KUCHING, May 17 — Talks on Sarawak’s autonomy will remain between the federal and state governments regardless of the change in power, a PKR state lawmaker said today.
Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How said the federal Pakatan Harapan (BN) coalition that now controls Putrajaya will have to deal with the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government on the devolution of powers.
He clarified that negotiations will be in accordance with PH’s “Buku Harapan”, which outlined its promises to Malaysians, including Sarawakians.
“The federal government will form a Cabinet committee which will be mandated to look into the autonomous powers of Sarawak and Sabah on how to devolve powers, and within six months, the committee will report to the Cabinet on the things to be implemented,” See, who is also state PKR vice-chairman, told reporters.
He denied that state PH is backtracking on its pledges for Sarawak just because its “New Deal Agreement” was rejected by the ruling state BN.
See also denied that PKR and DAP, both partners of state PH, had conflicting views of the devolution of powers to the state as outlined in the agreement.
The agreement was to be carried out jointly by the state government and state PH should PH take over the federal government in the general election.
It was to restore the rights of Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963; give 50 per cent of all tax collected in Sarawak to the state government as revenue to undertake education and health; restore Sarawak to one of three territories instead of one of 13 territories; and devolve power in commerce and trade.
At a press conference yesterday, state PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen had said the agreement was “off the table” since the state BN component parties did not sign it.
The agreement was handed over through a state government official before the general election for Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and leaders of Sarawak United People’s Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Progressive Democratic Party to sign.
However, it was rejected by Abang Johari in his capacity as the state BN chairman.