Negotiating for autonomous rights


It is going to be a long and difficult journey for the Sarawak government in its negotiation for greater autonomous control and rights from the Federal Government.

It seems that certain federal leaders in Putrajaya are questioning how much greater autonomy Sarawak can seek.

Last week, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia purportedly challenged Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg to a debate on the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Pandikar Amin had reportedly questioned the scope of the greater rights and autonomous control sought by Sarawak.

Abang Johari declined to participate in the debate and said state leaders would continue to push for greater rights in terms of financial control and resource management.

It did not help when Sarawak DAP leaders took the opportunity to criticise Abang Johari and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional for failing to secure greater rights for Sarawak all these years, in terms of oil and gas revenue control, education and such.

Ordinary Sarawakians can only look on anxiously at these developments.

Not many Sarawakians – and Malaysians at large – understand in depth what the Malaysia Agreement entails.

They do not know the exact history which led to Sarawak, Sabah, Malaya and Singapore coming together to form Malaysia in 1963. Singapore left the union shortly after.

To educate the people on this Malaysia Agreement topic, I think it is crucial that the three historical documents and treaties that led to Sarawak, Sabah, Malaya and Singapore forming Malaysia be included in the school history books.

The three crucial documents that contain these true historical facts are the Cobbold Commission Report 1962, the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962 and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

There is a serious lack of knowledge about the real historical facts that had led to the formation of Malaysia.

This is especially true about the younger generation born after the formation of Malaysia.

The younger Sarawakians do not know about the rights of Sarawak as equal partners in Malaysia.

The three key documents which led to the signing of the treaty in London on July 9, 1963 also reflected the challenges faced by those involved in trying to create an independent country.

The documents detailed the terms and conditions and spelt out the autonomous rights of the four partners.

Sarawak must have more public forums to allow the general public to know and discuss the latest issues concerning the autonomous rights of the state within Malaysia.

Of course, we must proceed with caution and always remember that we must never compromise on national unity and harmony even as we negotiate for greater recognition of our rights.

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