Chong: Don’t stop at MA63, go beyond that

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Nov 6: Sarawak must fight beyond the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) if it wanted its lost rights and power as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia to be fully restored.

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen opined that there was not much provision for the state under MA63, to begin with. The state needs to go beyond the agreement in its devolution of power discussions.

“If we want to implement MA63, we must look at the power that we originally have under the agreement. When I looked at the MA63 agreement, on top of the Inter Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, there was not much provision for Sarawak.

“Now, the exercise of the federal and state list is under the Federal Constitution, which adopted the MA63 that adopted the IGC report before that.

“If the committee is going to proceed to implement MA63, at the end of the day, Sarawak would not get much power. My call is on the committee to go beyond that since we have the opportunity,” Chong told reporters at the DUN complex here today.

Chong speaking to reporters at the DUN complex lobby.

The Kota Sentosa assemblyman was responding to a motion tabled by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to form a consultative committee to advise Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on matters to be raised in the MA63 Steering Committee.

“This council would advise the chief minister, who is a member of the MA63 steering committee that was formed with the purpose to implement the Malaysia Agreement,” he said.

Chong pointed out that the federal list of power included education, healthcare, commerce as well as import and export, excluding timber. The state can’t even sell its oil without federal consent, he pointed out.

“If we talk about further erosion, education is under the federal list, though it also provided English as our medium of instruction. Passing the Malay language subject was not compulsory to further education but now it is compulsory to get credit in Bahasa Malaysia to enter higher learning.

“Under MA63, mineral resources is under the purview of the state, but the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) surrender this rights to Petronas in exchange for compensation of 5 per cent oil royalty. These two decisions have affected Sarawak tremendously.”

Chong said the current state governance must explain to the people on the changes in English medium instruction and passing of the Petroleum Development Bill by their predecessors. It should also include other laws, directives or policies that affected Sarawak rights due to the changes over time.

“We must know our rights and what parameters we are fighting for. Otherwise, we fight all the way but gain little in the end. It is because MA63 does not give Sarawak that much rights from the start,” he said.— DayakDaily