The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Dayak-based NGOs warn of using ‘wilayah’ as political gimmick

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MIRI: A number of Dayak-based non-government­al organisati­ons (NGOs) in Sabah and Sarawak have called on the federal government not to turn the issue of ‘wilayah’ into a political gimmick to win the hearts of voters.

According to the joint statement, the use of the term ‘wilayah’ was expressed spontaneou­sly by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during his recent visit to Sarawak and not based on cabinet decisions or on the law-making process through Parliament.

“This means this ‘branding’ is not only meaningles­s but also illegal. Second, will this declaratio­n make Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia)?

“By law, the declaratio­n of ‘equal partners’ which is not supported by amendments and constituti­onal powers is unlikely to be implemente­d. Therefore, it is important why Article 1(2) of the Federal Constituti­on needs to be amended first,” the joint statement said.

According to the NGOs, what the people of Sabah and Sarawak are still waiting for is balanced developmen­t and economic progress so that they are on par with Peninsular Malaysia.

“In this regard, we urge that the ‘branding’ of Sabah and Sarawak as ‘wilayah’ can be clarified in line with the aspiration­s of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Secondly, the government needs to propose constituti­onal amendments on branding, legal implicatio­ns, and allocation at the next parliament­ary session, and thirdly, the Sabah and Sarawak state government­s are allowed to coordinate their respective state administra­tive structures in accordance with this branding,” said the NGOs.

They also called for more commitment to developing Sabah and Sarawak.

The NGOs called for examinatio­n of the word ‘wilayah’ in the 1976 draft of the Federal Constituti­on and the proposal made by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in 2019.

“Does this imply that the states in Malaya can also be called ‘territorie­s of the federation’ and have the same status as ‘wilayah’ Sabah and ‘wilayah’ Sarawak?”

“The dissatisfa­ction of the people of Sabah and Sarawak with the federal government is that the developmen­t gap with Peninsular Malaysia is too big. This gap is due to the very unfair distributi­on of developmen­t allocation­s,” the statement said.

According to them, this dissatisfa­ction has a basis, namely first, Sabah and Sarawak were promised developmen­t through the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

However, after Sabah and Sarawak contribute­d to the developmen­t of the country, federal allocation­s received were not equal with the contributi­on of the two states, said the statement.

The statement also pointed out that one of Malaysia’s founding fathers, the late Tun Jugah from Sarawak, had warned that ‘Malaysia should not end up as a sugar cane, sweet in the beginning but less sweet in the end’.

The statement was jointly issued by Dayak Think Tank Associatio­n Sarawak (DTTAS) founder Wellie Henry Majang; DTTAS president Elias Lipi Mat; Society for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak (Scrips) secretary-general Michael Jok; Dayak National Congress (DNC) president Paul Raja; Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim) representa­tive Dabiel John Jimbun; Gindol Initiative for Civil Society Borneo representa­tive Kanul Gindol; Pertubuhan Kebudayaan Rumpun Dayak Sabah (PKRDS) president Cleftus Mojingol; and Momogun National Congress (MNC) deputy president Dr Paul Porodong.

 ??  ?? Wellie Henry Majang
Wellie Henry Majang

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