S4S explains salient points of its Sarawak Manifesto 2018

Tan Kok Chiang

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KUCHING, Oct 30: Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S)’s 10 recommendations in its Sarawak Manifesto 2018 serves as a reminder to the government to expedite the reclaiming of the state’s full autonomy as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement (MA63).

S4S spokesperson Tan Kok Chiang said the manifesto, published on Aug 18 and available in English, Malay, Chinese and Iban languages, was also meant to raise public awareness on the rights of Sarawakians that needed to be looked into.

“We have received many public queries on why we set up these 10 recommendations in our Sarawak Manifesto 2018. We have compiled some of the main questions and provide our responses accordingly,” Tan said in a statement today.

Among the 10 recommendations, which have been forwarded to the chief minister and other state cabinet members, included the need to set up a sovereign fund to protect the interests of the people and immediate enforcement of the state Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 to prohibit companies that did not apply for permits with Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) by Dec 31 to cease operations.

“It is important for the Sarawak government to enforce the legal rights of OMO, considering that the date has been postponed from July 1 this year to the end of 2019.

“Both oil and natural gas are resources of Sarawak, and these resources are drawn away from the state every year. Sarawak has contributed billions of ringgit to the federal government but only received minimal distribution revenue. If these companies continue to ignore the existence of Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Berhad), they must be forced to stop work,” he said.

S4S also called for the reduction of electricity tariffs, especially considering that the state government now owned Bakun Dam.

In addition, the civil movement demanded local government elections to be reintroduced.

“The local government election is a right given to Sarawak under MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963). S4S advocates for these elections to be based on candidates and not the party to see who are the dedicated people’s representatives.”

Other conditions include calls for the setting up of a central bank for Sarawakians and restoring the Sarawak immigration entry system using passports for Malaysians from the peninsula and Sabah.

“The Sarawak Development Bank (DBOS) was created to ease loan applications to carry out infrastructure development projects, following inconvenience and complications to apply for loans from banks that had merged during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s era.

“Even the state government had to borrow from these merged banks. A Sarawak central bank would provide better opportunities to support business activities of Sarawakians,” Tan reckoned.

As for the passport use, he believed this would help to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants using fake identification cards.

S4S also called for more provision of study loans and scholarships from the state government to help local students so that more people are able to afford tertiary studies.

A special fund to aid Sarawakians in pursuit of higher learning would lessen competition for fund allocations under the Public Service Bureau’s domestic and international scholarship programme and the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), amongst others.

Other recommendations include the immediate announcement of findings from the state’s legal team visit to London pertaining to declassified MA63 documents and discontinuing the official state-level celebration of the Aug 31 Independence Day.

S4S also called on the state government to pursue a takeover of MASwings to improve air connectivity and services to the state’s rural areas. — DayakDaily