STAR to campaign on Sarawak rights

STAR president Lino Soo (second left) and candidates unveiling the party's election manifesto at a press conference, April 23, 2016. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
STAR president Lino Soo (second left) and candidates unveiling the party's election manifesto at a press conference, April 23, 2016. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, April 23 ― The State Reform Party (STAR) said today that it would campaign in the Sarawak state election for Sarawak to be recognised as an equal partner in the Malaysian federation.

STAR’s newly elected president Lina Soo said the local party’s nine-point election manifesto would focus on Sarawak's rights as contained in the Malaysia Agreement, the 1962 Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and the 18-Point Agreement.

“Sarawak is one of the three equal partners with Malaya and Sabah within the federation of Malaysia, and it is not one of the 13 seats,” Soo told reporters here today.

She said STAR was also campaigning for maximum autonomy to be accorded to Sarawak, including the power to vote on its own laws and the right to collect taxes and retain taxes.

“Sarawak shall be empowered to hold executive and administrative powers, except for defence and foreign affairs which remains under the federal government,” she said.

On territorial seas and marine resources, she said Sarawak should exercise full ownership and control over its oil and gas, fisheries and mineral resources.

Soo said STAR wants the Borneonisation of public services in Sarawak to be fully respected and implemented, as per the IGC Report.

“The state government shall give priority to Sarawakians for state and federalised posts,” she said.

STAR’s manifesto also touched on the formation of land commission and rural reform, languages and education, freedom of religion and transforming Sarawak from third world to a first world state.

Soo also introduced the party’s 12 candidates in the May 7 election, 11 of whom are fresh faces, including two women ― Priscilla Lau (Pelawan) and Mary Ting Yiik Hong (Dudong).

Only its deputy president Mura Kadit stood in Putrajaya in the 2013 general election on a STAR ticket, but lost to Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

“This is the biggest and strongest team that the party has assembled since it was registered in 1996,” Soo said.

“Do not rule out the possibility of our chances winning seats in the May 7 elections,” she said.

She admitted that the party has “not been so active” in the past, but under her leadership, she wanted it to be Sarawak's main local opposition party.

STAR did not contest in the 2011 Sarawak state election, but in the 13th general election, it fielded candidates in seven federal seats which were all won by the ruling BN.

Since its formation 20 years ago, the party has never won seats in either state or parliamentary elections.

“Now that STAR is a reborn party after the election of our new office bearers two weeks ago, I  believe that it has begun to attract broad appeals to the younger generations and Sarawakians fighting to reclaim the state's rights from the federal government.

“Our political slogan is Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S) is well accepted by Sarawakians as a whole,” said Soo, who is also the president of the Sarawak Association for People's Aspirations (SAPA).