The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. –George Washington, first President of US

We have finally decided how we should play our part in national politics.

In what is seen as a politically astute move, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced two days ago that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will join the federal government. But it comes with a condition — that our entry into the Cabinet be under the formula known as Perikatan Nasional (PN) Plus GPS (PN+GPS).

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would surely have been only too glad to accept the condition. He didn’t have to think twice about it. And why not, after all we gave him our crucial support when it mattered most to him and the country.

We are the kingmakers. And we used this role wisely. We didn’t abuse our position.

Like Abang Johari said, “For us the interest of the nation is more important. The people were getting uneasy… stability is important, so we are playing our small part to save the country.”

I agree!

While many Sarawakians go along with our government’s decision, there are some who are not too pleased. This faction would have preferred Sarawak to stay out of the Cabinet.

“Haven’t our leaders all along been saying we will not join the Malayan ruling coalition? Why this sudden U-turn?” asked a pseudo-political analyst friend while taking a slow, thoughtful sip of his teh tarik over a quick breakfast at a kopitiam yesterday.

Another, a fellow journo said, “Ya lah, saying one thing and doing another! These people are all the same-lah!

“Now PAS and Umno have realised their dreams of being in the federal government,” he said.

I believe many others throughout the state have offered similar reactions or views.

But wait. Don’t always be fast on the draw or quick to join the crowd of critics. There are so many ways Sarawak stands to gain by being in the federal Cabinet.

Our representatives will be in a better position to fight for the return of our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), especially those on oil and gas.

Let’s go back to the PN+GPS formula. What is it all about?

What does it mean?

It simply means we STAY OUT of the Malayan ruling coalition of Bersatu, Umno, MCA, MIC and PAS but take up positions in the Cabinet.

As Abang Johari explained, “GPS is not joining the federal ruling coalition. We do not want to be involved in the political issues gripping the peninsula. We just want to focus on Sarawak and on the nation.”

Get the drift? No?

Let’s put it another way. GPS will be in the Cabinet, alright. But we may not be bound by the PN coalition’s code of conduct, ethics or whatever. We are free to voice our views, make demands and fight for our rights without the fear of the PN Whip going after us.

A state minister whom I spoke to yesterday explained it more clearly.

“I think PN+GPS is like this-lah.  It’s just like an extended family. You have three or four families living under one roof, with the patriarch in control.

“You do your own things, eat whatever meals you like. You consult the patriarch on certain issues and get them resolved. Short of money? No problem. Just discuss with the patriarch. You are not subservient to the other families under the roof.

“So PN+GPS is like that-lah.  We are not subservient to any of the coalition members. We are not in the coalition. We just accept Cabinet positions to help the coalition run the country smoothly and at the same time make Sarawak’s life easier.

“We can gain a lot by being their Cabinet colleagues…”

Okay, okay Datuk. I understand. Cukup-lah!

So much for my Datuk friend’s explanation.

Anyway, let me list down how it will benefit Sarawak by GPS being part of the federal Cabinet.

  1. GPS need not worry about PN entering the fray in the coming state elections. Umno and PAS in particular will leave us alone. We should even get some help from them against Pakatan Harapan fellas who are sure to field candidates against GPS.
  2. PN will surely help us out with election funding. So, GPS may not have to worry about where to get the money for the polls.
  3. Now we are in a better position to negotiate with Petronas to drop the suit against us.
  4. Surely PN will help us get Petronas to settle the long overdue petroleum sales tax which I believe could have reached RM3-4 billion.
  5. Money for repairing our dilapidated schools which was stopped by the PH fellas will now flow in.
  6. Negotiations on our rights under MA63 can continue without obstacles.
  7. Perhaps, Putrajaya can talk to Petronas to increase our oil royalty.

The above are a few benefits coming our way following Abang Johari’s brilliant decision for GPS to be in the Cabinet.

Let’s give our chief minister and GPS the time — yes ample time — to fulfil all of the above. Be patient. Remember Rome was not built in a day!