KUCHING: On 9 July 1963, the Malaysia Agreement (MA63) was signed between Great Britain, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore, to form our beloved country, the Federation of Malaysia.
Singapore withdrew from the Federation and became an independent city-state on 9 August 1965.
Fifty-eight years on, MA63 has become a source of contention in East Malaysia, with recent calls towards greater autonomy for Sarawak and Sabah, following years of development construed as unequitable by the two Borneon states.
MA63 is important for Sarawakians as it lays out the original conditions as agreed upon for the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia.
Of particular interest are the autonomous powers to decide on state matters as set out in the original agreement which apparently had been watered down with the passing of time, either inadvertently or otherwise.
As announced by the current Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Sarawak is embarking on initiatives to attain developed status by the year 2030, a plan to blossom Sarawak into a developed and high income economy.
Sarawak 2030 is a vision that all Sarawakians should strive to achieve, and can be realised if Sarawak has financial autonomy.
“Well, negotiations are still ongoing, some achievements had been made. We have now greater control over our petroleum resources in order to have a greater share of revenue from oil and gas, by taking back full control of onshore mining, implementation of the State’s sales tax scheme on petroleum products, and control on gas distribution,” said Sarawak Legal Advisor, Dato Sri JC Fong.
He further explained that the context of MA63 varies from generation to generation.
The older generation understood the historical grievances, struggles and sacrifices of our forefathers in protecting the State from political instabilities with concerns about security.
“The older generation is fully aware of the importance of honouring the special rights and autonomous position of Sarawak at all times because those were the basis upon which our forefathers decided in the best interest of Sarawak, in view of the geopolitical position at that time to be part of a bigger federation called the Fderation of Malaysia,” he said.
Now a whole new generation of vocal young people are demanding to have full autonomy within the federation after realising that Sarawak and Sabah had gradually been marginalised under the federal system whilst autonomous powers as agreed upon earlier had been diluted by the federal government.
“The younger generation is enjoying the fruits from the efforts taken by our forefathers in making Sarawak a stable, harmonious and united State,” said Fong.
“We hope that the federal government will grant the State some degree of executive powers to enable the State to play a greater role in education and in health issues, so that Sarawak, which is a big state with scattered population, can receive the best healthcare attention and education which will enable the younger generation to be fully equipped for the job market come 2030,” he added.
He urged the younger generation to be aware of the sacrifices made by their forefathers, which had resulted in the peace, harmony, unity and economic progress enjoyed by the people of Sarawak all the while.
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