What do the majority of people in Sarawak want?
GPS, which has ruled Sarawak for 56 years, appears to have pulled off a masterstroke when it secured the Constitution (Amendment) Bill – or commonly referred to as the MA63 Agreement, which is the political game in town for Sarawak politicians. and Sabah – recently approved in Parliament.
In 2019, GPS abstained from voting on a similar or comparative bill tabled by Pakatan Harapan’s government, citing the following reasons:
- The bill did not detail the application of the equal partnership in substance and in form, in particular by guaranteeing a third of parliamentary seats and a third of national resources,
- The exclusion by amendment of a third of the annual financial allocation to Sarawak, considering that Sarawak was one of the largest contributors to the national income, demonstrated that the federal government “lacked sincerity”.
Was there anything different between the amendment bill tabled in 2019 and the last bill, which was tabled and approved within six weeks, other than simple cosmetic amendments?
Did the approved amendment bill address the two issues cited above by GPS for its abstention?
The passage of the bill two days before the Sarawak elections has obviously contributed significantly to the GPS retaining its qualified majority, as it gives the impression to the people of Sarawak that they are protected by the GPS.
He has shown that he is asserting himself more and more, having been pushed around at the whims of ethnocentric Malaysian politicians, while defending the rights of the people of Sarawak, who demand fair treatment from the federal government.
Now that the GPS has returned to power and with a qualified majority, the people of Sarawak – who had hoped for fair treatment from the federal government – will again be disappointed.
Politicians from the GPS and the ruling BN / PN coalition will continue to play the game of perception, which they have been playing for 56 years.
Things are likely to stay the same with minimal changes. The people of Sarawak will continue to be inundated with a flood of truths, half-truths and lies swimming in ocean corruption.
The GPS will continue to make the necessary noises, for example, reports will be released indicating that most people in Sarawak are “satisfied” with the current level of autonomy.
With the total erasure of the political party that defended the call for secession at the ballot box, this call risks going unnoticed.
Those calling for secession should be well aware that the political class on the peninsula will never accept it because they never saw Sarawak as a foreign identity, rather as rebel cousins.
If they let go of one region, others might be next.
Globally, there have been around 400 recorded secessionist movements in history over the past 200 years, of which only around 60 are still active.
The number that won independence is no more than the five fingers on our hands. Many fade and some movements cease violently.
Those calling for secession, citing Kosovo and Rhodesia as an example, should consider the economic losses and costs to the cities of Montreal in the province of Quebec and Barcelona in the region of Catalonia.
Both cities hosted the Olympics, with the same population and contribute significantly to their country’s GDP.
Both were important centers of commerce, finance, industry, technology, culture and world affairs.
However, the provinces in which they are located, respectively Quebec and Catalonia, are more interested in politics of passion than in productivity.
Montreal lost several decades of growth to the cities of Toronto and Vancouver, which became the prosperous cities of Canada.
In Barcelona, companies have moved their headquarters out of the city at the height of calls for secession launched by the provincial government of Catalonia a few years ago.
In a 2018 public opinion survey conducted by ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute on the perspectives of East Malaysians on federal state-state relations, identity / religion, education / language and some topical issues, the survey found strong support from all demographic groups in Sarawak for greater autonomy for the state, especially in the areas of economic development, exploitation of natural resources and education.
However, as the above survey sampled only 803 respondents – who were polled via landlines and mobile phones – what the size of the population of 2.6 million makes it a shared collective consciousness and desire to ‘be autonomous, with greater political autonomy or total independence?
Even though the total population of Sarawak represents less than 10% of the national population, it is one of the major contributors to the national GDP.
Yet over 40% of Sarawak’s people still live in rural areas, lacking basic facilities and infrastructure, including education, health care, connectivity, electricity and electricity supply. running water.
Economically, Sarawak is overtaxed. This is pretty obvious to see in things like infrastructure and financial aid, with the excuse that Sarawak is a wealthy region and therefore should give more than it receives in order to help lesser states. poorer.
The results of this policy are questionable and that there is no way for Sarawak to have a say as taxation is controlled by the federal government, which means that whatever negotiations or proposals are made , they can be rejected by other political parties on the peninsula.
Thus, GPS cannot fundamentally or sufficiently capable of changing or revising the current business model, which has been in practice for 57 years, in a short period of time.
Any attempt by the GPS to divert public attention from national issues towards fair treatment by the federal government would only harm Sarawak’s own interests.
The system underlying Sarawak’s economy has not and will not change. Engaging in this game means that GPS could potentially miss out on future opportunities to solve its own problems and the people of Sarawak will have to pay the price.
So instead of harboring the idea of secession or waiting for the federal government to tackle the inequitable distribution of wealth to Sarawak, the people of Sarawak should demand that GPS politicians push for financial autonomy. full, where Sarawak will collect its own taxes and pay less tax to the federal government.
Moving away from its current economic structure, which is largely export oriented and dominated by commodities, connectivity will be the key and the engine of growth for the people of Sarawak for years to come.
Sarawak was left behind during the industrialization of the country where the majority of development focused on the peninsula. Will this time be different?
The world is undergoing a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live, work and relate to each other.
In its magnitude, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humanity has known before.
No government in the world can tell you how this will play out, but one thing is clear: if government is for the well-being of the people, GPS must respond to the challenge in an integrated and comprehensive manner, involving all stakeholders. stakeholders in global politics. , from the public and private sectors to universities and civil society, no matter where or who they are.
In the future, talent, more than capital, will be the critical factor in production.
In September 2021, the government of Sarawak announced that 90% of the state’s areas will be equipped with high-speed internet service through the Sarawak Multimedia Authority connecting the Urban, Rural and National Initiative (Saluran) from here. next year.
With complete financial autonomy, Sarawak will be able to invest, improve and continually improve its digital infrastructure, currently monopolized by Sacofa, to include the coverage of all its interiors.
Connectivity is essential if the people of Sarawak are to develop every part of their land, no matter how remote or inland.
No matter how dedicated Sarawakans are to adopting digital knowledge, the application of this knowledge will be impossible if they cannot get a stable internet line everywhere.
So far, it appears that Sarawak is still lagging behind on several indicators critical to a successful digital revolution. Talent is one of them.
Without attempts to move beyond existing models of innovation, entrepreneurship and digital growth, Sarawak companies risk falling further behind, exacerbating the digital divide and reducing its competitiveness.
As a result, Sarawakans should press for GPS to relax their goal of “bounding” the workforce and talent so that Sarawak can attract qualified international talent.
In all fairness, there is currently a huge gap between the demand for and supply of talent in specialist areas of the digital economy, given the inability of companies to train professionals for these important roles.
Hiring foreign talent will help to partially solve this problem.
Will the hornbill be able to fly to its desired heights and rule the homeland? This is in the hands of all parties, including those who adorn their emblems with the image of this magnificent bird. – December 20, 2021.
* FLK reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the author or post and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.