Not so easy for Sarawak to leave Malaysia, says Baru Bian

Works Minister Baru Bian launches the Pan Borneo Dashboard, which monitors the progress of the Pan Borneo Highway project on a real-time basis, in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has rejected the idea of the state leaving Malaysia, saying it is “legally difficult” to secede.

However, he said it was the choice of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) if it wanted to take Sarawak out of the federation.

“It is legally difficult but that is my opinion. It will not be that simple,” he said, adding that there was no law to allow the state to pull out.

The works minister was responding to a suggestion by Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth for GPS to hold a referendum on the state’s future in Malaysia.

SUPP Youth secretary Milton Foo said yesterday the ruling coalition should set a time-frame for its negotiations with Putrajaya for equal status.

In the event the negotiations failed, he said a referendum should be held to gather the people’s views on whether they wanted to remain in Malaysia or leave.

Commenting on Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that Sarawak would go bankrupt in three years, Baru acknowledged that the phrase used by Lim was inappropriate.

“You can say it is a ‘deficit’ in terms of accounting. Maybe, it was a wrong choice of word,” he said.

At a Sarawak DAP fund-raising dinner in Kuching last week, Lim said the state might end up bankrupt in three years under GPS.

He said that Sarawak’s RM30 billion reserves would run out in three years with its annual budget of RM11 billion.

Lim’s claim was swiftly rebutted by GPS leaders who questioned his sense of accounting because the projected budget for this year is actually a surplus of RM122 million.

Pan Borneo Highway

Baru also said the federal government would only know the exact completion date of the Pan Borneo Highway once it took over the project in September.

He said the government was allowing the contractors to carry on with the project until the expiry of the notice at the end of September.

He hoped that any compensation disputes, including land possession, still pending in court would be settled as soon as possible.

“Recently, there were complaints of unpaid claims. The complainants have direct access to me and I am willing to look into their claims,” he said after launching the Pan Borneo Dashboard here today.

The dashboard allows the agencies involved to monitor the progress of the project on a real-time basis without having to be physically present.