can tell you we haven’t even settled our stamp duty (issue) yet. It’s supposed to be for Sarawak because the duty comes from transactions on our land, but Putrajaya is taking it all,” he lamented.
On that note, he congratulated the state government’s legal team for winning the first round of the court case brought about by Petronas recently.
“Our regulatory control they (Petronas) brought to the Federal Court. They think we Sarawakians are afraid. I said ‘you bring to court, we challenge you in court’. And thank god, we won the first round.
“We have power in our own constitution regarding our oil and gas industry because it’s very clearly stated in our constitution and the federal constitution. That is how we argue with them, and I won’t give it away because that is our rights.”
He reiterated that from today onwards, Petronas had to apply for licences in order to operate in Sarawak.
“This is one of our eroded rights to be taken back. Because of that, for our future, only we can decide our own destiny. We (Sarawakians) will work together with each other to strengthen Sarawak. Based on that strength, I think we can develop further and I will try my best to increase state revenue,” he said. — DayakDaily