KUCHING, Dec 23: Senator Robert Lau proposes every ministry should have a separate development budget of 50 per cent for Sarawak and Sabah.
He suggested that this will be administered by the ministry in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs, unless a mutual agreement can be reached between the two Borneo territories and the federal government in compliance with Article 112C and 112D on special grants.
With the amendment to the definition of “Federation” today affirming the view that the new federation was formed consisting of two equal parts—the Federation of Malaya and the Borneo States—Lau emphasised that how the national budget is drawn every year must change by allocating much more funds to Sarawak and Sabah.
“The federal government has failed to implement the special grants for Sarawak and Sabah provided for in Article 112C and 112D since 1968.
“The power and financial resources of Malaysia must reflect the partnership of two equals. Sadly, the two Borneo States still do not get their fair share in terms of development fund.
“On the contrary, they are the major contributors to the national coffer. This has been the main cause of grievances among the people of Sarawak and Sabah,” he said when debating the Bill to amend the Federal Constitution in line with Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in Dewan Negara today.
Lau also reminded his peers in the august House that the recently concluded 12th Sarawak Election was a clear reflection of the unhappy sentiment of Sarawakians which they expressed by rejecting federal or national political parties.
“The people instead overwhelmingly supported new Sarawak-based parties under the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) umbrella, which won 76 out of 82 seats with the slogan of ‘Sarawak First’,” he added.
The amendment of the Federal Constitution before the Senate today, he highlighted, was to right the wrongs inflicted on Sarawak and Sabah in 1976 and to confirm that Malaysia was formed as a new country in 1963 consisting of three parts and later, two with the exit of Singapore in 1965.
Lau said throughout the period after the formation of Malaysia until 2008, when Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the two-third majority in the Lower House of the Parliament, the Federal Constitution was amended more than 50 times.
“Some of these amendments significantly changed the nature of Malaysia and withered the rights of Sarawak and Sabah. One such right was to reduce Sarawak and Sabah from equal partners to be one of the states of the Federation of Malaya in the 1976 amendment,” he added.
Providing some historical background, Lau said the newly formed Malaysia was presented to the United Nations (UN) in 1963 as a change of name from Malaya to Malaysia which was done in the form of a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Federation of Malaya to the UN, Dato Ong Yoke Lin to the UN Secretary General on Sept 16, 1963.
“The letter did not expressly mention there was addition of three new territories, namely, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah as the concept of Malaysia was objected to by the Philippines and Indonesia.
“The formation of Malaysia came under an international agreement, the MA63. Curiously, this 1963 Agreement was only registered with the UN seven years later on Sept 21, 1970 under registration no. 10760. It was stated in the registration the subject terms were ‘Geographical names’.”
On the amendment to the definition of natives of Sarawak in Article 161A (6) and (7) by giving the power to Sarawak State Legislature to decide and interpret, Lau said this is indeed the right step as what only concerns the people of Sarawak should be decided by the people of Sarawak.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed the Bill with more than a two-third majority today.
All 49 senators present voted in favour of the Bill in a bloc vote after the second and third readings, while five others were absent.
On Dec 14, the Bill was passed at the Dewan Rakyat, also with more than a two-third majority. — DayakDaily