KUCHING, May 6: Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) lawmakers continue to trade barbs at each other over Sarawak’s rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
In what appeared to be a direct salvo at GPS parliamentary chief whip Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii accused the former of creating “fairy tales” among Sarawakians.
He assured that the PH federal government had no intention of eroding those rights.
“GPS should stop creating fairy tales. The PH government has no intentions of removing the immigration autonomy currently enjoyed by Sabah and Sarawak or any legal rights that are enshrined both in MA63 and the Federal Constitution.
“PH has always acknowledged and respected the special autonomy given to Sabah and Sarawak under MA63,” said Dr Yii in a statement today.
Yesterday, Fadillah urged Sarawakians to support GPS to avoid outsiders from taking over the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) in the state election due in 2021.
Fadillah was quoted as saying that if outside opposition parties took over the DUN, all that Sarawak had been fighting for would be lost and Sarawakians would suffer. He cited several projects that had been approved by the previous federal government but had since been cancelled by the PH government, to support his argument.
“Our immigration autonomy is well guarded and cannot be tampered with, let alone eroded or taken away. Yet, GPS is playing up this issue, knowing that this sentiment is an emotional one as it is close to our hearts. This ploy by GPS is not new, and it is worse than scaremongering. It is downright immoral and an outright lie to the voters,” said Dr Yii.
He pointed out that the PH government had shown its sincerity time and time again to honour and recognise the special status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation, and this was apparent with the recent tabling of a bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.
“The fact that this was the first constitutional amendment by the new federal government shows the special interest that is given to Sabah and Sarawak under the Federation. The intention was to amend first the core Article that would make Sarawak one of three entities on the night of April 9, but due to political agenda and interest, GPS chose to let Sarawak remain as one of the 13th states,” he lamented.
Dr Yii also highlighted that the PH government had set up a high-level bipartisan Special Cabinet Committee on MA63, which does not only involve politicians from one political divide but also include academicians and legal minds who would examine and identify the necessary legal rectifications needed to restore the state’s rights under the MA 63.
“Other rights like proceeds of taxations, oil and gas royalties, healthcare, education and special grants are currently in discussion in that Special Cabinet Committee, where members of the state government, including the chief minister himself, is part of. This is a high-level bipartisan committee, compared to, by Fadillah’s own admission, closed-door negotiations by the federal leadership, lead at that time by (former de facto Law Minister Dato Sri) YB Nancy Shukri.
“After all the years of negotiations, all that was achieved were some administrative devolution of powers. Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) himself, in a news report on Nov 30, 2017, was quoted admitting that ‘The technical committee on the devolution of authority’ co-chaired by YB Nancy Shukri and YB Anifah Aman was powerless.
“In comparison, in less than a year, the PH government has attempted to address the core issue of our rightful status and the Special Cabinet Committee will also produce its report soon on all the different core issues, including the review of special grants to Sarawak under Article 112(d) of the Constitution,” he said.
Dr Yii also said the PH government had time and time again shown their sincerity to address the historical grievances and economic injustices to Sabah and Sarawak that were caused during the previous administration.
“So, YB Fadillah should not resort to ‘fairy tales’ to create a false impression but rather take responsibility of the role he played as part of the previous administration on the erosion of our rights.
“Fact of the matter is he was not just an MP but also a deputy minister when the Territorial Sea Act 2012, among others, was passed in Parliament, further eroding our rights to our natural resources,” emphasised Dr Yii. — DayakDaily