Story by Philip Kiew
LAWAS: Sarawak elected representatives under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) can now independently voice Sarawak’s interests and rights without having to toe the party line under the Barisan Nasional (BN) previously.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this at the opening ceremony of the RM 21.67 million Awat Awat Waterfront project Phase I in Lawas today.
“Previously, we had to comply but now we are independent and can now make decide independently for Sarawak as that is the reason why we left BN,” he said.
He pointed out that Sarawak BN did not lose in GE14 on May 9 and the backbone party PBB won 13 out of the 14 seat, which is the same as PPBM helmed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, while the state won 19 out of 31 seats for BN.
“It was BN which lost Peninsular Malaysia but it was a blessing in disguise as we learned that under BN we don’t have the freedom to bring up any issues but had to follow the BN whip in parliament,” he said.
BN was defeated by Pakatan Harapan in GE14, and this changed political landscape has prompted political parties to adapt and form a state coalition in response.
He said previous leaders from Sarawak between ’74 to ’76 such as the late Tun Rahman Yakub, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and Tan Sri Stephen Yong had to comply previously but now GPS is the vehicle for Sarawak to decide their own future as it move forward.
Abang Johari said he had met and conveyed to the Prime Minister that Sarawak will work closely with the PH federal government and give its support unless certain policies is against the interests of the state.
“Sarawak must be ruled and defended by Sarawakians as we know best as we have Gawai –Raya celebrations in the state and inclusive Open House during festivities unlike Peninsula Malaysia,” he said.
The chief minister said the state rights has been further reinforced with the passing of the amendments of the Oil Mining Ordinance which was tabled by Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan in the state legislative assembly sitting earlier this week.
He said this reinforced the state rights and regulatory power in the oil and gas industry in the state as stipulated under the OMO following the lifting of the Emergency Order .
Abang Johari in his speech said that the Awat Awat project was premised on its fishing village setting and its strategic locate said on facing the Brunei Bay.
He said this coastal fishing village was previously isolated due to lack of road communication, and he has spent his early childhood days in this village and understand the challenges faced by the people.
He said the road communication, utilities and other facilities has already reached this village as the people are united and has supported elected representatives in the state government and federal government of the day.
Also present at the function were Abang Johari’s wife Datin Patinggi Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong and his Limbang counterpart Hasbi Habibolah, Sarawak backbenchers club chairman and Batu Danau state assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, Limbang Resident Ir Ahmad Denny Ahmad Fauzi, Lawas District Officer Hussaini Hakim, SAO Sundar Ladin Atok and community leaders.