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Saturday, July 1, 2017

How could Abang Jo not know what are Sarawak's rights?

Is the present Sarawak state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg serious about retrieving lost state rights or merely engaging in political rhetoric to keep alive the matters raised by the former chief minister Adenan Satem, at least for a while?
Recently, at an Aidilfitri gathering organised by Parti Pesaka Bumiputra (PBB), Abang Johari announced that a special legal team would be dispatched soon to London to search and gather information about matters relating to state rights under the Federation of Malaysia Agreement (MA63).
Law, Federal-State Relations and Project Monitoring assistant minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Amar Ghazali would lead the team.
Abang Johari emphasised that the Sawarak government will never forget the efforts undertaken by Adenan in trying to reclaim what legitimately belonged to Sarawak.
However, he added that before a systematic approach could be adopted, the Sarawak government needed pertinent information relating to state rights and hence the need for the formation of the legal team.
He further added that the Sarawak government must adopt a suitable approach based on facts before he could take up the matter with Putrajaya.
It is really astonishing or shocking to know that Abang Johari who took over the reins of power from Adenan does not even know what are the rights that legitimately belongs to Sarawak.
After 54 years since the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak state government wants to send a legal team simply because the present government as has no idea what legitimately constitute state rights and how some of these rights have been eroded over the years.
I am not sure whether there is a change of heart regarding the reclamation of state rights following the death of Adenan. Whatever could be said about the former chief minister, he spoke about state rights quite frequently and even managed to convince the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to initiate one or two rounds of discussions over Sarawak state rights.
But all of a sudden, it appears that Abang Johari might reverse what Adenan Satem ambitiously began. How is Abang Johari going to keep alive the memories of Adenan if the present Sarawak state government has no idea of what constitute their rights and those rights that have been taken away from them over the last five decades?
Or alternatively, is Abang Johari is pretending that he does not understand about state rights and hence the need to send a legal team to London.
Abang Johari might be new to his post, but he certainly understands what the Sarawakians are upset when it comes to state-federal relations.
Thus, the rhetoric of sending a legal team to London to unearth information about rights of Sarawak is a merely an excuse to delay the negotiations with the federal government.
I am sure that the federal government would be more than delighted to hear the latest move of Abang Johari. He might be their "favourite" candidate in Sarawak after all!

However, Abang Johari should understand that Sarawakians are no fools. They are intelligent enough to see the duplicity behind his latest move to forestall negotiations of state rights for a long time.

P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.- Mkini

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