The pro-autonomy advocacy coalition Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S) held a rally today as the State Assembly met for the final time this year.
Calling for state representatives to reassert their support to reclaim the state’s rights, 400 S4S supporters turned up to demand that a motion be tabled to reverse the 1976 amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, which had downgraded Sarawak’s status from an equal partner in Malaysia to one of the 13 states.
Last Wednesday, Chief Minister Adenan Satem decided not to table the motion, citing encouraging remarks by Prime Minister Najib Razak on possible future autonomy talks.
Today’s rally comprised S4S supporters from Kuching, Balai Ringin, Gedong, Serian and Lubok Antu.
S4S leader Chan Chee Hiong led the group in chanting “Sarawakians for Sarawak” while supporters held up placards and banners calling for the state’s representatives to support a variety of autonomy-related issues.
But their main concern was the issue of the dropped motion that would have symbolically urged Putrajaya to observe Sarawak’s rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), the Inter-Government Committee Report (IGC) 1963 and the Cobbold Commission Report 1962.
“We are here to tell our state representatives to make a stand for Sarawak. They are elected to fight for us. It does not matter who rules Sarawak, as they make a stand,” S4S spokesperson Hanim Haraee said.
Hanim, who hails from Miri, said the group supports “anyone on the inside” that would table the motion.
“That is most important. This issue is not only a matter just for the Chief Minister. This is an issue that speaks to all Sarawakians regardless of race or religion,” Hanim told FMT.
Karen Sheperd, another S4S spokesperson, said today’s peaceful rally was originally planned as an expression of support for the motion before it was withdrawn.
“We’re fully aware that having the motion in the state assembly is not going to solve any of the problems immediately, but actually it is part of the process that has to be started now.
“The current chief minister will not be chief minister forever. I’m not trying to suggest anything horrible, it is just a natural fact. And the prime minister (Najib Razak) will not be prime minister forever.
“Therefore, for the good of Sarawak this process needs to be documented. Our feeling is that the motion was supported by all the parties in the state assembly,” Sheperd said.
“To me that is a very powerful thing for the people of Sarawak to come together with one voice to declare an intent to the Federal Government and that’s really why we come here today, to actually call on the chief minister to re-consider his decision to withdraw the motion.
“He may feel that he’s just going to deal with this himself, but we strongly feel that this is something for all Sarawakians to participate in, no matter what their political affiliation, no matter what their position in government,” she said.
Meanwhile, several retired army officers also expressed their support for the movement. Lt Colonel Fabian Wong (Rtd) of the Rangers/Intelligence Corps said he could no longer “ignore the erosion of rights”.
“As former soldiers, we have fought to safeguard Sarawak during (the Indonesian) confrontation and when she was under threat by the North Kalimantan Communist Party.
“We had defended Sarawak. But now, Sarawak is losing her rights and like all Sarawakians, we are concerned. We have to defend Sarawak and protect her. Now it’s time for us to regain our rights,” Wong said.
Source : Richard T.W.@FMT Reporters Online