By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 1: When the Barisan Nasional (BN) was still all mighty and powerful, Sarawak BN managed to keep the coalition’s lynchpin Umno from spreading its wings to the state.
Prior to GE14, when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in the opposition, state PH leaders also kept badgering Sarawak BN — which comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) — to keep the door shut from Umno.
But now that power has changed hands in Putrajaya, some local politicians are stunned that Sarawak PH, notably the Democratic Action Party (DAP), is openly welcoming Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to set up base in the state. They are shocked because they consider Bersatu to be Umno 2.0 in reality.
“But now look, who are the ones welcoming Bersatu to Sarawak?” asked PBB Information chief Datuk Idris Buang, when contacted by DayakDaily today.
As such, he advised Sarawakians, especially PBB members, to remember the core struggle of PBB, which is to fight for the rights of Sarawakians.
“Most importantly, PBB will continue to focus on developing the state. Now that we are no longer part of BN, we will continue to struggle for Sarawak’s rights as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“We have been consistent with our demands based on our rights under MA63 since the time of the late Tok Nan (late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) and now it is being strengthened by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg,” he said.
The Muara Tuang assemblyman pointed out that during the era of Dr Mahathir 1.0, when he was Umno president, Sarawak did not see significant development when compared to development in the peninsula.
“The only place that he developed is Bintulu LNG, which is perhaps why he will launch his party there tonight. But look at elsewhere in Sarawak. He was there for 22 years. Now, do you think he can bring development to Sarawak? Look at PH’s first budget that was tabled recently, where it allocated merely RM4.346 billion to Sarawak.
“And at the rate the allocation from the federal government is given to Sarawak, there is no way we can ever catch up with the development taking place in Peninsular Malaysia.
“That’s why the chief minister has been very wise and farsighted to introduce the sales tax on petroleum-based products to increase the state’s revenue base so that we can use it to develop Sarawak, as it so deserved. And hopefully, with the current rate of allocation made by the state government, we can even surpass development in Peninsular Malaysia in the near future,” reckoned Idris.
Recently, Abang Johari announced a record budget of RM11.91 billion, where RM9.073 billion would be allocated for development, especially in the rural areas.
Meanwhile, PDP deputy president Datuk Nelson Balang Rining opined that Sarawak is best administered by Sarawak-based parties. He said he was aware that certain quarters, especially the younger generation, might want to see a change to the state’s administration.
“But if that happens and then if they can’t deliver on their promises, it would be too late to change back as proven by the current PH-led federal government, with its inability to fulfil its election manifesto,” said the former Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.
PRS secretary-general Datuk Janang Bungsu, when contacted, said Bersatu’s entry into Sarawak showed its insincerity in wanting to give back the state’s rights under the MA63.
“If the federal government wants to strengthen MA63, there is no reason for Bersatu to establish itself in Sarawak. There is also no reason why PKR and DAP want to be here. Its pure insincerity on their part,” he said.
Janang concurred with both Idris’ and Balang’s stand that only Sarawak-based parties would genuinely fight for Sarawak’s interest with full sincerity. — DayakDaily