By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Jan 26: Sarawak’s ongoing negotiation with Putrajaya on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA 63) needs the solid support of all Sarawakians to ensure that it can reclaim its rights, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“Under the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, we have been given a big mandate (in the last state election held in 2016).
“So, now, we will continue with what the late `Tok Nan’ wanted to do,” he told reporters at the launching of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Zone 1 and its townhall session at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) here today.
When asked if Sarawak was ready to hold a snap election in order to get his own mandate to lead Sarawak, Abang Johari said there was no such intention.
“No, no, no … not yet,” he replied.
Earlier, in his speech, Abang Johari, who is also chairman of GPS, reiterated that under the current negotiation with Putrajaya, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had put a time frame of six months.
“So, during the ongoing negotiation, we need the support of all Sarawakians, regardless of race and religion. On my part, I will represent the whole of Sarawak because I have been given the responsibility to make sure that we get the best deal,” he said to thunderous applause at the packed PCC.
He added that during the first meeting on the MA63, which was held earlier this year, Putrajaya questioned Sarawak’s rights over the 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum products meant for export. He told them Sarawak had the right to do so.
“This 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum products is based on our rights. They claimed that if we impose the additional 5 per cent sale tax on petroleum, the price of our petroleum products will be less competitive. But I answered that it’s our right to impose the 5 per cent tax, which is based on the Federal Constitution.
“So, they should reduce theirs from the current 38 per cent. Why should we compromise on our rights?” he asked.
Abang Johari, who led the Sarawak government’s Consultative Committee for the first meeting with Putrajaya recently, admitted that the negotiation could take longer than the set time frame.
“We will continue to negotiate. It may take longer than the time frame. But we have to be careful so that our rights are not infringed,” he stressed.
Also present at the first meeting with the federal government were State Attorney-General Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and Deputy State Legislative Assembly Speaker Dato Garawat Gala. — DayakDaily