There ought to be UK representation in Special Cabinet Committee, says PRS leader

KUCHING, Oct 12: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth chief Datuk Snowdan Lawan said he does not see anything `special’ about the 16 member Special Cabinet Committee (SCC) on Malaysia Agreement 63 (MA63) without the main signatory or arbitrator — the United Kingdom — being included as a neutral party.

He wondered whether the review or reinstatement of the two states would be binding, without any UK representation.

“This is not about a foreign country interfering in our country. The UK was privy to this MA63 agreement then,” said Snowdan.

He pointed out that the MA63 is an international treaty, binding over the remaining parties privy to it and they being Malaya, Sarawak & Sabah (North Borneo then). It was arbitrated by the United Kingdom, where the Queen had given assurance to the people of Sarawak and Sabah that their rights be protected when Malaysia was born.

“Besides Sarawak and Sabah, which are to be represented by their respective Chief Minister (CM) and other Members of Parliament and /or state attorneys in the committee, should there not be a neutral party in this committee instead of being chaired by a party that has committed the breaches?” he asked.

Snowdan said by looking at the structure and composition of the committee, eight are notably aligned to the federal Pakatan Harapan (PH), whereas Sabah and Sarawak have only two each — their respective CMs and state Attorney-Generals. The other four are the federal A-G, Chief Secretary to the Government, a University Malaya Law professor and Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Sarawak would have three if we are to include (Selangau MP and Works Minister) Baru Bian, but he is aligned to PH instead of GPS, which is the ruling government of Sarawak now,” he said.

Snowdan added that the same goes with Darell Leiking of Sabah.

“The real issue that the public insists and wishes to see here, especially Sarawakians, is that there being an equal representation ab initio (from the beginning),” he said.

Snowdan opined that idealistically, the situation would be for Sarawak to choose her own team who are well versed on the historical facts of the state.

“It is not for Putrajaya to dictate who represents Sarawak. Besides our CM and our State’s A-G, we also have our state legal adviser Datuk JC Fong, our Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah, Deputy State Legislative Speaker Dato Gerawat, Deputy Chief Minister and PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Masing representing the Dayak community and Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian representing the Chinese community as representatives.

“Sarawakians believe that their own team is able to present our interest in a holistic manner covering all aspects instead of on a piece-meal basis, which is a waste of time and delays.

“Prima facie, and if numbers is significant or takes priority, could there possibly be an equitable bargaining representation for Sabah and Sarawak here? Is it for this reason that Sarawak intends to expand the scope of the current committee?

“How could we trust PH to be impartial when it is a Malayan-based party that chaired the committee, yet the complainants are Sabah and Sarawak?” he asked.

Snowdan said earlier on, Sarawak had sent representatives to London for some library review on the MA63 Agreement and coupled with a very experienced state legal adviser, he could not pre-empt why they were not in the committee.

He said that it was of paramount importance too that the format be similar to the original Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) so that complainants’ representatives could interact and study the model similarly.

“As such, it is only right that the Sarawak government should expand the scope as that would enable the state representatives overseeing the discussion on the state’s autonomy to also serve the same role as the IGC then,” he opined.

Snowdan also reminded that retrospectively, discussions on MA63 had started during the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s and former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s time, but only to find it cut short by the GE14 result on May 9.

“Thus, it is not right for PH or Baru Bian to claim credit for this. Their job is only to fulfil and materialise what was discussed earlier. Perhaps, it is not wrong to say even their manifesto was riding on what the state government initiated earlier. It’s just a copycat,” he said.

Snowdan said the idea of having devolution of powers was also not the brainchild of Dr Mahathir nor PH. Instead, if not because of the late Adenan’s untiring efforts and insistence, Sarawak could have experienced greater “centralization” by Malaya by now.

“We are glad that the `feel good’ atmosphere had struck Sarawakians generally and that the present state’s government led by our CM Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg continues this legacy of fighting and demand for our autonomy and to seek reinstatement of our rights that had been eroded since 1976,” he said.

Snowdn added that it was wrong for Baru Bian to say that the PH government was doing what the previous government didn’t do.

“With due respect, merely taking credit for something you did not do is not due at all. All the groundwork were done during Tok Nan’s and Najib’s era,” he insisted. — DayakDaily