Sarawakians are eagerly awaiting the proposed announcement tomorrow by Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg on the return of Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 by the federal government.
“Sarawak needs those powers to get more funds and better ways to bring more development and progress for the people, not to create any problem with the federal government,” said political analyst Peter Minos.
Minos, who is chairperson of the Kota Samarahan Municipal Council, told Bernama today Sarawakians were pleased that at long last those lost rights would be back with the state.
With those powers back with the state, he said, real and true friendship would be established between Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.
Abang Johari had worked very hard in getting back the powers, Minos said, adding that this was mentioned and articulated clearly at the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) general assembly in Kuching last month.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, when opening the PBB general assembly, had pledged to return the eroded rights of Sarawak.
“There will be no feeling of any loss. I think and firmly believe that the exercise will make Malaysia better and greater because misunderstanding and mistrust will be gone,” said Minos, who is also the chairperson of the Bung Bratak Heritage Association.
He said that as Abang Johari had stated, Sarawak would remain a part of Malaysia forever. This was also stated by the late Adenan Satem who took up the MA63 issue in the first place when he was the chief minister.
“They are sincere on that and so are Sarawakians, who wholeheartedly support Abang Johari's move in getting back from the federal government what rightfully belongs to Sarawak.
“Just getting back what belongs to Sarawak and nothing more. People who say Sarawak is asking too much or pressuring Kuala Lumpur on the issue are missing the point.
“They take it all wrong. What is yours is yours and that is all to it. We in Sarawak are waiting eagerly for what chief minister will say or announce tomorrow,” Minos said.
Universiti Kolej Teknologi Sarawak (UCTS) vice-chancellor professor Khairuddin Abdul Hamid said tomorrow’s proposed announcement clearly demonstrated the sincerity of the federal government in wanting to assist Sarawak.
It was also a sincere initiative of both the federal and state governments which had worked together over the past several years and that the cooperation would not end with tomorrow’s announcement, he added.
Tomorrow’s announcement would most probably be on the several initiatives taken to return Sarawak’s rights under MA63 that had eroded.
“I believe this matter has come up not because of the approaching general election. Work on it had started long ago. It is not an affront but maybe there is awareness now,” he said.
Khairuddin said he did not think that the announcement would bring about any drastic change or transformation but could touch on the question of administration in terms of, for example, education which currently was closely linked to policies formulated in Putrajaya.
Political analyst Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) said the devolution of powers was possible because of the cordial relations between the federal and state governments.
“Many people in the state do not understand that the devolution of powers is a difficult process and takes time because it is a complex issue that involves national laws and relations between the federal and state governments,” he told Bernama.
The political opposition could attempt to politicise the matter because the proposed announcement was being made when the general election was approaching, he said, and expressed the hope that the opposition parties would refrain from doing that.
Jeniri said he felt that one of the rights to be returned to Sarawak would be that pertaining to petroleum and gas, which would bring increased income for the state and its people.
Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the return of the rights was in accordance with the open policy of Najib who saw the need for the openness for the further progress of Sarawak, as well as Sabah.