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Monday, October 17, 2016

Sarawak local-based parties' MPs mull reclaiming State Rights

KUCHING - Sarawak MPs may propose in Parliament to reinstate an article of the Federal Constitution to enable the state to regain powers that had eroded over the years.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said before the amendment in 1976, Sarawak and Sabah fell under a category that was different from peninsula states.

“Before that (the amendment in 1976), it says the states of Malaysia shall be (a) the states of West Malaysia, (b) Sarawak and Sabah, and (c) Singapore. Of course, Singapore no more lah.

“Now there is only one category,” he said when met by journalists after closing a seminar on the history of Sarawak here yesterday.

Asked whether Sarawak and Sabah were considered partners of Malaysia prior to the amendment in 1976, Adenan replied, “I mean that is what it means. You see, it is a different category.”

However, he was quick to add: “No, partners by virtue of the Malaysia Agreement. The agreement was between Malaya, Sabah (then North Borneo), Sarawak, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, of course. And when you are parties to an agreement, you are equal.”

When asked if Sarawak MPs would propose an amendment to that particular article of the Federal Constitution, he replied: “If that is necessary.”

He said the state was still negotiating with the federal government. When pressed for further information on the negotiation, he said, “I mean to go back to the original IGC (Inter-Governmental Committee Report), Malaysia Agreement, and all that.”

“The other point is that the Malaysia Agreement cannot be changed, even by amending the (Federal) Constitution,” he stressed, adding it is because the agreement “is an international treaty registered with the United Nations.”

Asked if Malaysia broke any international law if it did not follow the Malaysia Agreement signed in 1963, he replied “Yes, Yes.”

“It does not mean we leave Malaysia, no. We are asserting our rights as per agreement way back in 1963. Since then, there had been an erosion of those powers, and we want them back.” He added that the federal government had been sympathetic and wanted to know more. “Don’t say I want Sarawak to leave Malaysia; nothing to do with that.”

On the formation of Malaysia, Adenan said Sarawak was under threat from the communist party in Indonesia known as PKI in 1962 or 1963.

“And there were threats from the Malayan communist party, which was very aggressive: they wanted to take over and create a communist Malaya. Singapore was on the verge of being taken over by Barisan Socialist.

“So those were very difficult times, and we had to make a decision because we could not defend ourselves. All we had was one brigade.”

When prompted for his opinion on a suggestion by an academician that those who did not like what was going on in Malaysia could leave the country, he said: “It is not something like that. It is more involved than that. (It’s) not as simple as that.”

-The Borneo Post

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