“Don’t be like sugarcane”: Ugak reminds Putrajaya not to shortchange Sarawak over MA63

Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong (file pic)

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 14: Malaysia should not be like sugar cane, sweet at the beginning but tasteless towards the end.

Hulu Rejang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong reminded Parliament today of the words of wisdom spoken by the late Tun Temenggong Jugah Barieng, the paramount chief of the Iban people who was the key person in the unification of Sarawak with Sabah and Malaya in the formation of Malaysia, as he reminded his counterparts to not shortchange Sarawak over the trust given in 1963.

“At that time, my late father (Penghulu Kumbong) together with other 51 Iban community leaders led by Tun Jugah met with the Cobbold Commission team over the formation of Malaysia in Kapit on March 19, 1962. They agreed to the formation of Malaysia because they believed in the leadership and vision that had been explained to them.

“But now it is like ‘asked for sugar cane, but given tobacco’. Even after 58 years of independence enjoyed in Sarawak, we are still envious of the development enjoyed by our brothers and sisters in the peninsula,” he said when debating the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Ugak emphasised that Malaysia should embrace the unique differences between states, territories, customs and cultures that exist to this day without discrimination against anyone who has a different ideology.

“I am sure we all have different molds but something that unites us is this land as we are all anak Malaysia.

“The late Tun Jugah once said ‘Idup ka nyawa dulu. Udah urat tegap, baru kitai ulih bejaku’, meaning ‘Give life to yourself first. Once your foundation is solid, then you can talk and act’,” he said.

As such, he pointed out, restoring the statuses of Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia is important in forming a strong foundation and strengthening the relationship between the three regions.

Originally, Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya, he explained, should have been equal partners according to Article 1, Clause 2 in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) but following the amendments in 1976, the two Borneo states have been placed in the same position as other states in the Federation of Malaya with their status appeared to be downgraded from “partners” to “children”.

Apart from the equal partnership issue, he added, there are several other matters in MA63 which should be respected by all parties including the rights and autonomous powers allocated to Sarawak and Sabah which should be preserved and even improved in line with matters agreed during the formation of Malaysia.

“Malaysia Day on Sept 16 which marked the union of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore was not even mentioned in the Federal Constitution.

“In the ‘Malaysian Family’ spirit and for future generations to understand how and why, it is important for us Malaysians to appreciate the Malaysia Day celebration.

“This amendment will open a new chapter in the Malaysia Day celebration for years to come that will not only be felt by Sarawak and Sabah but the entire nation,” he said, while giving his full support to the amendment bill. — DayakDaily