PBB leader hopes Dr M is sincere in wanting to return equal partnership status to Sarawak, Sabah

Dato Idris Buang

KUCHING, Sept 30: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) information chief Datuk Idris Buang said the return of equal partnership to Sarawak and Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) must be in practical terms and not mere rhetoric or lip service.

He told DayakDaily that it would be useless to just acknowledge it without actual policy change or follow-up actions that show a genuine sincerity in honouring the terms of MA63.

First of all, he said the federal government under Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had said he would return the rights to Sarawak and Sabah, must initiate a parliamentary motion to remove that section of the Federal Constitution, in particular Article 1(2) thereof, that reduced Sarawak and Sabah into the 12th and 13th states within the federation.

“Then there must be some real transparent executive/administrative policy and actions that give equal opportunities and treatment for citizens in every aspect of the civil service, education, business and economic participation as well as foreign investment to be directed to Sarawak and Sabah,” said Idris, citing the Cabotage Policy and telecommunication policy since the years of old as discriminative and “colonial” in outlook.

Idris, who is Muara Tuang assemblyman, pointed out that in terms of civil service, “Borneonisation” must be practised as it was clearly stated in the MA63.

“Borneonisation, when put into practical terms, also means the posts of officers and heads of federal departments in Sarawak and Sabah should be on a first priority basis offered to and held by qualified Sarawakians and Sabahans respectively.

“It should not be the case where the top positions are given to those from Peninsular Malaysia. Our people are as capable and qualified to be appointed as head of departments in these federal agencies,” said Idris, adding that this should extend to federal government-linked companies too.

Another point on real partnership or “equitability” as envisaged by MA63 is on the allocation of parliamentary seats to both Sarawak and Sabah. They must be given a third of the total 222 seats.

In 1963, Sarawak and Sabah were given 40 out of the 159 seats in parliament, and that equalled 25.15 per cent. But since Singapore had left the federation, Sarawak and Sabah ought to have a fair number of those seats, but that is not the case.

Currently, Sarawak is allocated 31 seats and Sabah 25 seats, making a total of 56 seats. This equals about 25 per cent of the current total number of parliamentary seats of 222.

“From the present total number of 222 seats, we ought to have 74 seats, isn’t it? But that is not the case. That is why we are left behind in many respects, be it rural or urban development, education, public amenities and utility, and others.

“We lacked the amount and degree of representation. We have been subjugated in terms of number and priorities in whatever things we all needed. Our voice in term of number is minimalised and naturally secondary.

“Remember, our late Tok Nan (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) used to say ‘without Sarawak and Sabah, there is no Malaysia’. Now we all know, without our oil and gas, the whole Malaysia cannot survive this challenging global scenario economically. I am sorry to be bold, but I need to state the truth,” he said. — DayakDaily