Abang Jo: GPS, not opposition, best suited to defend Sarawak rights

SIBU: Sarawak does not need opposition MPs to fight for its rights because Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is perfectly capable of representing the state in Parliament, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said the notion that opposition representatives would be better suited to speak up for the state was a mistaken one, because they still had to comply with the wishes of their non-Sarawak-based party leadership.

ALSO READ: GPS gov't to protect religious freedom, reject extremism, says Abang Johari

As an independent political grouping, GPS could speak freely, agree with decisions that are good for Sarawak and disagree with those that are detrimental, he said at the United Chinese Association Sibu Division Chinese New Year gathering here on Wednesday (Jan 25) night.

In his speech, read by state Women, Early Childhood and Community Development Wellbeing Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdulllah, the Premier said GPS had made significant strides in getting due recognition for Sarawak in the spirit of MA63.

ALSO READ: Fadillah: MA63 rights to be implemented quickly

First, he said, equal status had been reinstated to Sabah and Sarawak with Peninsular Malaysia as parties to the formation of Malaysia.

Other achievements included recovering oil and gas rights leading to the signing of the Commercial Settlement Agreement (CSA) with PETRONAS, recognition of Sarawak's right to charge state sales tax, and deep-sea fishing licensing rights, he added.

ALSO READ: GPS pledges to fight for rights of all Sarawakians

On another note, Abang Johari said Sarawak showed its commitment to caring for the welfare of its people through a number of initiatives.

He said these included: maternity allowance of up to RM450 for nutrition and personal care needs during confinement; the Endowment Fund Sarawak (EFS) of RM1,000 each for children; RM5,000 annual special grant for each childhood education provider; RM2.7mil special assistance to 130 kidney failure patients; the Kenyalang Gold Card for senior citizens; and iSarawakCare, an online resource for information on government assistance.

Among those present at the gathering were Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib.

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