KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s attempt at discrediting the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto by training his guns on PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shows that his poor understanding of the workings of the PH coalition, said state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chairman Baru Bian.
Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, was commenting on Abang Johari’s recent statement that it would make no sense for Sarawakians to buy the opposition manifesto particularly given the fact Dr Mahathir did not do much for Sarawak during his 22-year tenure as prime minister from 1981.
According to Baru, the PH manifesto was formulated by a working committee and agreed upon by all four parties in PH, adding that it was not written by Dr Mahathir alone.
Looking at the national Barisan Nasional (BN) manifesto, Baru said it is farcical that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and BN should still have a manifesto full of promises.
“They have had so many years to deliver on their previous promises and should be campaigning on their track record but instead, BN’s main attraction is the promise of increased BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) and his throwing of cash baits such as the petrol allowances and BR1M to taxi drivers recently, while offering no explanations for the 1MDB and other corruption scandals nor preventive measures against further scandals.
“If Abang Jo questions our sincerity, we can also question the sincerity of Najib Razak in fulfilling all the promises in the BN manifesto. Take the promise to upgrade all dilapidated schools within five years. It seems we have heard this promise time and time again. The 2012 Education blueprint stated that by the end of 2013, critical repairs and upgrades would be completed across all 1,608 dilapidated schools starting with those in Sabah and Sarawak.
“It is now 2018 and many of our rural students are still attending classes in dilapidated schools. Promises of allocations of billions have been made by the BN government repeatedly in the past few years but even Abang Johari got tired of their promises and sought permission from Najib to use our own state funds to repair our dilapidated schools,” Baru said in a press statement yesterday.
As for the Sarawak BN manifesto, Baru wondered why Sarawak BN had to come up with a supplementary manifesto as Sarawak is not having a state election, unlike the other states.
“Is it because Abang Jo and the Sarawak BN were unable to get our Sarawak rights acknowledged sufficiently in the national BN manifesto? It is telling that the only mention of our rights in the national BN manifesto is a one liner: The rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will be realised by consensus. ‘By consensus’ implies discussion and negotiation.
“In contrast, the national PH manifesto dedicates nine wide-ranging promises to the people of Sabah and Sarawak under one of its 5 pillars with the heading ‘Return Sabah and Sarawak to the status accorded in the Malaysia Agreement 1963’. No negotiation and consensus needed – the national PH leaders have acknowledged and agreed to respect our rights, and have made promises to uplift the lives of our people.”
Because of Sarawak’s status as a fixed deposit of BN, Baru said the State BN government is unable to make any real demands from the BN federal government on the issue of the state’s rights.
In citing an example, he said the State Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution in 2014 to request for a 20 per cent oil and gas royalties but it was completely ignored by the federal government.
“In national BN manifesto, Sarawak and Sabah get only a few mentions. This goes to show that to Umno, Sarawak is still the fixed deposit requiring very little in returns. Another example – the matter of NCR (native customary rights) is of paramount importance to Sarawakians but the only offer from BN is to assist in surveying customary land with no mention about recognising such rights.
“In contrast, a PH government will ensure the return and guarantee the right of customary land of the people of Sabah and Sarawak and will take other measures outlined in their promises to ensure such rights are respected.”
Baru said: “If Abang Jo wants to bring up the past, we can also ask how hard and how much BN Sarawak had fought for our rights in those 22 years under Dr Mahathir. There was not a squeak from the then Chief Minister of Sarawak or from any of his BN ministers, and it was not until the opposition won a stronger voice that the Sarawak BN decided to adopt the fight for our rights to be respected.”
“If all they can say is they question our sincerity to fulfil the promises, we invite them to join us in defeating Najib and Umno, and we will show them our sincerity. PH has not had the chance to form the federal government but the track record of the Penang and Selangor governments should be a positive indicator of good governance and efficient administration. A PH government can change Malaysia for the better.”