Letter to the Editor
THIS Sept 16, Sarawak will be celebrating its 55th year in the Federation of Malaysia. The state should have learned a lot of lessons after all these years.
Sadly though, there seems to be no end in sight yet with respect to the restoration of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to its original state; nor is the recognisance of Sarawak as Malaya’s equal partner.
Our past leader — the late Tun Jugah — was so worried that Malaya might not honour the MA63 that he said, “Anang baka tebu, manis ba pon tang tabar ba ujung.” Loosely translated, it means “Do not be like the sugar cane, sweet at the beginning but tasteless at the end”. Indeed his concern has become reality today.
There are probably many Sarawakians, too, who feel that the state has been short-changed, betrayed and taken for a ride all these years due to Malaya’s insincerity.
The rude awakenings, no doubt, will come true one day. Sarawakians will realise the importance of the MA63 and the adverse consequences they might be facing in the near future. This can happen if Sarawak leaders continue to tolerate the federal government’s apathetic attitude.
It should be noted too that over the years, there has always been a lack of urgency by the federal government to address the MA63 issue. And the irony is that despite the snail-paced progress, Sarawak leaders remained accommodating and displayed no sense of urgency to reclaim the state’s rights.
MA63 is a non-negotiable agreement: its purpose is to safeguard Sarawak’s rights. This agreement is also used as the basis for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Hence the continuous nonconformity by Malaya with respect to the MA63 means it has also failed to honour the agreement that was laid out to give birth to the nation.
As the MA63 has been repeatedly raped by the federal government, Sarawak, by right, should have no more ‘contractual obligations’ to remain where it is today. There should not be any obstacles if the state chose to reposition its political journey from here onwards.
In fact, since Malaya failed to adhere to the basic terms and conditions that are clearly spelt out in the MA63, there is now nothing that binds Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya contractually.
Sarawak’s priority now should be to focus more on the governance and compliance with the MA63.
It is an open secret that Sarawak has played its part of the deal obediently for the last 55 years. The reluctance of Malaya to recognise Sarawak as an equal partner is indeed an explicit testimony that the former merely wanted to play the role of “Big Brother”.
This is one of the many trust deficits accumulated by Malaya since Day 1. The federal government might have concocted this plan since the very beginning in order to force Sarawak to remain a subservient state: that is why Sarawak has to beg for bigger allocations for infrastructure development year in, year out.
Did Malaya purposely planned for the state to remain a follower, rather than a leader, with respect to infrastructure development? Fifty-five years is indeed way too long for the Sarawak leadership to dance to Malaya’s tune unconditionally and with undivided loyalty.
It’s about time the state leadership face the reality that its diplomacy approach in dealing with Putrajaya is flawed. Why does the state have to swallow its pride and tolerate Malaya’s arrogant attitude when the Land of the Hornbills is supposed to be an equal partner in the federation?
Lest we forget, Malaya has been trying to take over the state for years. Sarawak is their “last frontier”. Sabah fell into their hands many years ago, and Sabahans now rue the day it happened. Our neighbour has indeed learned very costly lessons over this development.
Therefore, Sarawak must change its political bearings when dealing with Malaya because Malaya knows very well that the state is a land with endless opportunities. The state leadership really must steer Sarawak away from the Malayans’ big appetite. They are forever hungry for the state’s abundant wealth, especially the oil and gas resources.
Just imagine the catastrophe the state will suffer if the Malayans are able to set foot in the state, politically. Even now, when they have yet to set up base here, they have been able to inflict pain by being blind to the MA63, the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA), the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), etc.
The process of undoing what Malaya has done so far, and what it can potentially do in the near future to Sarawak, may take more than 15 years, unlike in Sabah. This is because by now the Malayans should have already learned their lessons from their Sabah experience.
Has anyone ever wondered why “whistleblowers” seemed to shy away from exposing what Malaya has done to Sarawak?
All that Sarawakians want is for their birthplace to be at least on par with the peninsula. Its current pace is too slow because it is, in a large part, dictated by “Big Brother” across the South China Sea. To play catch-up, the state must have a good recovery plan to expedite growth in the coming years.
It is really pathetic that Sarawak is lagging behind most states in terms of infrastructure even though it is rich in oil and gas. In addition, most of these much better-developed states do not even have valuable natural resources, like oil and gas.
Sarawak needs a transformation plan to catapult the state towards its 2030 target. It can no longer blindly dance to the “follow along” tune that is played by the political masters in Malaya.
To quote Roy T Bennett, “To have what you never had, you have to do what you have never done.”
By Ingkas Timur
A reader of DayakDaily
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.