Najib’s ‘two conditions’ for Sarawak are beyond the pale by Francis Paul Siah
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | So Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has set two conditions for Sarawakians if they want their rights returned. In a report appearing in The Star on Dec 24, the prime
minister was quoted as saying that Putrajaya had no problem discussing
devolution of power and returning all eroded constitutional rights to
Sarawak, provided that those in the state met two conditions. “Firstly, there should be no talk of secession. The second red line is that the people must support BN. “If you support BN, why shouldn’t I give back those rights, which
have been knowingly or unknowingly taken from Sarawak?” Najib told a
Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) delegates conference.
As a Sarawakian patriot, let me make this declaration here: much as I
respect you as the prime minister, Najib, I am unable to accept your
two conditions. This is a simple reason why. I think it is very wrong, if not downright absurd, to set terms and
conditions to return what belongs to Sarawak in the first place. Hey, we have an agreement in place, the Malaysia Agreement 1963
(MA63). The terms of the agreement should have been respected and
honoured. Who “stole” them from Sarawakians in the first place?
In a court of law, a thief caught and found guilty would be punished
accordingly. Here, we have a condition where the thief has the gumption
to set conditions for the return of what was stolen. It doesn’t take a genius to sense that something is simply not right here. I’m not sure how the SUPP members present at the conference felt
after Najib’s speech. It would be unfair to condemn them all as obedient
Umno-BN stooges because I do have many dear friends in SUPP who can be
very vocal about BN policies which are deemed to not be in the best
interests of Sarawakians.
Perhaps, there were red faces in the house that day, I’m not sure. If
there were none among the many professionals in the party, then I can
only wish SUPP good luck for the future. On the prime minister’s first condition – no talk of secession, I
think it is plain stupidity to gag people from saying what is in their
hearts and minds. Excuse me, is there no freedom of speech in this country? Or is it true now that there is no freedom after speech?
I’m aware that a small cross-section of Sarawakians has been talking
about secession. Why would they do that? Secession would be the last
thing on the minds of happy and contented citizens. Caring and responsible government leaders would have taken pains to
find out why some Sarawakians are so unhappy being in Malaysia, and then
take action to stem the tide of dissatisfaction and disgruntlement. That is the right and appropriate action to take. Not gagging them.
Referendum calls growing louder
In any case, as many times as teachers tell their students not to talk in class, some will continue to do so. Najib is not in sync with the current “Sarawakian patriotism” fervour
if he thinks that playing the role of the class teacher will halt
secession talk. It is true that the cries of a referendum are growing louder in
Sarawak. This is an area worth exploring further, and I honestly feel
that a “thinking government” should give this a shot, although I doubt a
referendum will ever be allowed. Look at the UK, the supposed bastion of democracy. Scotland went
through a referendum, the majority decided to stay in the UK, and that
was it. Nothing untoward happened during the referendum process or
Of course, Malaya will never want Sarawak and Sabah to leave. That
being the case, then do your best to make Sarawakians and Sabahans
happy, contented and satisfied. Then they would never think of
secession. On Najib’s second condition – that the people must support BN, I have to say that this borders on the ridiculous. Has the prime minister forgotten that the people of Sarawak have been supporting BN for the past 54 years?
Is Najib telling Sarawakians that supporting BN for more than five
decades does not count; only voting for BN in GE14 is valid in his
books? How ridiculous is that? As Najib is a known Manchester United fan, let me attempt this analogy. Assuming Najib owns United, and before a United-Chelsea clash at Old
Trafford, he sets a condition for Chelsea fans – you are not allowed
into the stadium, even with tickets, if you don’t support United.
Imagine how Blues fans would react. I believe I speak for many of my fellow Sarawakians when I say this to him.
Dear Najib, let me remind you that our late chief minister, Adenan
Satem, started negotiating with you on MA63 in 2014. That’s three long
years. What’s the progress so far? If you have nothing to show us after three years, then what guarantee
do we have five years after GE14? Is this just another round of empty
talk and hollow soundbites from a desperate prime minister?
Actually, you are known as an intellectual and a very bright person,
but given the desperate situation you are in now, you have goofed once
too often. In some ways, I truly sympathise with you. Please be respectfully informed that many Sarawakians think that you
are the most unpopular prime minister in Malaysian history, and there is
very little respect left for you in this fair land. So please don’t come to Sarawak and lecture us, and force things down
our throats as if we, Sarawakians, are kindergarten kiddies. Your two
conditions are plain silly and childish. Here’s hoping that you will withdraw them.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org