Autonomy or independence? Let Sarawakians, Sabahans choose, urges STAR leader

Lina Soo

KUCHING, Oct 1: Sarawakians and Sabahans are now politically matured and are capable of exercising their rights to be masters of their own destiny.

State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo said this in response to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remark made during a dinner with Malaysians in New York that the Malaysia Agreement (MA63) was no bar to secession but that the people of Sarawak and Sabah did not want independence.

Soo commented that the prime minister’s remark, which was published in the news portal Free Malaysia Today, meant Sarawak and Sabah were not prevented from seeking independence, but what the people of Sarawak and Sabah wanted was autonomy only.

“By Dr Mahathir’s admission, this literally means the federal government has no power or authority to stop the people of Sarawak and Sabah from seeking independence if they wish to, but claims that the Sarawak and Sabah governments had only asked for autonomy in the sharing of power between the federal and the states in the administration of the federation,” Soo said in a press statement today.

She added that if indeed what Dr Mahathir said was true, the federal government ought to prove it through the democratic process by giving Sarawakians and Sabahans a referendum to let the people choose between autonomy and independence.

“If indeed being in the federation has been beneficial to the people of Sarawak and Sabah and the two states still need federal government rule, there is nothing to fear as the people would vote to stay.

“This would settle the contentious matter of Sarawak and Sabah’s self-determination for autonomy or independence, as had been done for Scotland by the British government in a fair, open and democratic manner,” she said.

Soo added that independence was an inalienable right through the established legal doctrine of self-determination.

“The Sarawak and Sabah governments could have followed Singapore in 1965 to exit, but both states were unprepared and had not reached the level of political maturity then.

“But today, after 55 years of continuous suffering in the non-compliance and multiple breaches of MA63, coupled with unconstitutional manipulation and gross mismanagement resulting in huge foreign debt and endemic corruption, the people of Sarawak and Sabah can no longer carry this burden that is piling up on them and their future generations to come,” she reckoned.

Soo believed that as the people of a territory become politically matured, they would seek to chart their own destiny and aspire for self-determination, and the people of Sarawak and Sabah are today more than ready to meet the challenges ahead.

“With abundant oil and gas wealth, and blessed with fertile land and plentiful natural resources, the expectation of economic success and survival is assured,” said Soo, with confidence.

Furthermore, Soo cited Article 8 of the Nine Cardinal Principles of Sarawak “that the goal of self-government shall always be kept in mind, that the people of Sarawak shall be entrusted in due course with the governance of themselves, and that continuous effort shall be made to hasten the reaching of this goal by educating them in the obligations, the responsibilities and the privileges of citizenship.”

The Nine Cardinal Principles, which is the preamble to the Sarawak Constitution still holds true today, and charts the destiny of Sarawak for a better political, social and economic future, said Soo. — DayakDaily