Activist: Change of status irrelevant unless attitude towards S’wak, Sabah is reevaluated

Peter John Jaban (file photo)

KUCHING, Jan 16: Whether it is region, province, State, or territory, the change of status is irrelevant unless there is a genuine change in attitude towards Sarawak and Sabah in this country by the people at the top.

In pointing this out, Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration (Sapa) publicity and information chief Peter John Jaban called on political representatives to “get their act together” on the issue of the restitution of the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

This comes after Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg had to qualify a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the unsuitable use of the term ‘region’ to describe Sarawak and Sabah.


According to Peter John, it shows just how little progress has actually been made on matters of substance in the process of greater autonomy for the two founding partners to the nation; autonomy which is all the more pressing in light of the deputy prime minister’s statements about the relocation of the Indonesian capital.

He said this has been an issue in Sarawak for many years and has been Sarawak government policy since the late (former Chief Minister) Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s tenure.

“Yet, this is where the debate is still circling. Our Premier needs to push for this to be settled immediately so that negotiations can move on to more fundamental changes on recognising the territorial and economic rights of the two Borneo Constituent Provinces,” he said in a statement today.

Peter John also reminded the Premier that the need for autonomy is to further Sarawak’s own self-determination and progress and to fulfil the terms agreed to the formation of Malaysia.

“We have waited sixty years for proper recognition of our rights. The unity government today does indeed have ‘a considerable legal and moral obligation’ towards us.

“We must establish our autonomy so that any ‘overflow of development’, as our deputy prime minister puts it, related to the new Indonesian capital, can be managed properly by Sarawak itself,” he emphasised.

Peter John pointed out that Sarawak is not here simply to provide a back channel for development from Indonesia to the Peninsula.

He said Zahid Hamidi’s statement that Sarawak is now ‘more strategic’ in light of the relocation of the Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan, meaning now there is a need for Sarawak to be developed as new growth areas, betrays his ulterior motives.

He continued this is exactly the kind of attitude to Sarawak which led to greater calls for autonomy in the first place.

“Are we only deserving of attention when there is something in it for the federal government, or is it our right as a founding partner in this nation?

“Without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia. This is the reality that must be recognised. As Malaysia faces its 60th anniversary of nationhood, it again has the chance to live up to the intentions of its founding documents and partners.

“At this pace, it will be another 60 years before any real progress is made,” he added. — DayakDaily