Monday, August 26

Sarawak: Political reform and autonomy


Thomas Ong (Borneo Post, Oct 4, ‘Road to Reform, Autonomy and Fashion or Political Statement’ ) made some interesting observations on political reforms and autonomy for Sarawak. He also made an acute reference to politics of promises made by federal leaders for the last 52 years.

His insight on the formation of  Malaysia is a useful lesson for our younger generation. Indeed, he rightly pointed out that Malaysia was jointly formed by four sovereign and independent countries, namely Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) on 16th September 1963.

Singapore, unfortunately after only two years in the union of Malaysia, was expelled from Malaysia on 9th August 1965. The expulsion of Singapore is an interesting historical event in the history of Malaysia. It sets a precedent that the union of Malaysia is not an indissoluble union as many political commentators appear to claim.

Malaysia most importantly was founded on the principle of equality i.e. on equal terms, not that of master and servant relationship. Hence, for all intents and purposes each member of the union must be treated equitably, equally and given equal benefits. Unfortunately, for the last 52 years Sarawak has not been treated equally and equitably. It has to beg for financial aids and/or development grants.

As an equal partner and based on the equal partnership principle Sarawak should pursue diligently and vigorously for 33% of financial allocation in the annual budget. This is not a wishful dream but a fight for the right as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement.

The other important issue is: the ‘Borneonisation’ of the federal civil service in Sarawak.  The understanding was that after a period of time federal civil service in Sarawak should be headed and staffed by Sarawakians. It would appear the federal leaderships have conveniently renegade on this matter.

It is indeed very compelling to conclude and have an over view that the S4S slogan i.e. Sarawak for Sarawakians  is appropriate and relevant in the context of current political climate.

It expresses people’s discontent, dissatisfaction, disillusion and a sense of alienation with the economic, social and political developments in the country where one political party is trying to claim its supremacy in the government of the country.

The fact that Sarawak has been deprived of an equitable financial allocation in the last 52 years speaks volume of unfair policies and treatment by the central government.

It is little wonder that some Sarawakians are now questioning the wisdom of being in the union of Malaysia especially when it is being treated as a step son; it has to beg  for financial aids and/or development grants. This practice has been going on for the last 52 years and, finally, at long last the fund for the construction of Borneo Highway have just been approved this year.

We ought to celebrate that after 52 years Sarawak has succeeded to build one highway in the state. Great!


Sylvester Ajah Subah