NGO moots referendum idea to gauge Sarawakians’ sentiment about Putrajaya’s treatment of Sarawak

Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING, Sept 9: Sarawak Patriot Association is wondering whether there is a way to hold a referendum to let Sarawakians vote whether they are happy with what the federal government is doing for Sarawak.

Its chairman, Datuk John Lau, said this could be an option besides solving issues through friendly negotiations, consultations and discussions.

“I am, however, unsure, if there is a chance to involve a bigger audience in this exercise (referendum), but lots of my friends are asking me,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the coming 55th Malaysia Day celebration on Sept 16.

On the fast-approaching Malaysia Day celebration, Lau said Sarawakians must reflect upon themselves and asked whether they had benefited for being a partner in Malaysia.

He said friends at local coffee shops were asking many questions, including “the quantum of our happiness, our wealth and prosperity now as compared to 55 years, the question on whether the rights of Sarawakians under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are fulfilled or taken away and whether in the next five years we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary”.

Lau added that there were also lots of discussions about self-autonomy in Sarawak.

“If we are not happy and if any of our rights have been taken away, can we ask the federal government to return our rights?” he said.

Lau noted that in recent weeks, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that allocation of federal funds was based on population and return on investment. But, Lau argued, although Sarawak’s population was only around three million, the tax collected by the federal government from oil and gas, timber, minerals, oil palm, rubber and pepper here were more than from other states in the peninsula.

Lau also wondered whether Sarawak could ask the federal government to reconsider and allocate funds due to the state after 55 years of neglect. — DayakDaily