Not tough to deal with Putrajaya for state’s rights, says Sarawak CM

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg (seated, 2nd left) with members of the media and state ministers in Kuching July 31, 2018. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg (seated, 2nd left) with members of the media and state ministers in Kuching July 31, 2018. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, July 31 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said he does not think it is difficult for the state government to reclaim the state’s rights from Putrajaya, although both state and federal governments are now ruled by different political coalitions.

He said he does not see it as tough to deal with the federal government ruled by Pakatan Harapan (PH) while Sarawak is governed by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

He said negotiations for the return of the rights can be conducted in a conducive atmosphere as both state and federal governments believe in upholding the rule of law.

“Therefore, for us to get those rights, we have to go to the rule of laws, that is, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Federal Constitution and State Constitution,” he said when answering a question during a media session in conjunction with his 18 months in office as chief minister since January 13, 2017, taking over from Pehin Seri Adenan Satem who died of heart complications two days earlier.

The chief minister said that MA63, Federal Constitution and State Constitution are the documents that the state government will be relying upon to get back the state’s rights which have been eroded either knowingly or unknowingly since the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

He said the state government will use the three documents to sort out the problems with the federal government relating to state rights over oil and gas resources found in Sarawak’s territorial waters.

“Oil and gas resources belong to us because they are found within our territory and in our land,” he said, adding that the Federal Constitution clearly states that land in Sarawak is a state matter.

Abang Johari said Article 8(j) of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution and Item 2(c) of the State List give Sarawak the exclusive rights to its natural resources.

He also said the state and the PH federal governments are reviewing the financial obligations of Putrajaya to Sarawak.

“We are in discussions with the PH government regarding how much should be given to Sarawak,” he said, explaining that under the Federal Constitution, Putrajaya has the financial obligations to both Sarawak and Sabah.