Sebastian Ting

KUCHING: Sarawak must pursue a return of its autonomy in education, health and tourism in order to plan the development and expansion of these sectors.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting said these are in addition to current autonomy on immigration, natural resources (oil and gas), land and the state’s Ordinances.

He stressed that Sarawak, along with Sabah must also seek a return of the one-third representation in Parliament which was one of the safeguards for the two states.

“It is also important for us to take heed that our safeguards and Sarawak rights in the Federal Constitution would be irrelevant if they are easily amended by Malaya.

“That was the reason when we formed Malaysia in 1963, Sarawak with 24 MPs, Sabah (16) and Singapore (15) totalling 55 MPs accounted for more than one-third of the 159 seats in Parliament.

“This is to prevent the states in Malaya from having two-thirds of seats in Parliament which would enable them to amend or remove our safeguards in the Federal Constitution at will,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Ting asserted that the 15 parliament seats belonging to Singapore were removed instead of being allocated to Sarawak and Sabah when the republic separated from Malaysia in 1965.

“Combined with the drastic increase in parliamentary seats over the years to the states in Malaya, today Sarawak (31) and Sabah (25) only accounted slightly over 25 percent of the total 222 MPs.

“This is not enough to protect our constitutional safeguards in the Federal Constitution. Therefore, it is imperative that we fight for more than one-third of parliamentary seats to be allocated to Sarawak and Sabah like in 1963.

“These are enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Cobbold Commission, the Inter-Governmental Committee Report, the Malaysia Act 1963 (Chapter 35) and the Federal and Sarawak Constitutions,” he said.