KUCHING: Sarawak Barisan Nasional has not used its strength in number of MPs to more quickly secure autonomy, including higher oil and gas royalties, the DAP says.
State DAP Chong Chieng Jen said Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had “totally failed to capitalise on Sarawak Barisan’s kingmaker position within the national Barisan”.
“Without Sarawak’s 25 Barisan MPs, the coalition would only have 109 MPs, which means the national Barisan will become a minority government if Sarawak Barisan pulls out,” Chong told reporters here yesterday.
The Bandar Kuching MP’s comments came on the day Adenan was holding talks in Putrajaya with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the much touted “devolution of power” promise.
A day earlier, Adenan said the opposition should not “pour cold water” on his efforts to regain Sarawak’s rights and privileges under the Malaysia Agreement. Adenan said if the DAP kept on wishing for his negotiations to fail, then it could jeopardise the process.
In rebuttal, Chong accused Adenan of “reducing himself to gutter politics by making baseless accusations” by implying the DAP was not interested in state autonomy for the greater benefit of Sarawakians.
Chong pointed out that all opposition state elected representatives supported Adenan’s bill in the legislative assembly to urged the Federal Government to increase oil royalties from 5% to 20%. “That was 18 months ago,” Chong said.
More recently, the DAP again voted in favour of a state Barisan bill to safeguard rights under the Malaysia Agreement, he said.
“Adenan cannot do much except to baselessly put the blame on the opposition to distract (people) from the issue,” Chong alleged.
He claimed DAP set the ball rolling on the autonomy agenda in its “Bintulu Declaration” in 2014, in which the DAP also called for 50% of taxes collected in Sarawak to be returned to the state government.
“Despite being the state government of the day, and having the full support of the opposition in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, the state Barisan has thus far failed to get the Federal Government to agree on matters like the oil royalty,” Chong said.
He claimed an oil royalty increase required just a federal Cabinet decision and without any change to the Constitution. “Adenan’s reason on needing more time to look at the legal and constitutional aspects of autonomy is not applicable in the issue of oil royalties.”