Karim said those seeking independence for Sarawak can’t be blamed but he does not realise that the widespread unhappiness of Sarawakians is caused by the failure of the Sarawak government leaders 45 years ago
Recently, a GPS Minister, Abdul Kafim Rahman Hamzah, a vice president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (a mainstay of GPS) said that the people who seek independence for Sarawak cannot be blamed for such sentiments, in view of the record of lot state rights but he did not realise that the widespread unhappiness of Sarawakians is caused by the failure of the Sarawak government leaders 45 years ago.
This is why I am interrupting my campaigning for DAP and Pakatan Harapan candidates in the Sarawak state general election and returning to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow as Parliament will be debating and voting the 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill to undo 45 years of injustice to Sarawak (and Sabah) caused by the 1976 Constitution Amendment Bill which was passed by Parliament on 13th July 1976 by 130 votes in support and nine votes in opposition.
All the leaders of Sarawak Barisan Nasional (the predecessors of GPS) voted in support of the 1976 Constitution Amendment bill which reduced Sarawak (and Sabah) from one of the three territories together with Malaya to form Malaysia to one of the 13 states of Malaysia.
The nine Opposition votes all came from the DAP MPs at the time.
This event proved that the DAP was right and ahead of the times, and was more protective of the rights and interests of Sarawak than the Sarawak government leaders, as those who voted in support of the 1976 Constitution Amendment Bill were Sarawak government leaders like Abdul Rahman Yaacob Taib Mahmud, Ong Kee Hui, Stephen Yong, Edmund Langgu, Patrick Uren and Luhat Wan.
Abdul Karim said Sarawakians, in general, were proud to be Malaysians and appreciate their forefathers’ move in leading the state to join Malaya, Sabah and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963.
He said: “But at the time, there were certain things that were very close to us, certain rights which we negotiated for, that throughout the years, have slowly diminished.”
Such rights included oil and gas royalties, the state’s entitlement to one-third of parliamentary seats, and rights over matters such as tourism that were not included in the list of matters under federal purview.
Karim said that regardless of whether there was malice by any party over the erosion of Sarawak’s rights, the reality was that certain leaders in the past had done things that were “not right”, and this was why the state was now pushing for the return of the rights.
He said the unequal development between West Malaysia and East Malaysia was a sore point for many, especially those who have seen the advanced stage of development in the Peninsula.
The 1976 Constitution Amendment Bill, which all the Sarawak government leaders supported resulting in 130 votes in agreement but which the DAP opposed with our nine votes, is the original cause for the unequal development between West Malaysia and East Malaysia.
I agree with Abdul Karim that Sarawakians have a right to demand equitable sharing of resources so that Malaysia and all states of Malaysia develop together.
There is nothing wrong for Sarawak to demand that its rights to development be returned, but the people must realise that the unhappiness of Sarawakians from 1976 to 2018 was due to the failures and negligence of the federal as well as the Sarawak government leaders.
In 2019, the Pakatan Harapan Government tried to undo the injustices of unequal development between West Malaysia and Sarawak caused by the 1976 Constitution Amendment and restore to Sarawak and Sabah the status of two of three regions together Malaya which formed Malaysia and not two of the 13 Malaysian states but this was move was defeated by the opposition of the GPS Members of Parliament who did not support it. Otherwise, this process of restoration of the development rights of Sarawak would have started from 2019 and not more than two years later from tomorrow.
We have wasted more than two years and we should not waste any more time, and that is why I rushing back to KL tomorrow to ensure that there is two-thirds parliamentary majority which is necessary for the 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill to be passed.