When Tunku Abdul Rahman wanted to form Malaysia, Tunku on 27 May, 1961 when in Singapore, wanted Sarawak to be included in his Malaysia Proposal. Why Tunku had wanted Sarawak to be in his Malaysia Plan? Was it because Sarawak was rich with land, oil and timber resources? Was it because Malaya wanted to help develop Sarawak, who was very much backward than Malaya?
When Malaysia was born, Ningkan then on 22 July 1963 became the first chief minister of Sarawak and had wanted “Sarawak for the Sarawakians”. Ningkan was a disobedient servant of the federal government led by UMNO, a party whose command, you must not oppose, saw Ningkan in trouble.
Ningkan, although a native, but, had the heart of the Chinese, malays and all Malaysian races, declared that, “……all Malaysians are sons of the soil. In the role of nation building, no one needs to be reminded constantly of one’s racial origin……..”
Not only the dayaks, the Chinese in Sarawak also liked Ningkan for his multiracialism Malaysia, but, the then federal government leaders were hurt because being a native, Nigkan also refused to promote Malay as the national language in the state. His preference was for English, a language, although taught by the colonists, was acceptable to all Sarawakians, which language also was seen by Sarawakians as a global language in which no other Malaysian languages could replace. Ningkan was then unceremoniously removed as the chief minister of Sarawak when the federal government led by Tun Razak, the father of our famous Datuk Seri Najib, who recently became more famous because of Altuntuuya’s case, flexed its muscle in mid-June, 1966 demanded under Article 7(1) of the Sarawak Constitution, that Ningkan has to resign. This brought the state into a constitutional crisis.
In a Dewan Rakyat sitting, a political leader in Sarawak was heard to say, “How alarming it is to find the extent to which UMNO in Kuala Lumpur would go – to even topple the [Ningkan] government headed by an Iban who happened to hold non-racial views……….. is Sarawak a colony…….in Malaysia? (the full text of this politician’s speech was published in the Sarawak Tribune on 31 May 1963).
The fear to oppose the federal government was always there afterwards and Sarawak politicians, especially, those in the BN seemed to talk a lot outside, but, were always very quiet in Parliament. In some issues, these BN politicians also dared not even to whisper in coffee shops and many were also seldom seen mixing around with the kaki lima people for fear of being asked their stand on certain issues affecting the people of Sarawak.
We need now examine what that politician said in parliament, “…is Sarawak a colony……..in Malaysia?”
Sarawak helped Malaysia to develop and was always behind the federal government in whatever crisis the nation was facing. When the alliance government led by UMNO did not have the two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution, a Sarawak political party on 11 February, 1977 came to its rescue by joining the federal government. With this, the federal government hurriedly amended the Federal Constitution which effectively sealed the mouths of Malaysians to speak on issues considered sensitive, such as grants for scholarships, permits or licences, reservation of places in the public service and citizenship rights granted to immigrants and the control of or reservation of educational opportunities in educational institutions.
But the amendments and some provisions of the Federal Constitution, do not accord “special position” of natives to Ibans and Bidayuhs, although they are the undisputed largest indigenous races in Sarawak, as they are not categorized as “native” under Article 161A(7) of the Federal Constitution. Therefore, the safeguard of the special position allowed to natives under Article 153 read with Article 153(9A) of the Federal Constitution is not available to the Ibans and Bidayuhs although other indigenous races such as kayans, kelabits, kenyahs, kedayans, punans, lisums, malays and melanos, etc., are natives of Sarawak. No little wonder that I used to receive complaints from the Ibans and Bidayuhs in Sarawak that there are only three recognizable races are found in Malaysia, that is, Malays, Chinese and Indians and others. Who are the others? How could NEP had benefited the Ibans and Bidayuhs, then, when the Federal Constitution does not recognize them?
I had also look in the Kuching High Court Library the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance for the definition of the word, “native” and could not find the definition to include Land Dayaks and Sea Dayaks, but only those races aforesaid mentioned in Article 161A of the Federal Constitution, although these races, Land Dayaks and Sea Dayaks appeared in the Federal Constitution. It seems that these two races, Land Dayaks and Sea Dayaks are non-existent races of Sarawak!
So this much was what the federal leaders knew about Sarawak! Maybe, they knew, but, had wanted it that way.
From then on after the Federal Constitution was amended, the UMNO led government in Malaysia was able to dictate Sarawak rights with little or no opposition at all.
With the control of Parliament, the federal government then passed the Petroleum Development Act 1974, which saw almost all oil and gas revenues went to the federal government and Sarawak until now, only got a paltry 5% of the royalty back. So, West Malaysia wanted oil, Sarawak also gave them oil and also money. Until today no BN politician from Sarawak dared to speak for more oil royalty outside or inside Parliament. What Sarawak wants is more oil money for the state. As I had said just now, the fear of the federal government was too fresh and great after the sacking of Ningkan. With the oil and gas money from Sarawak, West Malaysia had become a rapidly developed part of Malaysia, with huge international airports, federal complexes, smooth fast lane highways, public universities and hospitals with state-of-art life saving equipments and facilities. Oil and gas from Sarawak also helped their factories and cars moving, leaving Sarawak a backward state with still many too many places inaccessible by roads, but, by airplanes as if all Sarawakians are millionaires!
While Malaysia prospered steadily since Malaysia was formed which also saw West Malaysia enjoyed many cheaper goods, but, Sarawak was let to enjoy goods at prices very much expensive than in West Malaysia, because Parliament controlled by UMNO did not give a thought to have a National Pricing Act. We can earn RM10-00 a day in Sarawak, the same amount that a brother West Malaysian may earn in West Malaysia, but, ours here that RM10-00 is just nice for breakfast for two, while, in West Malaysia, our brother West Malaysian could still “ta pau” to office after breakfast with his wife or girlfriend!.
In longhouses and rural areas, the poor malays, chinese and natives were just hoping that God would be kind enough to them that they not fall sick, otherwise, if sick, the only fast mode to hospitals are by helicopters! Wah! Helicopters! How to afford this when most of those in the rural areas could not even afford generators for their electricity!
Talking about electricity, I have Bakun, in mind. To further speed up the pace of development in West Malaysia and to realize Vision 2020, the federal government wanted Bakun be sped up so that West Malaysia would benefit from the power supply from Bakun. A mammoth dam had been built and progressing well, but, if one day God wants this Bakun dam to break or earthquake like in China to happen, many people in Sarawak will die and their families, friends and relatives will live their lives in sorrow in the remembrance of the dead. The federal government may just send aids and some help, but, no amount of money can buy back the sorrows of Sarawakians if this were to happen.
Therefore, when West Malaysia wanted electricty power, we will supply them through Bakun, but, they have Tenaga Bhd., a very much bigger and powerful electricity supplier than in Sarawak. Why the federal government don't want to build their own Bakun and with the expertise and resources Tenaga Bhd has, supply power to Sarawak and our brother state, Sabah? If they are scared that the dam may one day collapse by the will of God, then, Sarawak people also do have that fear. Why push the fear to Sarawakians?
When a BN component political party in West Malaysia some years ago had internal squabbles and when the late Tun Gaffar Baba, the master mediator, failed to resolve the crisis, it was to Sarawakians that West Malaysia people turned to. I was told, two famous sons of Sarawak were called in to assist solved the political crisis, but, yet Sarawakians had not so much been considered in terms of projects by the federal government. The gratitude for Sarawak help seems not there.
Instead, on the other hand, many West Malaysian businessmen and companies could flock and were allowed to seek prosperity and wealth in Sarawak when Sarawak companies and businessmen had already found the goings tough. When the Rajahs and the British were in Sarawak, economic resources in Sarawak were colonial properties, but, now what happened to our resources and opportunities with the influx of West Malaysians grabbing business opportunities and competing with Sarawakians?
In the civil service, sons of the soils of Sarawak were also been deprived of the jobs and promotions with “expatriates” coming up and down the lifts of Bangunan Sultan Iskandar!
Now, when the nation is facing food and rice shortage, it is to Sarawak that Malaysia has to turn to – plant padi and other food crops, but, who will plant? Sarawakians to plant the padi or people from West Malaysia to plant? If West Malaysians and their companies come here to plant, land be given to them or just leased out? If huge chunks of Sarawak lands be given to West Malaysians, this again, will deprive Sarawakians of their natural property and Sarawakians will find themselves squeeze out.
If such lands have to go for padi and food crop plantations, our land policy will have to change and relevant laws may probably be amended to suit these developments because most lands near to civilization are native lands, which presently have no titles. Without titles to stamp their rights on, these natives may find themselves in endless woos with the authorities and companies when their lands be encroached for these developments.
When our national carrier was in trouble, sick with debts, the federal government also had to come to Sarawak for rescue. In Sarawak, the federal government discovered in the highlands of Borneo in Baram, the “gem”, Idris Jala, to revive the fortune of the Malaysia Airline System (MAS), who, prior to that many complained as, “Mana Ada Sistem (MAS)? Now, we can proudly say, “Malaysia Ada Sarawak!”. That is, when in trouble, Malaysia has Sarawak to look forward for help!.
Now, with our national car, Proton, very sick, with loss of RM590.448 millions in debts a year ago,(see The Borneo Post Saturday June 28, 2008) the federal government may also wish to look forward to Sarawak to cure the cancer in the organization from the brink of winding-up. Its scaring when the Proton Managing Director, Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin revealed the cancer, that is, poor quality of cars, with failures in power windows, doors and alarm systems and that poor quality component parts accounted to about 60% of the defects in proton cars. Watch out! How safe is your car? No wonder, proton cars were easy targets by thieves.
On top of that to strength UMNO and BN, Sarawak never failed since Malaysia was formed, to deliver almost clean sweep of all Parliamentary seats each time there was a General Election.
So, Malaysia, when you are in trouble, Sarawak are always behind you, but, are we a colony state? Please answer us!