Mahathir to address claims he eroded Sarawak’s rights


PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) has gone on the offensive against Barisan Nasional (BN), to deflect allegations that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was instrumental in eroding the state’s rights when he was prime minister, ahead of the PH chairman’s visit to Kuching.

Its publicity chief Vernon Kedit today accused Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the largest component in the ruling state BN, as well as prime ministers from Umno before and after Mahathir for allowing the state’s powers to be curtailed.

“It is PBB and all its parliamentarians past and present, and the chief ministers who were at the helm when these erosions occurred with their full consent who should really apologise to Sarawakians for being in league with Umno in leading Barisan Nasional Sarawak to erode Sarawak’s rights,” he said.

“Historical facts cannot be spun or denied and the Malaysian Parliament’s Hansard is clear for all to peruse,” he added in a statement.

He said Mahathir, who is also PPBM chairman, will address the “false accusations” levelled against him tomorrow evening.

The 92-year old is scheduled to make his first public appearance in Sarawak as a PH leader when he addresses a gathering organised by the coalition in front of the Everrise BDC Complex.

Earlier today, the Borneo Post quoted state minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah as saying that most of Sarawak’s rights enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 were taken away under Mahathir’s rule from 1981 to 2003.

The PBB assemblyman for Asajaya said in apparent mockery that it was good to see the former prime minister coming back to Sarawak to meet the people, as he had hardly done so in the past.

Kedit said the most significant erosion of Sarawak’s rights was the amendment to Article 1(2), which was among 48 alterations to the Federal Constitution under a bill tabled by the then prime minister Hussein Onn on July 12, 1976 and passed by the Dewan Rakyat the next day.

“This essentially downgraded the Territory of Sarawak to the status of ‘negeri’ (state),” Kedit said.

He alleged that the PBB MPs had voted for the amendment, saying it effectively stripped Sarawak of its equal status with the Federation of Malaya and Sabah.

“Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not the prime minister at the time,” he said.

He also said the passing of the Petroleum Resources & Petroleum Development Act 1974 in Parliament had led to a “mega-erosion” of Sarawak’s right to control its own natural resources.

He again alleged that the move was supported by PBB parliamentarians. “Sarawak surrendered 95% of its oil income to the federal government, keeping for ourselves only a meagre 5%,” he said.

“The prime minister then was Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the father of the current prime minister Najib Razak,” he added.

Kedit also said the Territorial Sea Act 2012 was passed in Parliament under Najib, who assumed the prime minister’s post in 2009. He claimed that it was done with the support of PBB parliamentarians.

He said the amendment diminished Sarawak’s maritime authority to three nautical miles (5.5 km) from the coastline.

“Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had already retired by the time,” he said.

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