The return of Full Autonomy expected to dominate imminent state elections in Sarawak.
KUCHING: Sarawak4Sarawakians (S4S), the NGO promoting the return of Full Autonomy to the state, has announced that it has managed to secure the signatures of 10 per cent of the local population within three months. “We have 300 signature books full and that amounts to 300,000 signatures,” said S4S Chief Peter John Jaban who was once a fugitive in the UK as a political refugee. “That means that Full Autonomy must be part of the quest for all political parties in the coming state elections due by the middle of this year.”
He was confirming that the signature collecting exercise was over. “No more signatures are being collected after 31 December 2015. We don’t need any more signatures.”
“Our team of volunteers have been working day and night to collect the signatures. I salute them. Even now, they are keying in the data.”
Jaban qualified his statement on the 300,000 figure by adding that all signatures would be verified to ensure that they are genuine. “We don’t want anyone to turn around and claim that our figure is inaccurate and doesn’t reflect the actual situation.”
“Signatures without IC numbers, with IC numbers which don’t compute, and duplicate signatures, will be removed from the register and final figure. At the moment, we are recording the unofficial figure at 270,000.”
Jaban confirmed that Sarawakians with green ICs (temporary residents) will not be included in the final tally. ‘It’s unfortunate but it’s something that’s beyond our control.”
“The National Registration Department (NRD) should get its act together on green ICs in Sarawak. How can they issue temporary residence ICs to genuine Sarawakians?”
Jaban assured that the estimated 300,000 signatures include Orang Asal and Orang Laut (Sarawak Malay) who signed up in the closing weeks of the campaign. “Earlier, they hesitated and didn’t want to sign without the community leaders giving the go ahead.”
Jaban did not want to hazard a guess on the number of Orang Asal and Orang Laut who signed up but expressed confidence they made up the majority.
Delving into the brief history of S4S, Jaban recalled that the movement had been growing for the past decade. “It started with a handful of people campaigning for the recognition of 16 September 1963 as Malaysia Day.”
“Then, we managed to get the Sarawak Government to recognize 22 July 1963 as Independence Day, also known as Liberation Day and Freedom Day.”
Jaban pointed out that the Sarawak Assembly passing unanimous motions on the oil and gas resources of the state and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as high points last year. ” In fact, Full Autonomy is already in the MA63.”
“So, it’s not so much a matter of regaining Full Autonomy but the Sarawak Government exercising it.”
The people, continued Jaban, don’t have to ask for something which already belongs to them. “It’s their right.”
While Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem talks about Full Autonomy, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has conceded that the Sabah and Sarawak Governments need more powers.”
“What they can do, we will let them do. It’s not necessary that we have to do everything in Putrajaya.”
Najib has since explained that the Federal Government will place more Federal Departments under the control of locals or hand over such Departments to the control of the Sabah and Sarawak Governments. He calls the process devolution.
Adenan sees Full Autonomy as that spelt out in MA63 , the Federal Government to confine itself in Sabah and Sarawak to defence, internal security and foreign affairs.