Sarawak independence referendum tops STAR election agenda

Soo addressing the press conference. Also seen are Buln and Teo (right).

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By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Dec 7: State Reform Party (STAR) will push for the independence referendum of Sarawak as its core political agenda in the coming state election due 2021.

Its president Lina Soo said the party is set on a course to pursue an independence referendum for Sarawak, which will give the power of the vote to citizens to choose and determine their future.

Soo added that it is the cardinal principle of self-determination, where the permanent population of a defined territory has the inalienable right to decide their political, cultural and economic future.

“An independence referendum is a voting process where citizens can decide whether the territory should become an independent sovereign state,” she told a press conference here today.

She explained that a sovereign state refers to a nation that is complete with full powers over its existence, government and territory with the capacity to enter into negotiation or war with any other sovereign nation.

“No political party or government can decide for its citizens except through a free and fair balloting process by popular vote,” she continued.

Soo revealed that major powers and world institutions recognise the independence referendum as a prerequisite for nations seeking sovereignty status.

An independence referendum is an internationally recognised process and mechanism for the emergence of new sovereign states, she added.

She said a successful independence referendum is proof of popular support by the people and carries the requisite legitimacy to govern the territory, as exemplified by Eritrea (1993), Timor Leste (1999), Montenegro (2006) and South Sudan (2011).

She further explained that in an independence referendum, it is usually a “Yes-or-No” vote for independence or continued union in a larger political entity such as a federation.

For Sarawak to hold an independence referendum, Soo said that it can go through the parliament or the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) to pass an independence referendum ordinance bills.

“The United States Constitution and of many countries do not have the constitutional provision for referendums. United Kingdom does not even a written constitution but both British and Scottish governments agreed to an independence referendum for Scotland in the Edinburgh Agreement signed in October 2012, whereupon the Scottish Parliament passed the Scottish independence Referendum Act 2013 in November 2013.

“Norwegian Constitution does not mention referendums at all and Norway has no referendum law. However, six referendums were held with the most important one being the independence referendum for dissolving the union with Sweden on August 13, 1905, and it was approved by 99.95 per cent of the voters.”

Soo cited the speech by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in New York on Sept 29, 2018, where he had admitted that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 does not bar Sarawak and Sabah from seeking independence, but that what the two nations want is only autonomy.

She claimed that informal surveys amongst Sarawakians across sections of the community, there is a growing awareness of civic rights and calls are getting louder for the right to vote to decide the state’s political future.

“We believe that Sarawakians are now politically matured and ready to make an informed decision to determine the sovereignty and future of our nation,” said Soo.

STAR chairman Buln Ribos and assistant secretary Teo Kuan Kim were present. — DayakDaily