Of ‘Premier’ and sour grapes

I was probably never going to get to do the kind of things dramatically that I really wanted to do, so I returned to theatre from time to time, and to write, and produce. It’s by no means sour grapes.

— Larry Hovis, American singer

In Sarawak on February 15 2022, we saw a change in the designation of the “Chief Minister” to “Premier”.

Article 44 of the Constitution has been amended to include the interpretation of Premier, as “the Chief Minister appointed under Article 6(3)” and any reference to the Chief Minister in any written law will refer to the Premier.

This critical change in designation was done via The Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2022. Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah tabled the bill.

It is indeed a day to remember and a milestone in Sarawak’s history and its journey towards its rightful autonomous status.

This 19th Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting will be a memorable and landmark moment for all Sarawakians.

The bill was passed comfortably with more than two-thirds majority, with 67 members voting in favour and six members opposing it. This amendment was prompted by the recent amendments in the Federal Constitution.

On December 14 2021, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 was passed in our Federal Parliament with 199 votes in favour and 21 MPs absent after a six-hour long debate. This amended law came into effect on February 11 2022.

The amendments were tabled on November 3 2021, with four hard-fought changes.

They restored Sabah and Sarawak as “territories”, defined Malaysia Day as the day when Sabah and Sarawak helped form Malaysia and changed our federation’s definition. It also enables Sabah and Sarawak to determine who is classified as natives in their respective “territories”.

Most importantly, the amended constitution restores Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya within the Federation of Malaysia, in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA1963)
As usual, a few sceptics do not agree that these recent amendments mean much to Sarawak. Some opposition figures in Sarawak have opined that the changes are not enough.

I say, what I have emphasised before, that it is a phase by phase fight and effort. The GPS government and its newly designated Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg have made progress and changes in a stable political environment and with maturity during this process.

I know most Sarawakians prefer change within a politically and economically stable Sarawak. Nothing good will be derived by the people here if a drastic change brings major political and economic upheaval and chaos.

During this DUN sitting, various attempts were made to belittle the critical amendments.

Claims were made that the change was redundant. There were also remarks that the term “Premier” might easily be confused with a brand of tissue paper. Again, this is an insult to Sarawakians, implying they are mentally challenged and will get easily confused.

However, this DUN member got her comeuppance when she posted her views on her Facebook page. There was a vast adverse reaction to her posting. She had to disable her comments feature to prevent further embarrassment.

These attempts to disparage the amendments are just sour grapes.

The idiom sour grapes is taken from Aesop’s Fable. It is called The Fox and the Grapes. In this story, a bunch of grapes hangs from a vine, just out of the fox’s reach. Despite many efforts and manoeuvres, the fox cannot get the grapes and always fails.

The moral of the story is that you often hate what you can’t have or achieve yourself. The opposition has made many promises in the past.

Even when in power during the PH government, they could not achieve anything significant for Sarawak. So now you can understand their present sour grapes attitude.

I fully support Abdul Karim’s view when he said that the change in designation to “Premier” is putting “Sarawak in the right perspective in its journey to reclaim its rights as an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia”.

Therefore, the journey continues in our peaceful and stable environment. Under the current leadership of Premier Abang Jo and his GPS team, we will see many more milestones and momentous days ahead.

Let us all carry on with supporting Premier Abang Jo and his team, especially at the next parliamentary elections.

Winning all the parliamentary seats in Sarawak will enable Sarawak to carry on in its journey to claim back even more rights.

So once again, Sarawakians, the ball is in your court. Do the right thing once more.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

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