October 2016

SUPP admits leaders agreed to amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution which reduced Sarawak from founding partner to being one of 13 states.

PETALING JAYA: A leading Barisan Nasional component in Sarawak has apologised for having supported the amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1976 that led to the downgrading of the state from its previous sovereign status.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Secretary-General Sebastian Ting Chew Yew admitted that his party had not objected, and had helped to pass the amendment which essentially reduced Sarawak from its 1963 status as a founding partner to the peninsula-based government, to simply being one of 13 states in Malaysia, The Borneo Post reported Thursday.

“The present leadership accepts this responsibility and, on behalf of the party, I would like to apologise to party members and the people of Sarawak as a whole,” Ting said in a statement released by the party Wednesday.

The amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution in 1976 through Act A354, saw Sarawak downgraded from Region 2 in the Federation of Malaysia, to being one of 13 states in Malaysia.

“It is the most critical and fundamental ‘discrepancy’ found in the Federal Constitution.

“This is because, as a result, it has tremendously curtailed the disbursement of federal funds for Sarawak and Sabah to a level of state, rather than two of the three founding partners.

“In other words, both Sarawak and Sabah have been short-changed in financial allocations from the Federal Government,” Ting said in the statement.

He expressed his party’s support for Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s call to amend Article 1 of the Federal Constitution in Parliament to its original wording.

Ting also supported Deputy Chief Minister Dr James Masing’s call for all MPs from Sarawak and Sabah to put aside party allegiances and political differences in order to get the Federal Constitution amended to restore the constitutional position of both Sarawak and Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia.

“According to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), there shall be no confusion that the Federation of Malaysia is a federation of nations, unlike the former Federation of Malaya which was a unitary state system with the centralisation of governing powers,” he said, referring to the agreement as an association of equal partners which combines each other’s strengths and resources with each individuality retained.

Ting added that the Sarawak government now wanted to use the Cobbold Commission, Inter-Governmental Committee, MA63 and the Malaysia Act 1963, that could not be altered or overridden by any act of Parliament, in order to claim the rights and entitlements which belonged to Sarawak with the signing of the MA63.

SUPP currently has one MP, Richard Riot, who is also minister of human resources, and seven state assemblymen, in the PBB-led BN coalition government.

The SUPP statement also came out strongly in criticising Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UMP) lecturer Professor Ramlah Adam over her presentation at a seminar entitled “A Journey To Merdeka: Sarawak in Malaysia” last Sunday.

“She appears not to understand that Sarawak is not a state like any of the other states in the peninsula but as a founding equal partner to the Federation of Malaya, which originally comprised 11 states.

“Most people would not know that her (Ramlah’s) own state was not a signatory to the Malaysia Agreement, and as such, not invited to the negotiation table to set up the new nation in 1963. So how can Perlis be on equal status with Sarawak?” Ting asked.

KUCHING: Kerajaan Sarawak berhasrat untuk mengembalikan status Sarawak kepada kedudukan asal sebelum pindaan Perlembagaan dilakukan pada 1976 dan meminta Putrajaya mempertimbangkan negeri itu setaraf dengan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu kerana ia merupakan satu daripada pihak yang memetrai Perjanjian Malaysia 53 tahun lalu.

Ketua Menteri Tan Sri Adenan Satem berkata, Sarawak bukan hanya satu daripada 14 negeri dan wilayah kerana di bawah Perlembagaan asal Persekutuan, dimaktubkan bahawa Persekutuan Malaysia terdiri daripada semua negeri di Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, negeri Sabah dan Sarawak di Borneo dan Singapura.

“Selepas pindaan pada 1976, Sarawak menjadi satu daripada 14 negeri di Malaysia,” kata Adenan kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Seminar Sejarah Sarawak yang mengupas tajuk berkaitan dengan pembentukan Malaysia.

Pindaan itu menurut beliau telah menyebabkan kuasa Sarawak terhakis, justeru beliau mahu mengembalikan hak dan kedudukan Sarawak kepada keadaan asal.

Adenan turut menghujahkan bahawa pindaan berkenaan adalah tidak sah dan batal kerana melanggar Perjanjian Malaysia, Laporan Jawatankuasa Antara Kerajaan dan Laporan Suruhanjaya Cobbold.

Ujarnya, Sarawak ialah satu daripada pihak yang tandatangani Perjanjian Malaysia pada 1963, dan dengan itu punya taraf sama.

Terdahulu, dalam ucapannya Ketua Menteri yang dengan tegas telah menuntut hak dan autonomi Sarawak sejak mengambil alih kepemimpinan pada 2015 berkata, Sarawak bukan satu daripada negeri dalam Persekutuan pada 1963 tetap negeri pengasas dan terdapat perbezaan antara negeri pengasas dengan kedudukan negeri dalam Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.

“Kemungkinan itu ialah kesilapan kita kerana tidak menentang pindaan pada 1976,” katanya sambil menambah beliau tidak mahu menyalahkan sesiapa dalam kes itu.

Sementara itu, Profesor Datin Paduka Ramlah Adam berkata isu berkaitan Perjanjian 18/20 Perkara telah diserapkan dalam Perlembagaan dan ketika Malaysia dibentuk negeri persekutuan telah kehilangan nama asal, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu yang disifatkannya sebagai satu pengorbanan.

Source: Sarawak Voice

He says the people are fully aware that development of infrastructure in Sabah is the responsibility of the government of the day.

KOTA KINABALU: A longtime Borneo rights advocate has charged that the Sabah Government, in particular Chief Minister Musa Aman, has not responded to requests from Opposition lawmakers for development aid.

“In the Sabah Legislative Assembly, Opposition members have repeatedly spoken up on the need for development, improvements, repairs and maintenance,” Bingkor Assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan said in a statement.

“The BN, as the current government, has a moral and legal duty to respond,” the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) president said.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey said the suggestions and appeals had not been acted upon by the BN Government.

He warned that the writing is on the wall for BN.

“Its days as the state government are numbered.

“The government should respect the demands of the rakyat, made through their elected representatives.”

Jeffrey said it was “sad” BN leaders continued with their “lies and deception” to fool the people.

The BN claims the Opposition is unable to bring development.”

He said it was fortunate that the rakyat were “no longer fools to be duped time and again” by BN leaders.

“They are fully aware that development is the responsibility of the government of the day.”

If one were to traverse the whole of Sabah, it is obvious the BN Government has failed to properly develop Sabah, he continued.

“There’s a lack of clean treated water, electricity and good roads. Sealed roads are not properly maintained.”

He cited the Sepulut-Kalabakan highway as an example. “It is in a bad state even though it was just completed a few years ago.”

The rights advocate pointed out that the chief minister had to go to Pagalungan in Pensiangan, by helicopter to attend a function earlier this week.

“If he had travelled by road, it would have taken him at least two hours to reach Pergalungan. If it had rained, he would have difficulty getting there on the gravel road.”

The BN Government has failed to properly develop Sabah, he summed up.

“It’s the poorest state in Malaysia with 40 per cent of the poor in the country.”

Even Sabah rights, written in the Federal Constitution, have been totally ignored for the past 50 years, he said.

“This includes Sabah’s revenue rights for the past 47 years.”

Human rights advocate says constitutional experts like Shad Faruqi, Tommy Thomas, Azmi Sharom and Gurdial Singh should be a part of the forum.

KOTA KINABALU: A human rights advocate in Borneo has suggested that constitutional experts in the country participate in a forum to discuss the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.

Daniel John Jambun made this call after expressing surprise that a constitutional expert stated the obvious on Article 1 in the Federal Constitution (FC) instead of offering novel insights on law.

“Everyone knows how Article 1 has read since 1976,” said Jambun in a telephone interview. “The issue, as raised by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, was to restore Article 1 to its pre-1976 status.”

Jambun, who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), said that he has also been left wondering why Aziz Bari thinks that getting a two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend Article 1 would be difficult.

“If MPs want to deny Sabah and Sarawak their rights, the Federal Court can sit on the matter,” he said. “The Federal Court should also visit the definition of Federation in Article 160.”

The human rights advocate elsewhere begs to differ with the constitutional lawyer implying the 1976 amendment could only have been challenged then.

“There’s no time limit when it’s a continuing breach,” he said. “Besides, the Malaysian Parliament cannot violate the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).”

Jambun, in disagreeing with Aziz, suggested he get together with other constitutional experts on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. “It’s in their professional interest as well to explore this issue.”

“Bopim can work on bringing together sponsors for a public forum on the issue,” he assured. “We can invite some international experts like Andrew Harding and Anthony Lester, among others.”

Offhand, he can recall several local constitutional experts, namely Shad Faruqi, Tommy Thomas, Azmi Sharom and Gurdial Singh.

“There might be others out there Aziz can invite,” said Jambun.

Briefly, he said, the 1976 amendment is inherently null and void as if there had been no amendment. “The original Article 1 still stands as the amendment violates MA63.”

The sovereignty of Parliament, he stressed, was confined to its five year term. “No Parliament can be bound by a previous Parliament or bind a future Parliament.”

MA63 is an international agreement and treaty signed by five governments – the UK, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – and lodged with the United Nations Secretary-General, reminded the Bopim chief. “It’s virtually a trust deed and above the Malaysian Parliament.”

Under the Malaysian system, he pointed out, the Federal Constitution is supreme, not Parliament. “The Federal Constitution cannot be seen as going against itself.”

MA63 is a constitutional document and should be read together with the other constitutional documents on Malaysia and the Federal Constitution , said Jambun. “The Federal Constitution cannot be read in isolation. 

That’s what Aziz did on Article 1 post-1976.”

Star President Jeffrey Kitingan supports Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem's call for Putrajaya to rectify 'past mistakes'.

KOTA KINABALU: The time has come for “past mistakes” to be rectified if the Federation was to survive and move forward, Sabah opposition politician Jeffrey Kitingan said in a statement today.

Calling the 1976 constitutional amendment a mistake, and which should be reversed, he said: “The original basis for the formation of Malaysia should be restored.”

Jeffrey also pointed out that the original status was reflected in the 1963 Federal Constitution.

If the Federation of Malaya and Putrajaya does not do so, he cautioned, it’s only appropriate and fair that Sabah and Sarawak should be given the option.

“Obviously, it (Federal government) does not wish to honour the basis for the formation of Malaysia,” he lamented.

Jeffrey, who is Bingkor Assemblyman and Star President, was commenting on a statement by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem on the 1976 constitutional amendment.

Adenan dismissed the amendment, which had reduced the status of Sabah and Sarawak to that of the 12th and 13th states in Malaysia, saying it was “null and void” as it had contravened the original Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“The Federation of Malaya (the peninsula) was now masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia.

“The Federal Government had no business amending the Constitution in 1976.

“It smells of a vicious and sinister plot to colonize Sabah and Sarawak and ‘steal’ their resources and wealth,” Jeffrey said.

Referring to the Commission of Enquiry for North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak that was establised in 1962 to determine if the people supported the proposal to create a Federation of Malaysia, Jeffrey said the chairman of the Commission, Lord Cameron Cobbold, was generally against the idea.

“He had stated in 1962 that Malaysia would not, in his judgement, be generally acceptable or successful.

“He also forewarned that Malaysia would involve firstly the takeover of the Borneo Territories by the Federation of Malaya, and secondly, the submersion of the individualities of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak,” Jeffrey said.

The other four members of the Cobbold Commission were then chief minister of Penang, Wong Pow Nee; then permanent secretary to the ministry of foreign affairs Malaya, Mohammed Ghazali Shafie; former governor of Sarawak, Anthony Abell; and former chief secretary of Malaya, David Watherston.

“If the founding fathers in Borneo knew in 1963 that Sabah and Sarawak would join the Federation of Malaya as the 12th and 13th states, there would have been no Malaysia today,” Jeffrey said.

He also suggested that if Sabah and Sarawak were independent and not been a part of Malaysia, they could even have been as wealthy as Singapore and Brunei, which he called the 3rd and 5th richest nations in the world.

“Sarawak is contributing RM55 billion and Sabah another RM20 billion annually to the Federal Government from their oil and gas reserves,” said Jeffrey.

Instead, he said, Sabah and Sarawak are languishing as the poorest and second poorest states in Malaysia.

“Almost all our wealth is being siphoned off to develop Malaya (the peninsula).”

Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian says Opposition will also support any BN motion for the reversal of federal amendment in 1976 that reduced Sarawak to a state.

KUCHING: PKR said it will table a motion in the coming Sarawak State Assembly sitting on Sarawak’s position under the Federal Constitution.

It said it will propose that the state government make a stand in reversing the 1976 amendment to Article 1(2) of the Constitution, which downgraded the status of Sarawak from a region to a state.

“We would like to table a motion, probably to initiate a move and notice to the state government that we Sarawakians should be making a stand on this.

“We hope the state assembly will agree to tell all YBs, from across the political divide, to agree with us,” Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian told the media here today.

The assembly sits from Nov 21.

Baru said it did not matter to the Opposition component which side initiates the motion.

“At least there will be a unanimous stand on the matter. We are aware that eventually the proper place where this should be done is Parliament.

“But I think it is right for Sarawak to make a stand first. Hopefully, the YBs from Sarawak and maybe the state government itself will support or sponsor an amendment bill in the Parliament in the coming sitting.”

Baru pointed out that the state BN had unanimously supported a motion in 2012 by Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen calling for the increment of oil royalty from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.

Baru said even if the BN decided to table a motion on the present issue, the Opposition will support it.
Adenan recently said Sarawak MPs may propose in the Parliament to reinstate an article of the Constitution to enable the state to regain its powers that had been eroded over the years.

Adenan said before the amendment in 1976, Sarawak and Sabah fell under a different category from Peninsular Malaysian states.

“Before that (the amendment in 1976), it stated that the states of Malaysia shall be (a) the states of West Malaysia, (b) Sarawak and Sabah and (c) Singapore. Now there is only one category,” the chief minister was quoted as saying.

The amendment to Article 1(2) was among 48 amendments to the Federal Constitution under a Bill tabled by then Prime Minister Hussein Onn on July 12, 1976 and was passed on July 13, 1976.

The motion to downgrade the status of Sarawak and Sabah from regions within Malaysia to states was debated on July 12 and July 13, 1976 and was supported by 130 MPs. Only four MPs objected.

None of the MPs from Sarawak opposed the Bill covering the amendments. The four MPs who opposed were Lim Kit Siang, Dr Tan Chee Khoon, Farn Seong Than and Lee Lam Thye, all from DAP.

Saya pasti semua rakyat Sarawak termasuk wakil-wakil rakyat di Parlimen Malaysia dan Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak gembira dan teruja dengan perjuangan Tok Nan untuk mengembalikan hak-hak Sarawak yang terhakis akibat kehendak-kehendak Malaysia Agreement 1963 dan pandangan-pandangan Inter Government Committee tidak dipenuhi sepenuhnya sejak merdeka.

Kandungan-kandungan dokumen penting penubuhan Malaysia ini wajar diteliti selalu.

Bahkan dinyatakan ia perlu disemak setiap 10 tahun. Nampaknya ia hanya pernah disemak sekali sahaja sekitar tahun 1974. Selepas itu diam membisu hilang dari radar rakyat sedangkan Malaysia sudah terbentuk lebih 50 tahun.

Oleh itu, bagi menjadikan perjuangan Tok Nan ini tercapai, sokongan dan usaha terbuka perlu dilakukan tanpa menafikan wujud usaha serius di peringkat pimpinan utama negara. Hal ini perlu dilakukan agar proses ini berjalan lancar tanpa sebarang gangguan dan salah sangka.

Namun begitu, beberapa persoalan utama timbul bagi memenuhi keperluan membetulkan kembali kedudukan Sarawak dalam Persekutuan Malaysia yang perlu diambil kira;

1. Sekiranya pindaan perlembagaan 1976 yang menurunkan taraf Sarawak itu telah berlaku 40 tahun lalu adalah sah di Parlimen, apakah pindaan itu pernah dibawa untuk pengesahan Dewan Undangan negeri Sarawak?

2. Jika ya dan diterima maka pindaan itu sah. Jika tidak maka jelas pindaan itu bertentangan dengan MA1963 yang merupakan International Treaty yang mempunyai peraturan tersendiri.

3. Jika ia pernah diterima oleh DUN Sarawak, maka DUN yang sama perlu bertindak menolaknya kembali dengan usul yang baharu dikemukakan.

4. Jika pindaan itu tidak pernah dibawa ke DUN Sarawak maka anggota Parlimen perlu mencadangkan pindaan pembatalan terhadap Artikel Perlembagaan yang jelas bertentangan dengan MA1963 yang tidak boleh diubah suai tanpa persetujuan pihak pihak yang terlibat dengan perjanjian itu.

Inilah yang dibangkitkan oleh Tok Nan yang perlu disokong dan diperjuangkan.

Sekarang terserah kepada kebijaksanaan Ahli Ahli Parlimen dan Dewan Undangan Negeri untuk menilai perkara ini dan “tindakan” selanjutnya.

Kalaulah pihak di Malaya sedang sibuk dengan pindaan RUU355 yang hangat diperkatakan sejak sidang Parlimen yang lalu, maka sewajarnya pihak di Sarawak – sebagai memenuhi kehendak rakyat dan perjuangan Tok Nan – hendaklah ada inisiatif untuk membetulkan keadaan hakisan kuasa negara Sarawak yang telah berlaku sejak 1976.

Sejarah akan mencatatkan langkah ini dan zuriat keturunan kita yang akan mendapat kesannya. Yang dinilai adalah tindakan kita.

* YB Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya adalah Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri kawasan Jemoreng

Source: Sarawak Voice

Penampang MP says there is no reason why Sabah cannot emulate Singapore in developing an innovative and excellent education system.

PETALING JAYA: Penampang MP Darell Leiking has outlined his vision for a Sabahan education policy where children of the state are nurtured through a fair and progressive education system.
Speaking to FMT about the proposed Sabahan education policy, which he and Semporna MP Shafie Apdal are pushing through their new Sabah-based multiracial party, Leiking said it was high time the Land Below the Wind decided its own education matters.
“Sabahans know the local terrain and culture far better than those outside of Sabah,” he said, adding he believed Putrajaya had not given Sabah its due entitlement in terms of education funds.
“In Sabah, we have so many schools which are in a dilapidated condition.
“Perhaps, even more damaging, is the lack of East Malaysian history in our textbooks, including the terms of the formation of Malaysia and the role of our forefathers in Malaysia’s formation.”
Leiking said he and Shafie had a plan to develop a generation of Sabahans who not only excelled in academic and vocational education, but were also trained to think “outside the box”.
He added that the moulding of students under such an education policy would begin from preschool.
“Just look at how Singapore has built its education system and how many other nations have designed their education to create a hardworking and innovative culture.
“Have you ever wondered why hundreds, if not thousands of Malaysians, travel from all over the country, especially Johor, to Singapore to send their kids to school in Singapore?
“There must be something that Singapore has done to make travelling there worthwhile.”
Leiking said with the talent and experience Sabah had, the state could also do what Singapore did.
He added that he and Shafie envisioned a total revamp of how children could be educated.
Earlier this month, Leiking told FMT that his new party was pushing for a new education policy for Sabah, among others, as part of a “new deal” the party wanted to offer Sabahans.
Leiking said the party was working with a team of technocrats, academics, professionals and businessmen to formulate a new deal for Sabah.

As UK and Malaya began the process of implementing their Grand Design" to transfer the Borneo territories to Malaya, 3 former British colonial territories exercised their right to decide on self-determination.

1. In 1961 the British Cameroons, Africa the people were allowed the right to choose between merging their country with Nigeria or the Southern Cameroons. But they did not have a choice to choose independence and this issue has now being revived in the Cameroons.

2. In the West Indies Jamaicans voted to leave the Federation of the West Indies AND the Federation was dissolved. A referendum on continued membership of the Federation of the West Indies was held in Jamaica on 19 September 1961.[1] Voters were asked "Should Jamaica remain in the Federation of the West Indies?" The result was 54.1% voting "no", resulting in the country leaving the federation and its dissolution in 1962. Voter turnout was 61.5%.[2]

3. In Dec. 1962 Britain also acknowledges Nyasaland’s right to secede from Central African Federation.

On 1 Sept 1962 Singapore proceeded to hold a referendum on merger with "Malaysia". There was no option for the people to reject "Malaysia". And in 1965 Singapore freely exited "Malaysia".

However, the British & Malayan governments totally blocked any demands for a referendum on the issue in Sabah and Sarawak.

The exit option was also denied to the Sabah and Sarawak people despite what Lord Lansdowne the IGC Chairman said when Sarawakians demanded an "exit clause" in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He said “any State voluntarily entering a federation had an intrinsic right to secede at will”. He obviously had in mind the above examples of African and Caribbean examples of countries exiting as members of a federation.

While S'pore freely exited Malaysia by 1965 Sabah and Sarawak were blocked by Malaya from doing so..

Source: Borneo Wiki

FIFTY years on, the Royal Princes of Johor have raised the spectre of recession – as the resource-rich States of Sarawak and Sabah increase pressure for devolution of Federal powers, and demand a greater share of royalties . . .

THE PICTURE of relative stability presented to the world by Malaysia for most of the 50 years since its independence appears to be shattering. With a Central Government embroiled in corruption scandals, coupled with terrorism threats from Jihadists returning from fighting in Syria, Kuala Lumpur is having to contend with threats of secession and devolution from three States.

Devolution itself is not an issue. After all, Indonesia devolved power from Jakarta to the regions many years ago.

But what could be an issue is the inevitable question: Will devolution lead to secession?

The two East Malaysian States of Sarawak and Sabah are seeking to have more authority and funding in the running of their own affairs.

But more surprising is the fact that the Royal Princes of Johor, the southern-most State of peninsula Malaysia, have recently raised the spectre of secession.

The process of devolution of power to Sarawak is well under way. In late 2015, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, told Sarawakians that he supported the idea.

British academic, Andrew Harding, who is attached to the Centre of Asian Legal Studies at the National University of Singapore, believes Sarawak will get some form of devolution in the near future.

“But,” Harding says, “whether such devolution will be enough to appease a growing sense of disquiet in regard to Federalism as practised in Malaysia and Sarawak over the last half century remains to be seen.”

The ball has started rolling in Sarawak, and the next question is when neighbouring Sabah might also push for devolution from Kuala Lumpur. Some aggrieved citizens in Sarawak and Sabah are demanding secession, but officials do not take this position, says Harding.

He has doubts that the States calling for devolution are strong enough economically to stand on their own.

And he points out that discussion around devolution comes at a time of unusual weakness for the Federal Government, beset as it is by unprecedented corruption scandals.

A unique window of opportunity has also been presented in Sarawak following a change of leadership there, with long-time Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, handing the reins to Adenan Satem — after 33 years in office.

Sarawak is sometimes referred to as the Land of the White Rajahs because it was run by James Brooke, an English adventurer, and his descendants for more than a century. Situated in the northern part of Borneo, it has a diverse but small population of around 2.6 million.

 Significantly, Sarawak is rich in resources – timber, oil and gas. Sabah and Sarawak account for 60 per cent of Malaysia’s total land area, and a vast proportion of its natural resources.

“The prevailing view among politicians of all stripes, officials, and community leaders in Sarawak is that the State is dominated by Federal power,” writes Harding. “In short, many Sarawakians consider the State is treated virtually as a Colony rather than an equal partner in a Federation.”

As is the case in many countries, smaller resource-rich States often chafe with resentment in the belief that they are not being treated fairly when it comes to sharing the spoils of mineral exploitation.

So it is that Sarawak feels it is not getting its fair share of revenue from oil and gas exports.

Malaysia in 1974 introduced its Petroleum Development Act, under which oil and gas rights available to the States were vested in the Federation through Petronas, the national oil company. In return, the States get cash payments as compensation.

In 1975, the payment was agreed at five per cent of the price of oil and gas found and sold by Petronas.

Currently, says Harding, Sarawak is demanding a royalty hike to 20 per cent — and more development funding. The yearly average in State royalties paid between 2005 and 2014 was RM2.2 billion out of the RM75.5 billion delivered to the national coffers.

Today, Sarawak is under-developed and has a high level of poverty as it continues to lag behind peninsula Malaysia in economic development and growth.

Sarawak’s annual GDP slowed in 1991-2013 to 4.4 per cent, compared with the national average of 5.9 per cent. Household income in Sarawak is 14.1 per cent lower than in the rest of Malaysia, notes Harding.

On other indicators such as treated water and electricity supply, Sarawakians are also badly off. Only 77 per cent have access to water, compared to almost 98 per cent in peninsula Malaysia, while 88 per cent have access to power against almost 100 per cent in peninsula Malaysia.

Against this backdrop of perceived inequality, unhappy Sarawakians have started to agitate for a greater share of the Federal budget and greater autonomy in managing their own affairs.

Similarly, in Sabah, simmering discontentment and unhappiness just below the surface is beginning to boil over with calls for secession and for Kuala Lumpur to respect the basis of the formation of the Malaysia Federation.

Under what is known as the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, an international treaty, four former British colonies — Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah — were brought together to form the Federation of Malaysia.  But Singapore broke away from Malaysia in 1965.

One of Sabah’s most outspoken politicians, Jeffrey Kitingan, says the ball is now in the court of Najib and at the feet of the Chief Secretary to the Federal Government.

Failure to implement full autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak will bring dire consequences to the Federal Government, warns the Harvard-educated Kitingan who has been lobbying for devolution through the media. He believes a Cabinet paper should be prepared for approval by the Cabinet and later presentation to the respective State legislative assemblies for debate and endorsement. Otherwise, he says, devolution will be seen as another of Najib’s broken promises.

Local media reports say the Najib Government’s Budget 2016 again “blatantly disregarded and failed to comply with constitutional provisions” on revenues payable to the States.

“Sabah clearly establishes that, as time passes, it is obvious that the UMNO Malayan leaders and the Federal Government have no intention of honouring the basis of the formation of Malaysia,” says Kitingan,

”With warnings by the Sultan and the Crown Prince of Johor that Johor can opt to secede if the terms of its agreement in forming the Federation are not honoured, the Prime Minister and the Federal Government need to quickly ensure that they look into and comply with the terms and conditions that Sabah and Sarawak agreed to in forming Malaysia if they do not wish Malaysia to break-up.”

Kitingan cites the failure of Malaysia’s Budget 2016 to provide for the return to Sabah of 40 per cent of net revenue (derived from Sabah),which exceeds RM20 billion annually.

There are also arrears of more than RM100 billion, while the 10 per cent export duty on petroleum will contribute an additional RM2 billion a year, he claims.

The expected drop in oil revenue of RM30.3 billion from Petronas in 2016 is no excuse to not provide sufficient allocations for Sabah and Sarawak because the revenue drop is more than offset by the RM39 billion expected from GST collections, he adds.

As it is, the two East Malaysian states lag 30 years behind Malaya (in development) but contribute some RM100 billion annually to Federal coffers, says Kitingan.

Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Adenan Satem, says the State Government does not want to secede from Malaysia.

Source: Asia Today

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