PAKATAN Harapan tonight promised Sarawak and Sabah it would revisit the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and renegotiate a deal that would be fair to all, ahead of polls due by August 2018.
Amidst shouts of “hidup Tun” (long live Tun) from some 2,000 people who braved Kuching’s evening thunderstorm, the coalition chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad said what was needed were fair terms to all the three territories that agreed to form Malaysia – Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.
Dr Mahathir said the federal governments before and after him had deemed fit to renege on MA63 by going to parliament where MPs from Malaya are in the majority to bulldoze what had been agreed.
The politician, who was Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister from 1981 to 2003, said there were never any negotiations on what they wanted.
The Continental Shelf Act reduced Sarawak and Sabah’s sea borders from 19.3km to 4.8km while the PDA vested all exploration and exploitation of petroleum – onshore or offshore – to Petronas even though the rights to mining had been given to the state under the MA63.
The two states had long claimed the two laws were designed to plunder their oil and gas.
“There were never any negotiations,” Dr Mahathir told the crowd in the residential estate of Taman BDC – a DAP stronghold which is in the Stampin parliamentary constituency.
“Only debated and passed without any consideration for the feelings of the people of Sarawak and Sabah.
“We are ruled by parliament, where MPs from Malaya far outnumber those from Sarawak and Sabah.”
Parliament has 222 seats but only 56 are from the two Borneo states – 31 from Sarawak and 25 from Sabah.
“We are revisiting the agreement because we know the people are unhappy about it.”
Dr Mahathir also denied he passed the PDA as claimed by some Barisan Nasional politicians.
“I had been accused. (But) I was not the prime minister then.
“The prime minister who passed the PDA was Tun Razak, (prime minister) Najib Razak’s father.”
Dr Mahathir also said PH would give Sarawak and Sabah the right to decide the kind of education system it wants as stipulated under the MA63, adding that the two states have the right to have their own education system.
Sarawak had also long demanded the medium of instruction in its school should be in English but not downplaying the importance of Bahasa Malaysia.
This ceramah is Dr Mahathir’s first visit to Sarawak after joining the opposition in its campaign to oust Najib, whom he called a thief.
Dr Mahathir is still held in high esteem by older voters who practically grew up during his 22 years in office.
However, a resident in the area, Petrus Jala, said PH was only preaching to the converted by having the ceramah in a DAP stronghold.
The opposition only holds six of the 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak, all of them urban, predominantly Chinese seats – Bandar Kuching, Stampin, Bandar Sibu, Lanang, Sarikei and Miri. Except for Miri which is held by PKR, DAP holds the rest.
The rural Dayak and semi-urban seats are still in the grasp of the BN and there are no indications that the 92 year-old Dr Mahathir or the also elderly DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, plan to go to the rural areas.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT