KUCHING: Pakatan Harapan (PH) is offering a ‘New Deal Agreement’ to state Barisan Nasional (BN) for greater autonomy and devolution of power to Sarawak.
Its Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the agreement was to be inked between PH and BN Sarawak in the event that the opposition won the 14th general election (GE14) and became the next federal government.
He pointed out that this is made necessary because even if PH forms the next federal government Sarawak will continue to be under state BN, considering that for the state GE14 is about parliamentary elections and not state election.
“This agreement is our offer to Sarawak – that if PH is elected as the next federal government, we will devolve certain powers to the state including taxation, education, healthcare and others. In order for us to devolve power to the state, the state must agree to accept it,” he told a press conference after chairing a state PH committee meeting at the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak headquarters here yesterday.
Chong, who is state DAP chairman, said the state PH expected Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is BN Sarawak chairman and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) chairman, to sign the agreement.
He said presidents of other BN Sarawak component parties; namely Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) were also expected to sign.
“This is to indicate that they all agree to the acceptance of devolution of powers by us at the federal government,” added Chong.
He said the state PH secretariat will schedule an appointment with the Chief Minister’s Office so that PH Sarawak leaders can personally bring the agreement to the leaders of state BN for signing. The PH Sarawak leaders he referred to are Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak chairman Baru Bian and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) Sarawak chairman Fidzuan Zaidi.
“To me, I see no reason for Sarawak BN to refuse signing this agreement if they truly believe in devolution of power,” asserted Chong.
He said the agreement had to be sealed before the GE14 takes place, adding: “He (Abang Johari) can sign it and keep it there until GE14.”
To this, Baru was quick to point out: “He (Abang Johari) has nothing to lose.”
The five-page agreement encompasses two major categories namely ‘The Restoration of Territorial Integrity’ and ‘Devolution of Powers’.
Among the items outlined under ‘The Restoration of Territorial Integrity’ are that PH shall honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and that a Royal Commission shall be formed to restore Sarawak’s rights.
The ‘Devolution of Powers’ category includes trade and commerce, fiscal decentralisation: taxation and public revenues, Borneonisation of the civil service and a competent Sarawak, sport, education, health, social security, civil infrastructure development, natural resources (oil and gas) and tourism.
On taxation, PH pledges to let Sarawak retain 50 per cent of all tax revenues collected in Sarawak while Sarawak will receive 20 per cent of oil and gas royalties or equivalent value from the federal government.