KUCHING, July 22 — Sarawak need not exit the Federation of Malaysia in order to pursue the rights accorded to it by the Malaysia Agreement 1963, said Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg.
Abang Johari said being a member state of the federation did not prevent Sarawak from seeking its rights.
“I believe now with our political independence through GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) we have a better and stronger platform to voice our opinion freely to protect the interest of Sarawak,” he said at the Sarawak Day celebration at the Celebration Square in Petra Jaya, near here, today.
He said Petra Jaya, not Putrajaya, decided the state's destiny.
Among those present at the celebration were the Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, state ministers and federal Works Minister Baru Bian.
He said Sarawak joined Malaysia in the hopes of sharing in the development and was initially satisfied that this was taking place.
“But along the way, intentionally or otherwise, Sarawak’s rights were infringed without Sarawakians being aware of it.
“This of course has brought about much dissatisfaction to the people of Sarawak,” he said.
He said that while Sarawak once had to depend on Malaya for security and assistance, this was no longer the case.
“That is why after agreeing to be a part of Malaysia in principle we insist on certain terms and conditions which gave us autonomy over many aspects of Sarawak’s constitutional life,” he said.
Abang Johari also maintained that the state government must have a strong relationship with its federal counterpart even though both are political rivals.
He said the recent visit by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Sarawak showed that the state government is able to develop a strong working relationship with the federal government.
“Sarawak needs the continuous attention of the federal government to ensure unhampered development for the sake of the people of Sarawak,” he said.