Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sarawak Sovereignty Movement demands full autonomy

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sarawak Sovereignty Movement demands full autonomy

A movement, rumoured to be backed by the powerful in Sarawak, is demanding for full autonomy in the state based on the 18-point Malaysia Agreement.

KOTA KINABALU: A new civil movement from Sarawak, calling themselves Sarawak Sovereignty Movement (SSM), is demanding full autonomy for the state.

The movement which was launched in April 2013, posted its schedule of demands for autonomy on its website and Facebook account, backing its claims with details of Sarawak’s history.

According to SSM secretary, Lina Soo, full autonomy sums up all the terms and conditions for Sarawak (and for Sabah too) agreeing to form Malaysia with three other independent countries as equal partners being Malaya, Singapore and North Borneo (Sabah) in 1963.

“Brunei in its wisdom decided not to follow the crowd because Malaya did not agree to accord it ‘equal partnership’ status,” said Soo.

Singapore, she said pulled out in 1965 also after failed to to get federal to accept it as an equal partner.

“The original Malaysia concept of five countries (including Brunei) had dwindled into three countries in Malaysia.

“The concept was dead. The legitimacy of Malaysia is therefore in doubt,” she said in a statement to FMT here.

According to Soo, Sarawak’s autonomous status was spelt out clearly in the 18 Points Agreement with Malaya.

“These were safeguards for Sarawak having given up its independence and agreeing to form Malaysia.

“Sarawak reserved its sovereign right to control its own immigration, finance and resources and requirement for ‘Borneonisation’ among other important conditions Sarawak’s sovereignty was recognized- at least on paper,” she reminded.

However, the Malaysian federal government’s failure to honour the terms of the Malaysia Agreement for the past 50 years is evidenced by the pillage of their resources and centralisation of control over the two states/countries.

“The Kuala Lumpur control and exploitation of Sarawak oil has seen very little oil money flowing back to Sarawak but seen as being siphoned to develop Malaya.

“With the growing awareness of Sarawak’s diminished and disadvantaged position after giving up its independence to form Malaysia, a new generation of Sarawakians have begun agitating for Sarawak independence rights,” she said.

‘Deviations invite trouble’

SSM, she said, is of the opinion that the Malayan government is contented that Sarawak and Sabah freely agreed to form Malaysia and they are forever a part of Malaysia.

“(But) many in the two countries now are asking if Sarawak and Sabah freely made such a decision, then they are free to leave Malaysia like Singapore,” she claimed.

SSM which is helmed by Morshidi Abdul Rahman, was first given publicity in Sarawak newspapers last month but hardly mentioned in other media.

He reportedly asserted that Sarawak is a sovereign nation – a territorial and constitutional entity – that has power to vote on its own laws, collect taxes and the right to own its natural resources.

Meanwhile, a leader from ruling Sarawak Barisan Nasional has warned Sarawakians not to deviate from the original concept of Malaysia.

Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who was also a former parliament deputy speaker, when asked for his opinion on SSM, said Sarawakians must refrain from divisive politics.

“We have our constitution – the supreme law of the nation, with which act and work. Do not stray from original concept of the Federation…,” Wan Junaidi said, adding that “deviations invite troubles”.

His double-edged statement has lent credence to certain local speculations that SSM is backed by “the powerful” in Sarawak who also seek to strengthen its autonomy, not to fall prey to a scheming central power that seeks to weaken Malaysia’s largest state, like it did to Sabah.

Sabah and Sarawak are regarded to be nations-within-a nation as both have autonomous rights granted to them in laws, written in pre-Malaysia conditions and also in other treaties and documents including in the Federal and State constitutions.

The clamour for full autonomy in both Borneon states had recently increased due to the high awareness of disparity in income and development between them and the 11 Peninsular states which they accused of “stealing” the states’ rich for Malaya’s own exploitation.

Ironically, both Sabah and Sarawak, while endowed naturally to be Malaysia’s richest, have ended at the bottom-end of Malaysia’s poorest states, 50 years after agreeing to form a Federation with Malaya.

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