KUCHING: Three major events which led to the erosion of Sarawak’s rights happened under the watch of Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs during times when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not holding the position of prime minister.
In a press statement yesterday, Pakatan Harapan Sarawak publicity chief Vernon Kedit implied that Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah’s recent statement that, “Most of Sarawak’s rights enshrined under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were taken away when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister,” presented a misleading picture.
“Perhaps the Minister is forgetful or perhaps he chooses to forget, or worse still, perhaps he is not so conversant with history and historical facts,” Vernon said.
“Firstly, the most significant erosion of Sarawak’s rights was the amendment to Article 1(2) which was among 48 amendments to the Federal Constitution under a Bill tabled by the then Prime Minister Datuk Hussein Onn on July 12, 1976 and was passed on July 13, 1976. This essentially downgraded the Territory of Sarawak to the status of ‘negeri’.
“The PBB MPs who voted for this amendment to strip Sarawak of its EQUAL STATUS with the Federation of Malaya and Sabah were (then) Datuk Amar Abdul Taib Mahmud (Samarahan), Dr. Sulaman Daud (Santubong), (Tun) Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Ya’kub (Payang), Penghulu Abit Angkin (Kapit), Racha Umong (Limbang-Lawas), Hadadak D Pasuak (Simunjan), and Liben Kato @ Wairy Leben Kato (Betong). Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was not the Prime Minister at the time.”
The second significant instance happened two years before that when the Petroleum Resources & Petroleum Development Act 1974 was also passed in Parliament which caused the state to lose the right to control its own natural resources and was fully supported by PBB’s parliamentarians, Vernon added.
“Sarawak surrendered 95 per cent of its oil income to the Federal Government, keeping for ourselves only a meagre 5 per cent. The Prime Minister then was Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the father of the current Prime Minister, Najib Razak. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was not the Prime Minister at the time.”
The third significant instance highlighted by Vernon was the Territorial Sea Act 2012 which was also passed in Parliament with the full support of PBB parliamentarians which limits Sarawak’s maritime authority to three nautical miles (5.5 km) from the coastline.
“The implication is that with the reduced breadth limits of its territorial waters, the state’s rights to fisheries, marine and mineral resources, tourism sites in marine areas and so forth are now confined to only 3 nautical miles (5.56 km) from its coastline. This was a physical erosion of Sarawak’s right in that our territorial border was severely curtailed. In 2012, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak was the Prime Minister. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had already retired by the time!”
Vernon also highlighted that the Tourism Tax ‘fiasco’ is currently happening where Abdul Karim’s own party’s parliamentarians stood by and watched and voted for monies collected through tourism in Sarawak to go directly to the Federal coffers.
“The retired 92-year-old Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was certainly nowhere near Parliament nor Putrajaya at the time sitting as the Prime Minister!
“The point is clear: Sarawak’s rights cannot be taken away, much less eroded, without the consent of Sarawakians themselves. It is Barisan Nasional Sarawak, led by PBB, in Parliament, that is responsible for the erosion of our rights.
“As for Tun Mahathir apologising to Sarawakians for allegedly eroding the rights of Sarawak, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has again gotten his facts muddled. It is PBB and all its parliamentarians and past and present, and the Chief Ministers who were at the helm when these erosions occurred with their full consent who should really apologise to Sarawakians for being in league with UMNO in leading Barisan Nasional Sarawak to erode Sarawak’s rights. Historical facts cannot be spun or denied and the Malaysian Parliament’s Hansard is clear for all to peruse.
“Tun Mahathir will speak on Sunday at BDC in front of Everrise from 6.30pm onwards and we shall hear what Tun will have to say to these false accusations levelled against him by Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.”
Dr Mahathir together with Democratic Action Party stalwart Lim Kit Siang and Amanah’s Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli are scheduled to attend the Pakatan Harapan Sarawak ‘ceramah’ today in front of BDC Everrise.