KUCHING, July 2: It is high time for Sarawak to be politically independent in order to stand up for its rights and pursue its development priorities.
Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised this in his speech when officiating at a Gawai-Raya dinner at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur last night. The dinner was attended by roughly 700 members of Sarawak’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in the Klang Valley.
The NGOs included Hikmah, Federal Territory Branch, Song Kapit Welfare Association, Dayak Transformation Association (Trada), Pasar Borneo Sri Kembangan Traders Association, Sarawak Diaspora Network Association, Borneo Semenanjung Association and Serian Foundation Kuala Lumpur Branch.
Abang Johari emphasised that Sarawak could not be subservient to “big brother” anymore in deciding its development direction as the state would always lose out because of the need to make decisions based on consensus.
“This is the reason we left BN (Barisan Sarawak) and decided to be on our own. Its time for Sarawak to stand on its own feet and decide its priorities based on its needs,” he said.
Abang Johari expressed his belief that so far, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government had managed Sarawak well and the recent decision by the federal government to work with his administration through a joint committee to ensure effective implementation of projects was a testimony of Sarawak’s ability to administer itself.
He said Sarawak’s priority was to develop its infrastructure, physical and cyber, to enhance its connectivity and to spread out development state-wide, particularly in the interior areas.
Out of the record budget of RM11 billion for 2019, he reiterated that RM7 billion was allocated for implementation of infrastructure and economic projects in the rural areas.
Implementation of the coastal highway and the setting up of agencies under Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda), namely the Upper Rejang Development Agency (URDA), the Highland Development Agency (HDA) and the Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA), were part of an overall effort to enhance Sarawak’s connectivity and economic status, he said.
“Even though the federal government is under PH (Pakatan Harapan) and Sarawak under GPS, we are working together, and we form a joint committee to monitor federal projects implementation in Sarawak under the joint chair of the Minister of Works Baru Bian and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
“Thus, they (federal government) have to take into consideration our priorities,” he pointed out.
On the development of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) negotiations, he described the progress as going on well.
He said Sarawak had insisted that “pursuant to MA63” be inserted in the recent attempt to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to ensure that Sarawak would not lose its rights.
He said Article 60 defined the states of the federation as being the states established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 and thus might make MA63 irrelevant in the court of law.
Member of Parliament for Kapit Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi and Member of Parliament for Petra Jaya Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who co-chaired the organising committee, also spoke.
Also present were Abang Johari’s wife, Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang and Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talip Zulpilip and members of Parliament from GPS. — DayakDaily