KUCHING, May 25: State legal counsel Dato Sri Fong Joo Chung asserts that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) grants Sarawak a degree of financial autonomy, allowing the Sarawak government to pursue certain policies that would accelerate the state’s development, creating opportunities for both citizens and businesses and industries in particular.
According to a press release, Deputy Head of School (Business) of the Faculty of Business, Design, and Arts (FBDA) at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Markson Chin, interviewed Fong at the latter’s office in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) on April 17, 2023 to better understand the implications of MA63 for the business community.
Fong was the keynote guest speaker at the first SwinTalk Series for 2023, which took place on May 24 at the Swinburne Sarawak campus.
“MA63 provides a platform for the formation of Malaysia. It prescribes the rights of Sarawak when Sarawak joined the Federation. It confirms that Sarawak joined the Federation as a partner and not as one of the states in Malaysia.
“It is important for Sarawakians to know and understand what MA63 is about constitutionally. For entrepreneurs and businesspeople, while they focus primarily on the affairs of their businesses, it would serve them well to comprehend the importance of MA63 on the economy of Sarawak,” Fong told Chin.
He went on to say that MA63 provides that Sarawak would have certain safeguards for its special interests, rights, and privileges, including a certain degree of financial autonomy and additional revenue sources.
“This is very important for Sarawak to develop, prosper, and to be able to look after its people’s well-being. When we have a certain degree of financial autonomy, the Sarawak government can pursue certain policies that would accelerate the development of the state.
“MA63 also provides that we are in control of our natural resources, such as land, forestry, minerals, and so on. This not only provides revenue for the state, but also opportunities for our people to work in the oil and gas industries, the mineral sector, and the downstream aspects of these industries, including the downstream timber industry.
Furthermore, Fong emphasised that MA63 should not be viewed as a document that governs the State-Federal relationship, but rather as an agreement that guarantees Sarawak a degree of financial autonomy that it is entitled to, as well as additional revenue sources.
“If these are not provided, we are not able to be fully in charge of our destiny. In short, this is the relationship between what is provided for in the MA63 in terms of financial autonomy, the sources of revenue available to us, the protection of resources, and the issue of developing entrepreneurship and business opportunities for our people.”
When asked how to ensure that Sarawakians, particularly the younger generation, are aware of Sarawakian rights in the future, Fong stated, “We need citizens to understand how the Federation or Federal system of government works, and this entails a certain degree of constitutional literacy.
“The fact that Swinburne is organising such a talk is one way that promotes constitutional literacy so that more people can understand better, appreciate, and will seriously and zealously guard against any intrusion or erosion of our state’s constitutional rights.”
Fong also explained that when Sarawak first joined Malaysia, the Continental Shelf was part of Sarawak territory, and the seabeds and subsoils were state land.
“However, the two federal Acts cannot be enforced in Sabah and Sarawak because it involves State land which includes the land in the Continental Shelf, seabed, and subsoil, regardless of the character of the waters above it.”
SwinTalk Series is held quarterly with industry partners that help develop knowledge and promote sharing of experience and mentorship with Swinburne’s Entrepreneurship Hub.
Open to members of the public, SwinTalk Series #1 is organised in collaboration with the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).
For more information, please email SwinTalk@swinburne.edu.my. For more information on Swinburne Sarawak, visit its website (www.swinburne.edu.my), Facebook page (@swinburnesarawak), Instagram (@swinburnesarawak), Twitter page (@Swinburne_Swk) or YouTube channel (Swinburne Sarawak). — DayakDaily