KUCHING, 14 November 2018 (SNN) – IN HIS WINDING-UP SPEECH THE Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Hj. Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Abang Openg, restated, “We are happy to be in Malaysia …” The Chief Minister who is popularly known as Abang Johari delivered his winding-up speech in the last day of Dewan Undangan Negeri sitting today, 14 November 2018. In the 75-minutes speech he spent most of his time dwelling on the demand for autonomy and self-government of Sarawak from the Federal Government in Putra Jaya now under the new Pakatan Harapan.
Promised of Self-Government
In the speech, Abang Johari straight away touched on the state’s demand for autonomy and self-government. While the demand for autonomy has been the core issue for several years now but the inclusion of self-goverment was something new. He reminded the august house that the first Chief Minister, Dato Stephen Kalong Ningkan, in the Malaysia Declaration said that the Brooke Dynasty had promised self-government that was upheld by the British colonial government when it took over Sarawak in 1946, immediately after the Second World War. It was while under the British rule that Sarawak, a Crown Colony, was ushered to form Malaysia in 1963 when the promised self-government would finally be fulfilled. His fathter, Tun Abang Openg was one of the signatories of the Malaysia Agreement.
Political and Administrative Sabotages
Abang Johari said that after 42 years in Malaysia, Sarawak gradually lost her autonomy and deprived of the wealth from its oil and gas. The disparity in development between Sarawak and the Peninsula Malaysia was so glaring today that now led to serious grievance in the state. Abang Johari said that the national policy now is Putrajaya-centric or KL-centric before, that the Federal Government “can pass laws which eroded the powers and rights of the state. The Federal Goverment has failed us in the delivery of services in basic infrastructures, education and public amenities.” Sarawak had suffered form political and administrative sabotages, he said. Sarawak would strongly defend and protect its rights, he continued making claims.
Happy in Malaysia
However, after the strogly-worded arguments in demanding autonomy and self-goverment, Abang Johari after 20 minutes offered an olive branch. He said, “I wish to reiteriate here, that in seeking autonomy Sarawak is not seeking to leave Malaysia. Sarawak will continue co-exist and co-operate with Malaya and Sabah under the umbrella of Malaysia. We are happy to be in Malaysia. What we are not happy about is the nature of our current relationship which we feel has deviated from the original spirit of the agreement to form Malaysia as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“I wish to reiteriate here that in seeking autonomy Sarawak is not seeking to leave Malaysia.”
This brought relief to many people from both sides of the sea who have families and friends. The olive branch from Sarawak should be reciprocated by the PH Federal Government. In a federal system conflicts are not unknown and solutions are also available.