The battle for Sarawak starts today.At the close of nomination on 6th April there were 213 candidates vying for 71 state constituencies. The ruling party, as tradition would dictate, fielded candidates in all 71 state seats.
The West Malaysian oppositions coalition Pakatan Rakyat are contesting in 68 seats led by overly ambitious PKR with 48 seats, DAP 15 and PAS 5.The pact with SNAP broke down and the party going its own way.
Local opposition SNAP seemed more practical than PKR contesting in only 27 seats and is expected to do better than PKR. DAP is expected to capture some Chinese seats and PAS would be completely out in the cold.Many seats involved three-cornered or more tussle with independence candidates joining in the fray.
Sarawakians should learn from the Sabah mistakes..... "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" and live to regret it for the rest of their lives.At the moment the state are still master of its own destiny and still preserved certain autonomy while Sabah has given up most of them through every succeeding governments weaken by the politics of federalism.
Sarawak is still ruled under a state coalition which is now under threat of breaking up the same way as Sabah had gone over two decades ago when the state fell to the anti-federal opposition PBS and the back-stabbing of the BN that led to the entry of UMNO into Sabah.With the loss of autonomy prescribed under the Malaysian Agreement which has 20 points for Sabah and 18 points for Sarawak the state has lost its bargaining power and is reduced to almost the same status as other states in Peninsula Malaysia which should not have been the case as Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners with the Federation of Malaya in the creation of the new nation. Sabah and Sarawak should be autonomous regions of the Federation.
Below is the 20-point Malaysian Agreement for Sabah.
Point 1: Religion
While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia, there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply in North Borneo.
Point 2: Language
(a) Malay should be the national language of the Federation.
(b) English should continue to be used for a period of ten years after Malaysia Day.
(c) English should be the official language of North Borneo for all purposes, State or Federal without limitation of time.
Point 3: Constitution
Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of free association of States and should not be a series of amendments to a constitution drafted and agreed by different States in totally different circumstances. A new Constitution for North Borneo was, of course, essential.
Point 4: Head of the Federation
The Head of State in North Borneo should not be eligible for election as Head of the Federation.
Point 5: Name of the Federation
“Malaysia” but not “Melayu Raya”
Point 6: Immigration
Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the Federation Government but entry into North Borneo should also require approval of the State Government. The Federal Government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into North Borneo for State Government purposes except on strictly security grounds. North Borneo should have unfettered control over the movement of reasons, other than those in Federal Government employ, from other parts of Malaysia into North Borneo.
Point 7: Right of Secession
There should be no right to secede from the Federation.
Point 8: Borneanisation
Borneanisation of the public services should proceed as quickly as possible.
Point 9: British Officers
Every effort should be made to encourage British Officers to remain in the public services until their places can be taken by suitably qualified people from North Borneo.
Point 10: Citizenship
The recommendations in paragraph 148 (K) of the Report of the Cobbold commission should govern the citizenship rights of persons in the Federation of North Borneo subject to the following amendments.
(a) Subparagraph (1) should not contain the provision as to fie years residence.
(b) In order to tie up with our law, subparagraph (1a) should read ‘seven out of ten years’ instead of ‘eight out of twelve years’.
(c) Subparagraph (III) should not contain any restriction tied to the citizenship of parents – a person born in North Borneo after Malaysia must be a Federal citizen.
Point 11: Tariff and Finance
North Borneo should have control of its own finance, development funds and tariffs.
Point 12: Special Position of Indigenous Races
In principle, the indigenous races of North Borneo should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present Malaya formula is this regard is not necessarily applicable in North Borneo.
Point 13: State Government
(a) The Chief Minister should be elected by unofficial members of Legislative Council.
(b) There should be a proper Ministerial system in North Borneo.
Point 14: Transitional Period
This should be seven years and during such period legislative powers must be left with the State of North Borneo by the Constitution and not merely delegated to the State Government by the Federal Government.
Point 15: Education
The existing educational system of North Borneo should be maintained and for this reason it should be under State control.
Point 16: Constitutional Safeguards
No amendment, modification or withdrawal of any special safeguards granted to North Borneo should be made by the Central Government without the positive concurrence of the Government of the State of North Borneo. The power of amending the Constitution of the State of North Borneo should belong exclusively to the people of the State.
Point 17: Representation in the Federal Parliament
This should take account not only of the population of North Borneo but also of its size and potentialities and in any case should not be less than that of Singapore.
Point 18: Name of Head of State
Yang Dipertua Negara
Point 19: Name of State
Point 20: Land, Forests, Local Government, etc
The provisions in the Constitution of the Federation in respect of the power of the National Land Council should not apply in North Borneo. Likewise, the National Council for the Local Government should not apply in North Borneo.
Most of the above have been eroded.
The leaders in Sabah danced to the tune of Kuala Lumpur or rather Putrajaya as UMNO is the linchpin of the state coalition while the other partners are small fragmented local communal parties which, more often than not, are fighting among themselves for ministerial positions.Even mosquito party with 2 state seats think they deserved the deputy chief minister position and ridiculed the chief minister's decision.
Sabah would need another strong man to return to the days of yore.
The leaders in Sabah are so disunited because of greed they are unable to stand together to make demands to the central government for return of state rights and for better benefits for the people of Sabah.Every leader is fighting only for his own self-preservation.
Do I blame the Federal government?
No, I don't, it's the fault of Sabahans who chose irresponsible and selfish leaders who are prepared to trade-in states interests to keep themselves in power.
The rot started soon after the fall of muscleman Mustapha Harun and completed its circle with the entry of UMNO to Sabah which, ironically, was brought in by Mustapha after the fall of Berjaya and played out by PBS to form a coalition in the 1985 state elections. He was sworn in as chief minister....helped by losers in Berjaya who refused to give up power.Sabah had 2 chief ministers for a short while.He later dissolved USNO to make way for UMNO and all for the same reason.... greed.
Mustapha, thought with UMNO in Sabah he could make a come back.Sorry for him, it was UMNO who got rid of him in the first place for his excesses and delusion of grandeur of wanting to take Sabah out of Malaysia. The Federal government created Berjaya to topple him. As they say the rest is history.We now have to live with what we have created for ourselves.
The biggest dissatisfaction and unhappiness expressed by Sarawakians are the massive corruptions by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, his family and cronies.Billion of ringgits have been siphoned off the state to enrich the power elites.If an audit were to be done I am sure Sarawak had lost billion of ringgits in state revenues due to under invoicing of export prices and underpayment of timber royalties.This, if the MACC wants to know, if they know how to do forensic audit, would be ten times bigger than what the Custom Department had lost over the years due to corruptions.
The biggest timber operator in the world used to be American, now the biggest is a Sarawakian company, operating in almost every known rain forests of the world.The start-up was Sarawak forests given by Taib.
Sarawak, may not be alone in this shameful enterprise, the story is repeated in every state but Sarawak being far richer in its timber resources has bigger pickings which have made overstayer Taib, members of family and cronies very very rich, attributable partly to our democratic system that allows leaders unlimited stay in power.The American two-term system would have been better fitted in countries where leaders tend to put their hands in the cookie jar.
The answer to the Sarawak dilemma is to oust Taib but keep the status quo and at the same time give SNAP, the only viable local opposition a strong showing.
PKR,DAP and PAS would not be able to fulfill the grievances of Sarawakians. Other than DAP, the other two would not be making much inroad in Sarawak politics.PKR contesting 48 seats is an ill-concept and goes to show how greedy this Anwar's outfit is, bite off more than they could chew.
After all what I have said I still think Taib will be returned to power and may even retain its two-third majority.
Sarawakians should learn from the Sabah experience.Don't give up your rights, just give up Taib and his cronies.