KUCHING: The Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) has called on Prime Minister Najib Razak to make good on his promise to return Sarawak’s rights by filing an amendment bill in Parliament to restore the state’s status as equal partner in the Federation of Malaysia.
“If the Prime Minister is serious at all about Sarawakian rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), then he should immediately move Parliament to repeal Amendment Act 354, Section 2, to restore Sarawakians’ original rights and status as the ’One-In-Three’ component nations that formed the Federation of Malaysia,” Star leader Lina Soo told FMT today.
Najib earlier told reporters in Lundu he was willing to negotiate to return the rights of Sarawak’s that have been eroded since the MA63 was signed.
“In the process of the implementation of MA63, if we have inadvertently taken away the rights of Sarawak, I am willing to consider giving them back to Sarawak.
“But this is subject to interpretation and discussion that is currently ongoing between the state and the federal government.”
“It is a very friendly discussion and hopefully, we will arrive at an understanding that will reflect the wish of the Sarawak people as well as ensure that the federal government will also be a strong partner of the state government,” said Najib during a press conference at the Tanjong Datu by-election media centre today.
He said five committees had been formed to each discuss one of the five areas on the devolution of powers.
“Discussions are currently ongoing and they will report back to the chief minister and me, and we will decide.
Soo however said she was sceptical of Najib’s promises.
“The phrase ‘subject to interpretation and discussion’ proves the words can be meaningless as discussion can go on for 50 years.
“We want to know if the Prime Minister will honour or forget his promise when the by-election is over. Once he returns to Putrajaya, all election promises may be forgotten, as has happened in the past.”
Soo said that in the interim, Najib’s proposal to increase Sarawak’s revenue could be immediately enforced.
“If he really wants to help Sarawak economically, he should not collect from Sarawak any form of the GST. Instead, the money should be retained by the Sarawak government to finance development.”
Soo also said that there was no need for committees to be formed on the matter of the devolution of powers.
“There is nothing complex about the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which is an international treaty with all rights, powers and safeguards for Sarawak spelt out clearly.
“Enforcement and implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is the critical issue.”
“Until this constitutional rectification is done, any talk of giving back Sarawak’s rights is mere pretence. Until Najib gets his MPs to vote for a constitutional amendment in Parliament, we will consider all this empty political talk in preparation of the coming general election.”
STAR reverted to its original name on Tuesday after announcing that the Election Commission had refused the party’s application to change its name to Reform. FMT