INDEED, as sons and daughters of this Motherland, we are all proud of this day (July 22) when she achieved her independence 55 year ago.
A person at this age would be a matured individual in all sense of the word: focused, relentless in achieving set goals and ready to take any challenge that lies ahead.
On hindsight, we must acknowledge we are glad to belong to one big entity called Malaysia because we have grown quite well as a united nation, where all races live in peace and harmony.
Ever since gaining independence through Malaysia, Sarawak has been led by six chief ministers: Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Dato Sri Penghulu Tawi Sli, Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Yakub, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and now Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
While four of these leaders have left us, we shall always remember all of them as part of our modern history — no matter how they led us in the past. Let us not dwell or judge their performances as it would be unfair to do so for they will no longer be able to defend themselves.
But whatever it is, each one of them has, one way or another, contributed significantly for the betterment of Sarawak.
However, Sarawak will always remember the late Adenan, who is fondly referred to as ‘Tok Nan’, as he was the one who ignited the fire of patriotism among Sarawakians to demand for our rights from Putrajaya. Even though his reign was the shortest compared to his predecessors — following his demise on January 11, 2017 — his refreshing leadership style remains fresh in our memories.
Abang Johari, as the new captain of ‘Team Adenan’, has been resolute in pursuing greater autonomy for Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). Sarawak should never have been transformed into one of the 13 states in Malaysia. It should have remained as an equal partner with Malaya and Sabah, which formed the federation along with Singapore. Singapore pulled out in 1965.
Sarawak’s rights as an equal partner eroded over the years, leading to massive losses in terms of its resources, notably oil and gas. This was particularly so after the enactment of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974). Sarawak actually lost billions of ringgit annually because of it and thus lacked the means to build roads and to bring electricity and treated water to the rural areas. Malaya, on the other hand, benefited greatly from Sarawak’s miseries, as attested by the developments they have been enjoying for decades.
Due to this, Abang Johari and his team have, over the past 18 months or so, been negotiating with Putrajaya to get back Sarawak’s rights. While waiting for Putrajaya to play Santa Claus, Abang Johari took to the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Wednesday to tell the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad administration that the state needed a four-fold increase in its annual development funds to enable Sarawak to play catch up with the rest of the country.
He also insisted that since the PDA 1974 was never endorsed by the DUN, it should, therefore, not be enforced on Sarawak and that the MA63 should remained supreme.
However, with the current political climate, whereby Pakatan Harapan (PH) helms the federal government, it is indeed wise for Sarawak not to be provocative. It should continue to stay friendly in order to achieve the best deals that it deserves. After all, the PH federal government is also represented by 12 Members of Parliament from Sarawak.
These 12 PH MPs and 19 Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs must not fail Sarawakians. They must fight for greater autonomy and rights as contained in the MA63 as they have been voted by the people to serve them.
The PH and GPS MPs should sit down together and stop pointing fingers as to who shall be responsible to fight for the rights of Sarawak. After all, we are all sons and daughters of Fairland Sarawak, and that should be the guiding force for all of us.
Happy birthday to Thee
March forward with dignity
Oh all Ye who are worthy of Thee
Reach for the stars with Thee we shall be
For we must stick with Thee forever be…