MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, December 30, 2010

S'wak PKR lauds Chan's stands on 'special rights'

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: A Sarawak PKR leader has welcomed Deputy Chief Minister George Chan’s assurance that the state government was against the erosion of Sarawak's “special rights” as detailed in the 18-point agreement.

“I welcome the sudden realisation of state Barisan Nasional leaders on Sarawak’s rights which we in Pakatan Rakyat or PKR have been voicing all the while. But I am wondering what, after 30 years as Sarawak leaders, did they do to preserve and protect such rights," said state PKR chairman Baru Bian.

Bian was responding to comments by Chan during a dinner with the Christian community in Miri on Monday.

Chan had said that of particular concern to the state were the rights on religious freedom and practices.

He said all top leaders of the state BN had pledged to defend those special rights in the interests of Sarawakians.

He also said that all the leaders had agreed to speak with “one voice”, especially on the special rights under the 18-point agreement which were given to Sarawak in 1963 on her joining Sabah, Singapore and Malaya to form the federation of Malaysia.

Sabah was accorded a 20-point agreement.

The 18-point agreement includes the issue of religious practices, civil rights of non-Muslims, use of local languages, immigration, labour laws, Borneanisation, and the control of natural resources and land administration, among others.

Not being confrontational

Chan said that by bringing up the special rights issue, the people in Sarawak were not being confrontational.

“We do not want to go against any authority, but we must ensure that the freedom to practise our religion and our culture will not erode. It has to be preserved at all costs for the sake of harmony and peace,” he had said.

Reacting to the comments, Bian said: “I believe that now they have realised what we have been saying is true and of great concern to Sarawakians.

“If for the last 30 years the state BN didn’t succeed in enforcing these 18 points, what makes the people of Sarawak believe now they can defend those rights?

“For PKR and Pakatan, those rights are already signed into our manifesto on Dec 19, 2009 to respect the 1963 Malaysian agreement.

“It is funny the issues that we highlight like NCR (native customary rights) land seems to be of concern to BN so suddenly, but for the last 30 years it was not bothered.

“Sarawakians should give Pakatan the opportunity in this (coming state) election to enforce all these rights and we promise Sarawakians we will not disappoint them,” said Bian.

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