KUCHING: Yayasan 1Malaysia board of trustees chairman Dr Chandra Muzaffar believes Sarawak and Sabah should have a larger say on the utilisation of their respective resources.
He said Sarawak and Sabah, which are rich in oil and gas reserves, deserve more benefits from the resources.
“I personally believe that if you want the nation to succeed, the states or entities which have the resources, for example oil and gas, should have the largest say of the utilisation of the resources.
“This is something that every federation has to observe and in the case of Sarawak and Sabah, it is the oil and gas,” he said at a public talk – ‘Good Governance in a Multi-Ethnic Federation’ – at the State Library here yesterday.
The talk was hosted by the Institute of Management of Sarawak (Masa).
Chandra believed that one of the major challenges that Malaysia is facing as a federation, now and in the future, is the control over resources.
He also said the people of Sabah and Sarawak should not be debating on the royalty percentage for their oil and gas, but rather on how the resources that are extracted from Sabah and Sarawak can give maximum benefits to the two states and their people.
Chandra, who is also president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), said another challenge that Malaysia is facing as a federation is race disparity across both public service and private sector.
He said ethnicity in recruitment must be reduced if Malaysia is to maintain its success as a federation.
He noted that recruitment based on ethnicity is still very common in both public and private sectors in Malaysia, saying if the disparity in recruitment is not reduced, it would cause unhappiness among certain ethnic groups.
“For a multi-ethnic federation like Malaysia to be successful in the future, recruitment should be made based on ability, performance and promotion.
“This is another serious challenge that we are facing in promoting good governance in a multi-ethnic federation,” he said.
However, Chandra said Malaysia had done fairly well compared to other federations in the world.
He recalled that the biggest setback was in 1965 was when Singapore left the federation.
“I said we have fairly succeeded as a federation because there are already certain degrees of economic growth in the various states, some reduction in poverty while certain rights of Sabah and Sarawak are still being recognised.
“The two states still have control over their immigration matters, which for some people in Peninsular Malaysia is something that is very odd.
He believed that the rights over immigration were given to Sarawak and Sabah for good reason so that the two states would not be overwhelmed by the people from Peninsular Malaysia in terms employment and mobility.
Chandra said another major challenge that Malaysia is facing as a federation is integrity, lamenting that there was a decline of integrity in society today – from the top level down to the grassroots.
“(Declining) Integrity is a very serious issue, which we cannot afford to just sweep under the carpet.
“We all have a duty to play in restoring high integrity among our society for a better living and for the future of the federation.”