‘S’wak surrendered control over forest biological resources, port management in July’

Chong (right) and his special assistant Abdul Aziz Isa at a press conference this morning.

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KUCHING: Sarawak lost its exclusive power over its forest biological resources and port management after the passing of the Access to Biological Resources and Benefits Sharing Bill, 2017 and Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill 2017 which took place in the parliamentary sitting in July.

State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen made these claims at a press conference this morning.

“All Sarawak (BN) MPs and Senators supported the two bills.

“Not only has Sarawak not made any headway in the demand for more autonomy, but Sarawak’s rights are still continuously eroded by the federal government amidst all the ‘autonomy’ talk.”

He thus said if the state BN could not even defend the rights expressly provided in the Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement, the talks about the documents prior to the Malaysia Agreement will amount to nothing.

Chong was responding to Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Assistant Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali who had earlier claimed that the London Mission trip in July has yielded a good outcome with the delegation discovering other important constitutional documents which reinforce the state’s rights including rights over the Continental Shelf, territorial seas, and offshore oil mining prior to and after Malaysia Day.

The delegation was also able to find documents in classified or confidential files belonging to Sarawak, which were sent back by the outgoing Colonial Administration to London prior to Malaysia Day in accordance with the British government circular that the new independent government had no access to.

Chong who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Bandar Kuching MP also stressed that the state BN had forgotten what the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem had said in the state assembly sitting in 2016 that the Territorial Sea Act 2012 was unconstitutional and thus null and void.

“Since the passing of the late Adenan in early 2017, the BN state government continues to allow such an ‘unconstitutional law’ to take its effect and allows the federal government unfettered rights to exploit our offshore oil, fishery and marine resources in Sarawak waters,” said Chong.

He also claimed the search for the historical documents was a typical distraction tactic employed by Sarawak BN on the issue of ‘autonomy’ when it knew full well that its counterpart in Putrajaya will not agree to the devolution of power.

Chong said documents prior to the signing of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were useful for museum archives and academic researchers, but had no added value to the fight for autonomy because all documents prior to the signing might help to interpret the documents (MA63) but they would not have any binding power by law.

“The state government’s reluctance to disclose the documents from its London trip only goes to show that such a trip, though done in the name of ‘enhancing Sarawak’s position to negotiate for more autonomy’, is, in fact, a total waste of taxpayers’ money.

“All such talk about using the historical documents to help in Sarawak’s effort to reclaim its rights is just beating around the bush and a red herring by the BN Sarawak government to cover up for its failure to obtain more autonomy for Sarawak,” said Chong.

On the other hand, Pakatan Harapan had promised, among other things, fiscal decentralisation which meant 50 per cent of all taxes collected in Sarawak and 20 per cent of oil and gas royalties would go to the state government if it came into power.