Lip-service DPM from Sabah, Sarawak won’t do, Putrajaya told

The Sabah legislative assembly building in Kota Kinabalu. There has been a proposal to appoint a Sabahan or Sarawakian as a deputy prime minister under the new Muhyiddin Yassin government. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: An indigenous people’s group here welcomed the proposal that a Sabahan or Sarawakian be made the deputy prime minister, but warned that this does not mean the allegiance of the two partners of the Malaysian federation can be “bought”.

Solidarity Anak Sabah Sarawak (SASS), a movement in support of self-determination, said having a DPM from either state deserves merit.

Its co-founder Andrew Atama Ambrose however said ultimately, it would be pointless if the appointed person is only subservient to the federal government at the end of the day.

“Why should a Sabahan or Sarawakian not be given equal consideration to be a DPM if they have the skills and abilities required? But it is a simplistic solution to a much bigger issue.

“Someone given a DPM post must not be a ‘comprador’ (agent) in Sabah and Sarawak for the federal government.

“Don’t expect our allegiance to be bought for such a small consideration. The rights of the Sabah and Sarawak people are significantly more important than a DPM position for a solitary politician,” he told FMT.

A Sarawak PAS leader had yesterday suggested to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to consider offering a Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) or a Sabah leader the deputy prime minister’s post.

He said this would give the Borneo leaders more power to ensure the states’ constitutional rights were returned to them.

PBB also said that GPS should be offered positions in the new federal Cabinet.

Ambrose said the entire balance of power among the three territories of Malaysia must first be put right before this lone voice as DPM could hope to stand up for Borneo.

Otherwise, he said, it would only be mere lip service to the representation of the Borneo people in the national political landscape.

Andrew Atama Ambrose

“Over the last week, the Borneon states, in particular, have watched the unfolding drama in which they had had little say and which, ultimately, would bring little change to their position.

“Therefore, we renew our calls for the new government to get back to work on devolution of powers to the Borneon states so that we can enjoy the right to self-determination, as originally intended under the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” he said.

Ambrose added that in considering the DPM post, the federal government should respect the inalienable rights of every Sabahan and Sarawakian, regardless of the politician they picked for the post.

“It must put the people’s interests and MA63 before anything else.”

Meanwhile, political analyst Lee Kuok Tiung is of the opinion that returning the rights to Sabah and Sarawak should take precedence over any DPM post.

“Naming a Sarawakian or Sabahan as DPM will not ease the demands from people in both states to fully deliver on what is in the MA63,” he said.

He added that giving equal status, providing oil and gas rights, and bringing greater development to Sabah and Sarawak were among the greater priorities.

The Universiti Malaysia Sabah senior lecturer said GPS had mentioned many times previously that federal Cabinet posts are secondary to them.

Lee said GPS had played an important role during last week’s political impasse.

“When PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and (former PM) Dr Mahathir Mohamad were neck and neck at 93-96 (in the number of MPs supporting them as PM), GPS knew that it’ll be the kingmaker as they have 18 seats and Warisan only nine.

“Their support was conditional and it was all about Sarawak’s rights. Cabinet positions did not figure in discussions,” he said.