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KUCHING, April 20: The inclusion of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) rights in the Barisan Nasional (BN) manifesto for the 14th general elections (GE14) has been called an ‘insult to the spirit of the agreement’ by a state opposition leader.
“The fact of the matter is, for BN to attempt to insert our rights under the MA63 as an election manifesto is an insult to the spirit of the agreement and a clear telling point of the insincerity of the BN ruling government to return our rights.
“They as the ruling government could have if they wanted to, return every right that is ours to begin with today itself since they have the full authority to do so as the ruling government. It does not have to be in a manifesto when it could have been done right away if they had the political will to do so,” said Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen in a statement today.
He also pointed out that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s pledge to return Sarawak’s rights under the BN national manifesto seemingly came with the catch of only being realised by “consensus” of all the states in Malaya, which means if any object, the said rights will not be returned, even if it is clearly stated in the agreement.
“That itself, speaks volumes of his insincerity of giving us back what is rightfully ours, as he is still intending to dictate the terms of its return,” said Yii.
He contrasted this with the Pakatan Harapan manifesto which recognised the territorial status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the federation.
“We have also pledged 20 per cent oil royalty and also 50 per cent of all taxes collected in Sarawak back to the state even if the state government is still under BN. We also will give full autonomy in education and healthcare back to the state so we can chart our own future in these two critical departments and take care of our own matters.
“Imagine this, even when PM Najib Razak is at his lowest and weakest position, and would likely require the votes from Sabah and Sarawak to secure his position, yet he and the BN government are unwilling to give in and return our rights which in the first place were taken away by the same BN government; what makes you think he would return it when he is in a stronger position?”
Yii said a vote for BN Sarawak and its component parties — Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) — is a vote to strengthen the position of Najib and UMNO in the federation.
“When he (Najib) is at his weakest, he did not give in to the desires of people of Sarawak. This either shows the weakness of our BN Sarawak government in upholding our interest and rights, or the fact that Najib and UMNO never intended to recognise our rights since the beginning,” said Yii.
He also said the recently launched BN Sarawak manifesto has failed to recognise Sarawak’s rightful standing under MA63 and it repeated many other promises from the past which have never been fulfilled.
He claimed that despite the highly publicised and publicly-funded trip to London, the state BN government had little to show for all their efforts.
“All that was listed were the mere 13 administrative delegation of powers to the state, which failed to capture the imagination of the people and address the core desire of the people of Sarawak.
“The primary core of our special rights is the recognition of our equal status as founding partners in the federation, which is distinctively missing in their manifesto. Besides that, our demand for 20 per cent oil royalty, which was a motion unanimously passed in our State Assembly back in 2014, are also notably missing. Despite the much talked about Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Berhad) by (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg), but yet our oil royalty remains a meagre 5 per cent.
“On top of that, there was not any form or even intention shown of any fiscal devolution and returning of the power of taxation to the state, which is the most integral part when it comes to our fight for greater autonomy. If we do not have the power over taxation, we will forever be at the mercy of the federal government in terms of funding and allocations to run our critical departments in the state including education and healthcare.” — DayakDaily