MP SPEAKS Firstly, let me congratulate Abang Johari Openg on his appointment as the new Sarawak chief minister.
He has a tall order to uphold and fulfill the late Adenan Satem's legacy in at least seven areas, viz:
1. Devolution, decentralisation and restoration of powers from Putrajaya to the Sarawak government not only in keeping with Malaysia Agreement 1963 but also in line with universal developments and trends on devolution and decentralisation of powers and jurisdictions.
2. Increase of Sarawak’s oil and gas royalty from the current amount of five percent to 20 percent to maximise the benefit Sarawak can get from its resources, whether forests, waterways, environment or minerals especially oil and gas.
3. Restoration of previous Sarawakian and Malaysian proficiency of English. Less than three months before his death, Adenan said the Sarawak government would support the formation of English-medium mission and private schools that prioritise education in the world’s lingua franca.
He said the Sarawak government recognised the need for uniformity that the national education policy is set to achieve, but uniformity should not be at the expense of excellence or competitiveness.
He said: “We want to ensure that the education system that we aspire to achieve produces graduates meeting the current needs of the industries as well as the ability to speak a good command of English.”
Indeed, the lack of English proficiency has become a national malady. A recent survey revealed that one in four graduates remains unemployed six months after graduation and the main reason for this, say 64 percent of employers in the same survey, is the graduates’ poor command of English.
UEC non-recognition 'baffling'
4. Recognition of the United Examinations Certificate (UEC) - not only by Sarawak government but also by the federal government.
Adenan had declared that he is “baffled” why Malaysia is the only country that does not recognise the UEC, when the qualification from Chinese independent schools was recognised by many countries and the top universities in the world
The federal government should heed Adenan’s warning that if Malaysia continues to refuse to recognise the UEC, other countries that recognised the UEC would “pinch” Malaysians with such qualifications and Malaysia would lose these “talents” to other countries.
Adenan had rightly asked: “Many non-Chinese parents are sending their children to study in Chinese schools too. So, how can we deny these students the opportunities in the country?”
Adenan had rightly said the Malaysian government’s policy on the UEC was a contradiction in terms. “The government invites foreign students to study here. They want to turn the country into an educational hub and centre of excellence. Why not allow UEC holders to enter local universities? It’s stupid not to allow them to do so.”
5. Resolution of the native customary rights (NCR) controversy. One of the last public news about Adenan was the statement by Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah that Adenan was willing to listen to the Dayak communities of Sarawak to find solutions to native customary rights (NCR) claims over “pemakai menoa” (communal land or territorial domain) and “pulau galau” (forest reserves).
One solution will be for the Sarawak legislative assembly under the new Sarawak chief minister to make the necessary amendments to the Sarawak Land Code to resolve the problem created by the recent Federal Court’s ruling on Dec 20 that “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” had no force of law in Sarawak.
Reject Hadi's bill takeover
6. Integrity and governance. The International Trade and Industry Minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said that Adenan had raised the bar when it came to integrity and governance.
This is all the more reason why the cabinet next Wednesday should consider how it could give effect to the Adenan legacy on integrity and governance, as Malaysia is in a grave crisis over both issues.
Transparency International (TI) has announced that it will release its corruption perception index (CPI) 2016 on Jan 25. I dread what is in store for Malaysia in the TI CPI 2016, and hope that Malaysia’s ranking and score will not plunge to their lowest levels in the 22-year series of TI CPI.
7. Endorsement of my Pensiangan formula to restore inter-racial and interreligious harmony in Malaysia and Sarawak. A great concern to Adenan was the undermining of inter-racial and interreligious relations in Sarawak and Malaysia in recent decades. This came about because of deviation from the Malaysian constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Rukunegara principles for Malaysia as an secular and harmonious multiracial and multi-religious nation.
It is precisely because we have deviated from the bedrock principles enshrined in the Malaysian constitution, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Rukunegara that the country has lost its way and entrapped in a swamp of political, economic and nation-building scandals.
Instead of building greater unity among the diverse races, religions, languages and cultures which have made Malaysia their home, we have allowed irresponsible and reckless people to create even greater disunity by aggravating racial and religious polarisation in the country.
Both the federal and the new Sarawak cabinet which would be formed next week should endorse what I call the Pensiangan formula, a creative and constructive response to address the political and constitutional stalemate created by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill motion.
The Pensiangan formula, which is a reaffirmation of the nation-building principles laid down in the Malaysian constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Rukunegara, will involve the establishment of an all-party parliamentary select committee to study and make proposals as to how to strengthen interreligious relations in the country which had come under great stress and strains, as well as to study the proposal made by Hadi in his private member’s bill.
LIM KIT SIANG is DAP parliamentary leader and Gelang Patah MP.- Mkini