[EXCLUSIVE] Don’t treat Sarawak like ‘stepchild’ in Federation of Malaysia family, says Abdul Karim

By Ling Hui, Lian Cheng & Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 16: Sarawak refuses to feel like a ‘stepchild’ in a family of many children where Her rights are being diminished, as there should be fair treatment to all.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah used this analogy of a family to describe the current status of Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.

“It’s just like being in a family. If you’ve got three to four children, you cannot just be looking after one or two of the children and not being fair to the others.

“You cannot make them feel as if they are stepsons or stepdaughters. All of them must be feeling equally the same. It’s the same with this grand coalition called Malaysia,” he told DayakDaily reporters today.

One of the incidents where the rights of Sarawakians have been and are being undermined, he said, is the fact that the status of Sarawak has been belittled to the same level as other states within Peninsula Malaysia, when it should not be the case.

He said during the signing of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), there were only three signatories, excluding Singapore that later left the federation, each representing Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Thus, he said Sarawak and Sabah are either regions or territories with the same stature with Peninsula Malaysia as a whole and not the smaller states within.

Abdul Karim, who is also Youth and Sports Minister, said Sarawak then was being bullied and now too slowly stripped of its rightful privileges, but Sarawakians are growing to be aware of the situation and will fight for its stand.

“You can say we were being bullied. Malaya (Peninsula Malaysia) at that time had more professionals, more lawyers.

“They were able to see things from different perspectives, they were able to know how to maneuver so that’s why the Federal Constitution was amended initially under Article 1 and we (Sarawak’s status) seem to be different.

“Somehow, through the years we are taken out and put together with other (smaller) states. That’s why one of the things we have to fight for is to separate ourselves so that Peninsula Malaysia is one, Sabah and Sarawak are also one,” he said.

Looking back in time, when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin came to Sarawak for a working visit on April 1, he said during a townhall session that he had once cautioned the federal government representatives not to underestimate Sarawak representatives in any national discussions as they are smart and well-aware of their own rights. — DayakDaily