Politicians agree more has to be done to reflect Sabah, Sarawak as regions

KUCHING, Jan 15 — Politicians across the political divides agree that more needs to be done to reflect the spirit of Sabah and Sarawak being equal partners and founding members of the Federation of Malaysia.

Deputy Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Gerald Rentap Jabu said the Federal Constitution was recently amended to reflect the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) but more work must be done.

“There is not enough allocation given to Sarawak. Sarawak is as big as Peninsula Malaysia and since we are among the three parties that formed Malaysia, we should get one-third of the national budget,” he said.

Rentap added that the future of Sarawak remains bright with the local government embarking on digital economy and carbon storage initiative, among others.

He said this to comment on Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s speech during Umno’s 2022 general assembly on Friday highlighting that Sabah and Sarawak are now recognised as ‘regions’, instead of ‘states’.

Tupong assemblyman Fazzrudin Abdul Rahman also said the acknowledgement by the deputy prime minister was very much lauded as it supported the Sarawak government’s efforts to reclaim its rights as enshrined in MA63.

“That is why we have changed the title of ‘Chief Minister of Sarawak’ to the ‘Premier of Sarawak’ to signify that we are different from other states in the country,” he said.

However, Fazzrudin said efforts to recognise Sarawak as an equal partner in the country’s formation had to be expanded as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be coming to Sarawak soon to negotiate matters related to MA63.

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Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, meanwhile, said the acknowledgement by Zahid was a recognition of Sarawak rightful status within the Federation of Malaysia.

“The recognition is the first step and what is more important is that we get back what is truthfully ours and those rights are translated into policies that will benefit every Sarawakian and Sabahan.”

Dr Yii said he would carry out his role as a parliamentarian to ensure both the federal and Sarawak government fulfil their promises to uplift the livelihood of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

Parti Warisan deputy women chief Jo-Anna Sue Henley Rampas said it was a good start for Sabah and Sarawak to be recognised as regions and equal partners with Peninsula Malaysia in the formation of Malaysia.

“But what is more important is the substance of the recognition and hopefully, it is not just a cosmetic change. What we want is the substance related to the recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as regions,” said Rampas.

The politicians were asked for their comments after attending a leadership forum organised by The Sarawak Initiatives titled ‘Borneo Youth: Agent of Change in a New Malaysia’ yesterday. — Borneo Post


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