By Emma Victoria
DAP’S representatives will not quit from the State Legislative Assembly’s Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Consultative Committee.
The two representatives, Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang and Tanjong Batu assemblyman Chiew Chiu Sing, said they will continue to play their part in advancing and safeguarding the special interests, rights and position of Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 and the Federal Constitution.
“We regret to receive the news of Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How’s resignation from the committee which was set up in November 2018.
“While we respect his decision, we have resolved to remain in the committee to play our roles as entrusted upon us by our party, the State Legislative Assembly and all Sarawakians,” they said in a joint statement.
“We will ensure that the expectations of Sarawakians for greater autonomy and devolution of powers to the state are met through our role in the committee.”
Both the elected representatives said they stood with See in protesting against the decision by the Sarawak government – through the recent actions of the working committee under Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan – to not involve the negotiating team from the consultative committee in the commercial negotiations with Petronas and the federal government.
“It is indeed absolutely unacceptable that despite the fact that the working committee under the Deputy Chief Minister is already in the midst of negotiating on the finer details of the terms of settlement and the terms would be known after Aug 3. The negotiating team from the consultative committee has not even been engaged or invited to be involved in the ongoing negotiations,” they said.
“The lack of involvement of the negotiating team from the consultative committee defeats the purpose of why it was set up in the first place on June 10, which was to allow the team to participate and to keep abreast with the negotiations between Sarawak, Petronas and the federal government, so that it may discharge its duty to the State Assembly better.
“In fact, during a meeting last month, it was agreed that the negotiating team from the consultative committee would be empowered to negotiate in the three provinces of the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Continental Shelf Act 1966, and the Territorial Sea Act 2012, which contravene Article 2(b) of the Federal Constitution.
“As far as we can remember from the meeting, it was never the purpose of the consultative committee to strictly limit or confine its power and authority to just tackling the legal aspects of negotiation.
“It is therefore not right for the working committee under the Deputy Chief Minister to carry on with their unilateral negotiations without roping in the negotiating team from the consultative committee.”
They also called on state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who heads the negotiating team from the consultative committee, to insist that his team be actively engaged from now on in the ongoing negotiations between Sarawak, Petronas and the federal government.
“Karim should be very mindful that a heavy burden lies on him and his negotiating team’s shoulder to ensure that the history of 1975 does not repeat itself with the executive continuing to ignore the boundaries set up by the legislative.”
They said a heavy burden therefore lies in the negotiating team’s hands that Sarawak be socially and economically restored to her rightful place through the role they should play in the negotiations.
They also urged the chairman of the consultative committee, Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, to immediately convene a meeting to fill the void left by See, who represented the voice of the opposition parties in the negotiating team.