KUCHING: Sarawakians are appealing to the federal government, helmed by Pakatan Harapan (PH) for the first time after 50 years, to be reasonable and considerate towards the needs of their state.
The new Malaysia that they want is a great and wonderful nation on top of being a peaceful and stable place for citizens to live in.
“As a Malaysian from Sarawak, I must honestly say that, if only the federal government under PH and Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad are reasonable and considerate to Sarawak and treat it fairly and justly, Malaysia would truly be a great and wonderful nation,” said political observer Dato Peter Minos.
“It is peaceful. It is generally stable. It is one of the advanced and more economically successful countries in the developing world. This is notwithstanding the fact that the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government under former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had almost ruined Malaysia financially by allegedly abusing powers and engaging in many wrongdoings.”
He said Malaysians are now looking forward for the PH federal government to pick up the pieces, clean the financial mess and make Malaysia up and running again.
“As well, Malaysians want PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, an exceptionally intelligent and capable leader, to make Malaysia great again economically speaking, as he once did. I can recall when he made Malaysia one of the economically roaring Asian Tigers in the 1980s.
“Even if you do not like him for whatever reason, you must give the credit due to him and salute and respect him for that,” Minos said.
However, now it is Dr Mahathir’s current treatment of Sarawak that is of real concern to Sarawakians, added Minos.
“He seems not keen to get Petronas to pay the 20 per cent royalty on Sarawak’s oil and gas based on production, the globally-accepted way as internationally practised. Instead, he suggested royalty payment based on ‘profit’. This has not sunk well with Sarawakians because if Petronas applies creative but legal accounting and ends with minimal or zero/negative profit, then Sarawak will get little or nothing from Petronas,” he said.
Also, Sarawak has repeatedly been demanding all its powers as contained in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to be returned soonest.
“I mean those powers that the federal government has been taking over or usurping, deliberately or otherwise, since 1963. Sarawakians are not at all pleased for the delay. They are not in the mood for waiting and waiting,” he stressed.
Minos believes that the patience for waiting is itching to a snapping point.
“I can feel and see it. Sarawakians just want the federal government to answer and respond soonest on the MA63 powers and on the oil and gas issues. Period. Sarawak badly and urgently needs the oil and gas money for further progress and development and for it to catch up with states in the Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
“I repeat, Malaysia is a great and wonderful country despite everything, if not for the two issues mentioned above,” said Minos when asked to provide his take on Malaysia Day under the PH government.
Meanwhile, Saya Anak Sarawak (SAS) leader Peter John Jaban said Malaysia has seen a great leap forward on May 9 – the day PH took over the federal government from the BN after winning the 14th parliamentary election.
“We have a new federal government that is promising greater recognition of Sabah and Sarawak, an end to marginalisation, a cleaner and more responsive government. They must deliver on these promises, not just for West Malaysia but also for the Borneo territories,” said Peter John.
“Sarawakians are not asking to have more than their fair share but they are asking for the benefits of Malaysia that they signed up to and have yet to receive. West Malaysia has benefited hugely from the oil revenues brought by the Borneo states and Sarawakians are asking only that the formation of Malaysia should not leave them worse off, not just than they would have been but also worse off than the other members of the nation,” he said.
“Therefore, both sides must come to this negotiation, not as a federal and a state government but as the representatives of partners in our nation to bring the Federal Constitution in line with MA63,” he insisted.
Peter John then called upon the federal government to review Malaysian history.
“School History books should be written according to the facts. History cannot be rewritten but its lessons must be analysed through the lens of modern day Malaysia.
“All of our children need to learn about the circumstances of the formation of their nation so that there can be proper respect and understanding for the position of the Borneo states within Malaysia,” Peter John emphasised.
MA63, he said, was never fully implemented in the first place and its spirit has never come to full fruition.
“Many concerns voiced at the time by those who negotiated the agreement have become a reality – economic disparity, diversion of oil and other revenues, lack of development and economic opportunities, a civil service dominated by West Malaysians, an education system biased towards West Malaysian history and culture, a failure to respect and preserve the unique society and culture of the Borneo states,” he said.
“The two sides must decide mutually what needs to be done to enact the spirit of the agreement, whether it is increasing degrees of autonomy, increased investment in Sabah and Sarawak, or even greater consultation with and empowerment of local representatives,” he suggested.
“The past cannot be undone and so in some cases, extra measures not anticipated in the agreement will need to be put in place to make up for some of the neglect, for example in education, healthcare and cultural appreciation. Malaysia has become increasingly centralised and it is time for some devolution in decision making coupled with long neglected capacity building.
“Both sides must fully commit to a shared end goal – the full restitution of Sabah and Sarawak’s rights and position under MA63,” he stressed.