KOTA KINABALU: Parliamentary opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seems to have shifted his position on issues affecting Sabah and Sarawak since the 13th general election, APS president Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Bumburing said.
“I am of the opinion that the people of Sarawak, and for that matter, the people of Sabah, would disagree with Anwar for saying that Sarawak is not a good example of an autonomous state in Malaysia,” the Tamparuli assemblyman said.
Bumburing added Anwar had based his analysis on the issue of poverty and corruption in the government to come to a conclusion that being autonomous, Sarawak had lagged behind the rest of the states in the country.
If that is what Anwar considered as the underlying reason for his analysis on Sarawak being still less developed compared to the other States, then why are the people of Sabah still poor today after basically losing her autonomy? he asked.
“I believe that Sarawakians still cherish the fact that, by and large, their autonomy as provided for and written in the Malaysian agreement had continued to be intact and preserved and they are ever ready to protect and defend their rights,” he noted in a statement yesterday.
According to Bumburing, Sarawak may be poor in a sense, but it is not because of them being an autonomous State. He added that Kelantan enjoys full autonomy and yet they are considered poor.
Anwar’s view on the issue of the autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak gave the impression that the people of Sabah and Sarawak may not be enjoying any sympathetic ears, even from a Pakatan Rakyat government, he opined.
“Anwar also avoided explaining the issue of the Malaysian Agreement, which stipulates an equal partnership between Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya, each time he is asked or confronted on the issue.
“He also did not say outright whether he supports the call by Sabahans and Sarawakians for a review of the Malaysian Agreement, which should have been done 40 years ago, but only briefly said that the unhappiness of the people had to be addressed,” he said.
Bumburing added that the ultimate reason behind the unhappiness of the people of Sabah and Sarawak is that the spirit of the Malaysian agreement had not been respected. On the issue of National Day, September 16th should be celebrated as the National Day because Malaysia only became a nation on that day and not August 31st. History cannot be changed.
The whole nation should celebrate this day and not merely declare it as a public holiday. Every year only Sabah and Sarawak celebrate September 16th while there are no celebrations nationwide. What is Pakatan’s stand on this? he asked.
According to Bumburing, Anwar also appeared to have shifted his stand on the illegal immigrant issue.
“During the election campaigning trail in Sabah he agreed on my point that many citizenships were given unlawfully to illegal immigrants in Sabah and he expressly said during most of his ceramahs that this has to be resolved,” he said.
“When he was called to testify during the RCI hearing, his tone was different. And now, he is talking about international norms and practices. My stand is that most countries do have migrant population, including Malaysia, but these are migrants who come into the country legally, except those displaced refugees.
“These legal migrants, after legally staying for so many years, can apply for permanent stay or citizenship via the normal process. However in the case of Sabah, Malaysian ICs were deliberately issued and given to illegal immigrants like ‘pisang goreng’ on the street. This is proven in the evidence adduced during the RCI hearings. It seems that now the government has put the whole RCI hearing and reports on the back burner.
“I have said in Parliament that the action by the government in giving away citizenship to foreigners is like inviting outsiders into our house and giving them a knife. The Tanduo intrusion can never be less than a stark reminder of what might happen in the future.
The government should not be unduly jittery on the so-called Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) group.
“I have said in the State Assembly sitting recently that the SSKM is likened to that of a son who was neglected by the father on his request for certain necessities for so long. After enduring a deaf ear from the father, he threatens to run away from home, raising red flag to the father to draw his attention. The real demand from the people is a review of the Malaysian agreement,” he stressed.
The government, he feels, should partake a positive approach by calling for dialogue and listening to the underlying issues instead of waging threats of arrest under the Sedition Act.
“Once again, I would like to remind the government that the real threat to national unity and integrity is the presence of huge numbers of immigrants in Sabah, many of whom were given ICs for short-term political expediency of those in power. The risk of a reverse takeover in Sabah is more than just a possibility in the future if the government does not take corrective step today,” he stressed.
On the arrest of nine people in Tuaran under the Sedition Act, Bumburing called on the government to relook their policy towards Sabah as a sovereign State within Malaysia.
As earlier said, the call by Sabahans for a review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) has reached a pivotal point where the Federal Government must look into what short-changes they have made on Sabah in as far as State’s right is concerned as provided for under the MA63.
“These call for equality, for restoration of indigenous rights, which is clearly defined in the MA63, must not be construed as secession plot. It is not too late to call for a meeting among all the stakeholders and have a relook into the MA63 to rectify any wrongs that have been done,” he pointed out.