by Karen Bong
KUCHING, Oct 23: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Youth chief Micheal Tiang has demanded Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen stop beating around the bush and speak clearly as to whose side he is he on when it comes to crucial issues concerning Sarawak.
“I am happy to hear Chong reminding us that DAP is in the federal government and not Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS); telling us he holds the microphone to sing, and no one else can sing, so if he can sing, he must sing,” Tiang said at a press conference here today, retorting at Chong’s comment.
Tiang said he felt uneasy as DAP Sarawak and especially Chong and other Sarawakian colleagues have been ‘too quiet’ especially about their stand over Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s proposal in adopting the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) model in the review and implementation of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Are they prepared to bring this issue up to the federal cabinet and show support for the Chief Minister’s proposal and stand up for Sarawak so as to ensure Sarawak has equal position in the matter?” he asked.
“This is not about politics but about Sarawak which must come first before politics,” he added.
Tiang reiterated that Abang Johari was right when he proposed the use of the IGC model in the discussion about MA63 because it was the basis which Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) used in building the foundation of a new nation called Malaysia.
“IGC is very important, as in 1962, we incorporated all Sarawak’s special rights, privileges and position into the Federal Constitution before we formed Malaysia. It is through IGC, and not a special committee which the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is proposing today,” he said.
“We shouldn’t forget this. Sarawak has to go into the committee to fight for special rights including for native people, land, natural minerals, forests, immigration, to name a few,” he said, highlighting the reason as to why a fair Sarawak representation in the newly formed steering committee to restore rights as contained in MA63 was essential.
Sarawakians, he said, have made themselves very clear in that they want the Sarawak government as their representative, not federal-related representatives or their ministers.
However, Tiang pointed out that the whole steering committee which has 16 members was dominated by federal representatives as there were only two non-Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives from Sarawak — the Chief Minister and the State Attorney-General.
“We are talking about Sarawak’s rights but we are outnumbered, surrounded by 14 other members. This is not on equal footing but the whole thing dominated by federal,” he added.
It should be noted that Works Minister Baru Bian was also named to the steering committee, making him the third Sarawakian on it.
Meanwhile, on infrastructure, Tiang urged Chong to stop throwing the ball back to the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government which started the Pan Borneo Highway project but instead disclose if he has fought for any projects and investments for Sarawak.
On education and public health matters which the PH government has promised to return autonomy to Sarawak, he also asked Chong if he has done his part with the authority that he has in pursuing this matter with the federal cabinet.
Tiang said that during the recent Lan Berambeh event held in Kuala Lumpur, young Sarawakians expressed their frustrations that they knew too little about Sarawak’s history as it was not taught in school textbooks while their friends from the peninsula did not even know about Sarawak.
Furthermore, he also noted that they have also questioned why schools in rural Sarawak were in a dilapidated state when the state government often boasted about their wealth and oil and gas, because they did not know education fell under the federal list.
“Sarawak government is ready to take back these two rights. And we are still waiting since PH came into power for 160 days now. But unfortunately, we haven’t heard of any Sarawak-centric policy introduced yet,” Tiang said.
“We are not asking for an overnight miracle or magic from the PH government. Sarawakians are reasonable and patient. We just need Chong and his colleagues to tell us how much time do they need to fulfill Sarawak’s demand,” he emphasised.
Tiang thus urged Chong to stop starting fires whenever he returned home but instead, bring more ‘fruits’ to benefit Sarawakians so the people have job opportunities and means to put food on the table.
“Don’t come and tell us nonsense like oil royalty becomes oil profit or deny the promises for Sarawak in the PH manifesto. Sarawakians cannot accept that kind of baloney,” he concluded. — DayakDaily