Yes, Sarawak’s PH leaders ‘playing safe’, says analyst

An analyst says the government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad seems not interested in pursuing Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

KUCHING: A political analyst says there is some truth in a Sarawak politician’s claim that local Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders in the state have been “playing safe” in key matters related to Sarawak’s demand for equal treatment from Putrajaya.

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said PH leaders in Sarawak have largely remained silent, and questioned whether they were more concerned with their political positions.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Youth chief Michael Tiang recently said that the Sarawak DAP had remained silent although Putrajaya had treated the state unfairly.

He cited the appointment of a West Malaysian as chairman of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) without consulting the state government, the relocation of the High Court registry from Sarawak to Sabah, the ongoing dispute with Putrajaya over oil and gas, and the issue of dilapidated schools.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

“Has Sarawak DAP said anything? Nothing. These are all in Sarawak’s interests but yet it has kept quiet,” he had said.

Awang Azman said the federal ruling coalition appears to be not in a position to resolve issues concerning Sarawak.

“How would you expect it (PH) to fulfil its promise to give 20% oil royalty to Sabah and Sarawak if its leaders are still disputing over a successor to the prime minister and the transfer of power?”

He said, similarly, the negotiations on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) seemed to have reached a dead-end.

“It is as though the prime minister had closed all doors for deliberation when Putrajaya decided not to give the 20% oil royalty to Sabah and Sarawak, as stated in the PH election manifesto,” he said.

Awang Azman said there were also complaints that PH failed to fulfil its own promise to allocate 30% development expenditure for Sabah and Sarawak, instead giving both states 17.1% of the total development expenditure of RM56 billion in the 2020 Budget.

“This shows that PH shows less concern with the development of Sarawak,” he added.

Awang Azman said the growing disenchantment among Sarawakians with Putrajaya is real.

He said a recent survey by the Merdeka Center confirmed this.

The survey showed dissatisfaction with the government among Sabahans and Sarawakians had grown from 33% in 2018 to 60% last year.