Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan was at the Kota Kinabalu airport to welcome Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Sept 17.
presence raised eyebrows but he said that he was there as he was hoping
the prime minister would have an announcement about Malaysia Agreement
1963 (MA63). “So, we went with the hope of some good news but
ended up very disappointed”, he said, adding that he also felt let-down
that the prime minister’s Malaysia Day speech in Kuching contained “no
goodies” for Sabah or Sarawak. Mahathir was on a one-day visit to Sabah.
Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee also said he was curious to know
what Mahathir discussed with state leaders on Tuesday. “It is only right if the Sabah government tells us what was discussed during the meeting,” he was quoted by The Star as saying. The disappointment of Sabah leaders is also shared by many Sarawakians. What is truly sad is that Sabah and Sarawak seem to be dependent on leaders in Malaya for “good news”.
For too long, our legs are tied in such a way that the only position
possible is to kneel, as if to beg for Putrajaya for “goodies”.
was not what Tunku Abdul Rahman told us when he enticed Sabah and
Sarawak to help form Malaysia in 1963. No, we have not forgotten the
many promises made 56 years ago. Sabah and Sarawak were promised
‘heaven’ but given ‘hell’. This is the general expression coming from
many pro-referendum or independence groups in the Borneo territories
today. And understandably so.
We were supposed to be equal
partners but now, we have turned into beggars. Hopefully, that would not
be for long as the Borneo territories are blessed with all that they
need without having to beg. In recent times, the list is too
long for me to detail the many Pakatan Harapan’s unfulfilled promises to
the people. The disappointment of Malaysians is not difficult to
Sabahans and Sarawakians, the cries of disappointment and
disillusionment are growing louder by the day. Not a day passes without
someone commenting on social media of the unfair treatment, perceived or
otherwise, Sabah and Sarawak had been receiving from Malaya over the
past half a century.
Leaders of the new Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK)
have been most vocal, declaring that their party would enter the coming
Sarawak election on only a single cause – independence for Sarawak. Last
week, Sarawak received another damper, this time coming from Finance
Minister Lim Guan Eng. He explained that Putrajaya was unable to fulfil
its promises of 20 per cent royalty from oil and gas because of its
massive debt inherited from BN. He blamed it on “BN’s legacy”.
I think we have heard this Harapan’s excuse all too often, so much so that it has become unbearable and intolerable. Isn’t this yet another case of Sarawak being promised ‘heaven’ but given ‘hell’? I
have one important question for our finance minister and his Harapan
colleagues: Was the Harapan manifesto going into GE14 created by the
previous BN government? Surely, Harapan must be aware of the BN’s
huge debt, even then. That being so, why make empty promises to the
people, including to Sabahans and Sarawakians.
Lim has to put on his thinking cap and come up with more solid reasons
for not fulfilling Harapan promises. We are tired of listening to the
unending moans on 1MDB. As the late Sarawak chief minister Adenan
Satem had said, “1MDB has nothing to do with Sarawak and we don’t wish
to talk about it. It took place in Malaya and that is Malaya’s problem
to resolve. Please don’t bring it to Sarawak."
Another issue which I took exception to over this past year was the repair of dilapidated schools in Sarawak. Again,
the finance minister came up with the same excuse, only this time with
an added twist that Sarawak has to repay its loan to the federal
wonder whether Putrajaya is concerned at all for the thousands of
students in rural Sarawak who have to suffer in squalor just to ensure
they receive an education. I am not interested in who is right or
wrong in this case; what I want to see is that pressing and urgent
matters, especially involving education of our children, are resolved
Putrajaya’s loan to Sarawak (another BN’s legacy)
is a separate issue which has zero bearing on providing schools in good
condition to children in Sarawak. The onus is on Putrajaya to fulfil its responsibility as education is a federal matter. Perhaps,
the Sarawak government should seriously consider education autonomy.
This would then enable Putrajaya to wash its hands off education matters
I believe Sarawak is able to handle education just
fine on her own. We also do not need unnecessary and silly policies like
perpetuating a “medan dakwah”, black shoes and a fun calligraphy
subject. Just fulfil the 20 per cent oil and gas royalty to
Sarawak and we can manage education matters on our own. There will also
be no more quarrels the next time we need to repair our rundown schools
the oil royalty for Sabah and Sarawak, the finance minister’s statement
seemed to indicate that Malaysia would not be able to survive without
oil and gas from the Borneo territories.
In other words, Lim is
telling Sabahans and Sarawakians that Putrajaya needs the revenue from
oil and gas from their territories to finance other priorities. They
promised 20 per cent but only retained five per cent. Now Sarawakians
are asking why fight for only 20 per cent when 100 per cent belongs to
Sarawakians must be longing for the day to dawn when they
could have 100 per cent of everything that their homeland is blessed
with, without having to share with a peninsula across the South China
Sea. That is my message to Putrajaya and we wish that ministers like Lim would chew on it. Finally,
to my dear friends in Sabah, Jeffrey and Yong in particular, I don’t
think it’s necessary to wait in the long queue to receive the grand old
man at the Kota Kinabalu airport next time.
We don’t need to beg for what rightfully belongs to us.