RESTORING the territorial integrity of Sarawak and devolving more powers top Pakatan Harapan’s agenda for the state, should it win the 14th general election.
Unveiling “Part 2” of its election manifesto at the pact’s convention in Sibu today, PH said it would prioritise the dismantling of “two fundamental pillars that Barisan Nasional continues to employ to deceive Sarawakians and sustain its grip on the state – the stripping of territorial integrity and the abrogation of powers”.
The opposition coalition said the restoration of territorial integrity and the devolution of powers would “heal the festering wounds of 55 years in Malaysia”.
The manifesto, launched by PH deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and state PH leaders, reiterated that the pact was committed to honouring the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and restoring Sarawak to its original status “within the context of the Malaysia Agreement 1963”.
Sarawak was one of four territories, along with the federated states of Malaya, Singapore and North Borneo (now Sabah), that formed Malaysia, but in 1976, the BN government amended the constitution, reducing the status of Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th states of the federation.
Reading out the “New Deal”, former DAP Piasau assemblyman Alan Ling said a royal commission would be formed “to review various legislation that affect Sarawak’s immutable right to its natural resources, including but not limited to the Continental Shelf Act 1966, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012”.
In its devolution of powers proposal, PH promised to remove the BN government’s control over revenues related to budget allocations for development and funds for the implementation of projects with a fiscal decentralisation.
Under the plan, the opposition pact will devolve the power of taxation, which will see Sarawak retaining 50% of all tax revenues collected in the state.
The state will also receive 20% in oil and gas royalties, or its equivalent, from the federal government – something that Sarawak has long demanded.
On education, a lost autonomy right whose return is being demanded by Sarawak, PH said while it upheld the national education policy, “decision rights in education” would be returned to the state to “improve service delivery for the benefit of the children and youth of Sarawak”.
With this, and based on the needs and demographic of Sarawak folk, parents can choose whether to have their children taught in Bahasa Malaysia, English or Mandarin.
There will also be a localised school syllabus featuring local languages, history, politics and geography.
PH said under the education reform, staffing and administrative policies would be reviewed to enable teachers to focus on teaching and not be burdened by administrative matters.
It also promised to set up faculties in universities for the study and development of all native languages in Sarawak, and indigenous knowledge, history and anthropology.
It vowed to make available state education grants, to be awarded based on merit, for students from low-income families who wish to pursue their tertiary education either locally or overseas.
On healthcare, the pact said it would return decision rights to the state.
“The over-centralised healthcare system has not catered to the different needs and demographic of Sarawakians.
“The centralised procurement system, in the form of the middle man, has also significantly increased the cost of healthcare and medicines.”
To overcome the problem, the manifesto said, open competition in the procurement of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and medical services would be encouraged.
There will also be the upgrading of all general hospitals in Sarawak, to be equipped with cancer and heart centres.
PH also promised to dismantle the BN government’s trade control and licensing system, which it said encouraged monopolies, cronyism and rent-seeking.
The No. 1 target is the removal of controlled import permits on cars, rice, sugar, cement and other commodities, which the pact said “artificially inflated” the prices of goods.
On the management of Sarawak’s natural resources, PH said the state-owned petroleum company set up by the BN government, Petros, would be replaced by an “equivalent of Petronas” and be named “Sarawak Petrogas”.
The company will answer directly to the state legislative assembly, and like Petros, it will be wholly owned by the state government.
PH said Petros was a mere sub-contractor of Petronas, “hopeful to receive some distribution and sub-contract work”. – January 20, 2018.