Refer all referendum, secession talks to DUN, suggests Don

Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 5: The right channel for Sarawakians seeking referendum and even secession from Malaysia must go through the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) as it is the highest law-making body in Sarawak, opined Universiti Malaya political analyst, Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

“Laws such as the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 (Amendment Bill) have been passed through the DUN and is respected by the Federal Government. So what better avenue do we have other than the DUN to voice our dissatisfaction?” he told DayakDaily today.

The OMO 1958 (Amendment Bill) was tabled and passed in DUN in July last year. It allows Sarawak to have regulatory rights over its oil and gas resources.

Awang Azman added that dissatisfaction among some Sarawakians against the federal government should be viewed with openness and tolerance and should not be suppressed as long as they are within the ambit of the law.

“In my opinion, what the Sarawak government is doing now is the right thing, which is by continuing to negotiate with the federal government for the best deals for Sarawak. On the other hand, those who are not happy with the present setup must express themselves within the ambit of law,” he reiterated.

He said it had been in Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s election manifesto to allow freedom of speech for all citizens in the country.

“So, freedom of speech must be guaranteed for everyone. In this case, the Sedition Act must not be used on those who are expressing their dissatisfaction for as long as they don’t break the law and create trouble,” he stressed.

Awang Azman also cautioned that there was a limit to freedom of expression, not specifically mentioned in the Sedition Act, which among others, states that anyone who incites hatred or contempt or to cause ill feelings towards the administration, may be charged under this Act.

He pointed out that the Sedition Act might also be imposed on those who create feelings of malice and hostility between races in the country or to question any matter, rights, status, positions, privileges, sovereignty or prerogative as prescribed or protected under provisions Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.

Awang Azman was commenting on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement in Parliament that action would only be taken under the Sedition Act against those who call for Sarawak’s secession from Malaysia if they jeopardised public order and security.

Francis Siah – file pic

Meanwhile, Movement of Change Sarawak (MoCS) chairman, Francis Siah said Dr Mahathir’s reply in Parliament could either be taken as a “threat” or an “advice”.

“I think it would be healthy for all to see the PM’s response as advice as he has clearly stated that `the Sedition Act will only be utilised in cases where an act of sedition creates a situation that is beyond control that it jeopardises the security and public order’,” he said.

Siah stressed that it is true that the voices for secession among Sarawakians are growing louder by the day.

“It is also true that all these years, the proponents of independence for Sarawak have always carried out their activities in a peaceful and orderly manner.

“I do not see how that is going to change as Sarawakians have been known as peaceful and non-violent people. Rallies organised by pro-Independence Sarawakians are evidence of this, which the Sarawak police can easily testify to. There are no clashes of any kind reported at all. This is the Sarawakian way,” he said.

Siah pointed out that MoCS was glad that the PM had stated that his administration’s policy is to promote freedom of speech but he could go one step further by repealing the Sedition Act, which is archaic.

“Provisions in the Penal Code suffice,” he added.

He also expressed his shock with Lanang MP Alice Lau, who found it necessary to ask what action could be taken against her fellow Sarawakians for their pro-Independence stand. — DayakDaily