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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Jan 14: Sarawak’s recognition as a region must be translated into bigger financial allocations from the Federal government to be meaningful, said Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum.
With Sarawak and Sabah still behind in terms of infrastructure development, Salang urged the Federal government to provide sufficient allocations to enable Sarawak to develop more rapidly.
“It is due to the size of Sarawak and the region’s rural nature that development takes much longer.
“We want all Malaysians, especially those from Peninsula Malaysia, to realise that Sarawak and Sabah are still behind in terms of infrastructure and utilities,” he told a press conference after chairing PRS’ Supreme Council meeting held at the party headquarters, which was attended by top party leaders here today.
As such, Salang viewed positively that there are presently more open conversations among Malaysians on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report.
“We are very happy (that Sarawak and Sabah are being recognised as regions). For old people like myself, we have always regarded Sarawak and Sabah as a region and not a State since the formation of Malaysia.
“Even the Umno president (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) declared that this is the situation (Sarawak and Sabah are now regions and not States in Malaysia) during the party’s general assembly.
“With more people talking about this, more people will understand how Malaysia was formed, why Sarawak has its own immigration law and special allocation and why Sarawak deserves more autonomy to develop the region,” he said.
Salang also reminded all Sarawakians that they must feel that huge sense of independence and responsibility — the Sarawakian identity — in driving Sarawak’s progress through greater inclusivity and representation.
“These are signs that we have autonomy in deciding our future,” he added.
Yesterday (Jan 13) at the United Malays National Organisation’s (Umno) general assembly, Ahmad Zahid, also Deputy Prime Minister, said that Sarawak and Sabah are no longer States but regions within Malaysia.
With that, he emphasised that MA63 needed to be translated for implementation immediately by the unity government, which is crucial given that Indonesian capital is being relocated to East Kalimantan, which will position Sabah and Sarawak to become more strategic to be developed as new growth areas. — DayakDaily