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20-point agreement not adhered to

We heard so much about the 20-point agreement when Sarawak and Sabah decided to form Malaysia together with Malaya. The three countries agreed upon a certain agreement, known as the 20-point agreement to provide meaningful autonomy for Sarawak and Sabah.

This 20-point agreement is fundamental for the ‘relationship and the preservation of pertinent rights for Sarawak and Sabah’. Somehow, after 45 years, the federal government started to ignore the agreement and even changed the ‘rules’ without the consent of Sarawak and Sabah.

The net result is the unhappiness and dissatisfaction of the people of Sarawak and Sabah as they felt ‘colonised’ and ‘marginalised’ by Barisan Nasional lead by Umno. Sarawak and Sabah have delivered on their part but for reasons best known to them, Malaysia is not keeping to the agreement.

The salient points of the agreement are highlighted below and interjected with my comments observed from current scenario and experience.

Point 1: Religion

While there is no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia, there should be no state religion in Sarawak and the provisions relating to Islam in the present constitution of Malaya should not apply to Sarawak.

The state BN governments took upon themselves to pursue an Islamisation programme without sensitivity to the spirit of the agreement with regards to Christianity and other religions. It comes to a point that the Islamisation initiative gives the impression that Islam is the official religion of Sarawak.

This is getting the attention of non- Muslim bumiputera who observe the unequal approach in emphasising the role of Islam in a state where Islam is not the state religion.

As Islam is not the state religion, why do those in power insist that the governor of Sarawak must be a Muslim? It need not be.

Point 2: Language

a. Malay should be the national language of the federation

b. English should continue to be used for a period of 10 years after Malaysia Day

c. English should be an official language of Sarawak for all purposes, state or federal, without limitation of time.

However, federal officers based in Sarawak insist that all communication to their offices must be made using Bahasa Malaysia.

The education department insists that all students must pass the Bahasa Malaysia subject in the SPM examination in order to qualify for tertiary education.

All these are in order in Malaya, but for Sarawak, the department should be sensitive to the 20-point agreement. The zeal for national integration must be there but it must be implemented with due respect to the agreement.

Point 6: Immigration

Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the central government but entry into Sarawak should also require the approval of the state government. The federal fovernment should not be able to veto the entry of persons into Sarawak for state government purposes except on strictly security grounds.

Sarawak should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in federal government employ from other parts of Malaysia into Sarawak.

Point 11: Tariffs and finance

Sarawak should retain control of its own finances and tariffs and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.

Point 12: Special position of indigenous races

In principle, the indigenous races of Sarawak should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by the Malays in Malaya, but the present Malays' formula in this regard is not necessarily applicable in Sarawak.

Many West Malaysian thought that the Dayaks from Sarawak are not bumiputera. They would always raise an issue if a non-Muslim bumiputera from Sarawak bought property from under the bumi quota.

The banks are no better. That shows part of the content of a certain subject taught in school is misleading or missed out on purpose by the course designer.

Point 15: Education

The existing education system of Sarawak should be maintained and for this reason, it should be under state control. But the budget for education is controlled by the federal government. In the Ninth Malaysia Plan, a total of RM3 billion has been allocated to upgrade and build new schools.

Even the contracts to carry out school building repairs and construction are controlled by the federal government. Headmasters in mission schools are replaced by Muslim headmasters in some instances. This should not happen in Sarawak.

Point 17: Representation in Parliament

This should take into account not only the population of Sarawak but also of its size and potential.

Sarawak delivered 30 parliament seats to the BN and in spite of this, the response to Sarawak’s request for more ministerial position fells onto the deaf ears of the prime minister.

In response, the federal government granted RM1 billion for Sarawak’s development to be managed by the PM’s Department.

Was this RM1 billion allocation given in the spirit of actually helping or it just a corrupt way of ‘buying’ the people’s support? BN is very good at vote-buying.

Point 20: Land, forests, local government, etc.

The provisions in the federal constitution in respect of the powers of the National Land Council should not apply to Sarawak. Likewise, the National Council for Local Government.

Why nationalise oil and gas resources? Why choose to give the state only a 5 percent royalty? Several requests for an increase in royalty to 20 percent were unheeded.

This is the kind of mistakes BN makes and they will lose out on the Dayak vote.

The PM wanted to make Sarawak Malaysia's rice bowl but hopefully the investors do not come into Sarawak and take away the property titles to the land.

The investors need not own the land. They should just pay rental to the government, employ local workers and create a sustainable environment for their projects. Give out the contracts to local Sarawakians and train them up.

I leave it to the readers in Sarawak to do a mental review of what has happened to Sarawak and whether the 20-point agreement has been upheld by federal government.