KUCHING: Unity in Malaysia is unfortunately one between unequal partners, lamented Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim Kui Han, saying it can only be addressed with greater autonomy for Sarawak.
Speaking to FMT in an exclusive interview, Sim said Sarawak had lost out on much of the progress that the other states in Malaysia had achieved.
“After forming Malaysia for so many years, our schools are still falling into the rivers, our houses in the kampungs still have no running water, and our roads are full of problems.
“(Other states in) Malaysia, on the other hand, have experienced tremendous progress. We (Sarawak) joined as partners but, unfortunately, lost out,” said the Barisan Nasional component chief.
This was why the state government is now seriously studying the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) which was signed jointly by Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and the UK, he said.
“The original spirit of so many things in the MA63 has been diluted in the name of national unity but it’s a national unity of unequal partners.
“We are not asking for more but we don’t expect any less than what we were promised.”
However, for state Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah, Sarawak is already well on the road to securing greater autonomy.
This is especially after the tremendous victory the state BN delivered in last year’s Sarawak election, he said.
The 72 out of the 82 state seats they secured, under former Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem’s campaign promise of greater autonomy, had shown the federal government that this is not an issue to be taken lightly, he added.
“There are lots of good indications that we are getting favourable responses from the federal government.
“I’m just waiting for the chief minister to make some announcements,” he said, referring to new Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.
“The federal government is now ever ready to sit down and discuss matters concerning the state.
“The chief minister recently announced the formation of a gas company for Sarawak, with the understanding from Petronas and others. This thing would have been unheard of just three or four years ago.”
Abang Johari had last weekend revealed that the Sarawak government would be sending a team of lawyers to London to search and study any references related to the state’s rights under the MA63.
“Indeed, we will continue with Tok Nan’s (Adenan) efforts to restore our rights as embodied in the Malaysia Agreement,” he had said.