Time Sarawak introduces Referendum Ordinance

Teng (standing) shares his thoughts.

KUCHING: It is high time for Sarawak to introduce and implement the Referendum Ordinance which would enable the people to make their own call over major issues.

A former assistant minister Datuk David Teng, who suggested this yesterday, said such ordinance ought to be in place in Sarawak if Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) wanted to show Sarawakians that they are the better choice come the next state election.

“Leave it to the people to decide on major matters. GPS can also consider setting aside half of the oil and gas royalties as direct allocation to the people while the other half should go to the state coffers.

“This is called power-sharing and profit-sharing with the people,” he said during a forum organised by the Sarawak Culture Research Institute Society at a restaurant here yesterday.

Over 300 people from all walks of life turned up at the forum moderated by the Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Associations president Dato Richard Wee. The other invited speaker was Ng Chek Yong.

Teng, a lawyer by profession, said Sarawak government would have to treat Sarawakians fair and well in order to earn their support in the next state election.

He said GPS could emulate the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government in carrying out some institutional reform to boost public confidence.

According to him, one plus point about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is that the Prime Minister has decided to set a two-term tenure of the Prime Minister, Menteri Besar and Chief Minister.

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“Of late, Penang government has announced that it would amend its State Ordinance to limit the term of office of Chief Minister. GPS should pick up good policies that have been adopted by the PH government.”

Teng asserted that every Sarawakian ought to be clear about what state’s rights and special safeguards are.

He said, for instance, Sarawak can request for more parliamentary seats from Putrajaya but this does not come under the state’s rights.

“You can only request because it is not your rights. This is because you have agreed upon the quota. In 1963, Malaya had 65 per cent of the total seats and today, it has 75 per cent of them, exceeding the two-thirds majority, which is only 67 per cent,” he explained.

It is learnt that the Federal Constitution and Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report (Paragraph 19) provides that the number of parliamentary seats allocated to Sarawak shall not be reduced during the period of seven years after Malaysia Day, and thereafter, the number of seats allocated to Sarawak shall be determined by Election Commission and Parliament.

Teng said among the special safeguards that Sarawak enjoys are immigration control, religious freedom, High Court for Sarawak and Sabah and use of English and native language in Sarawak.

He added that the Parliament had to acquire the two-thirds majority as well as consent from the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) if any of these special safeguards were to be amended.

He pointed out that September 16 was supposed to be the independence day of Malaysia.

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“Because that was the day when Malaysia was formed, but our Federal Constitution states August 31 as the independence day. I don’t know, perhaps they didn’t have the time to amend it back then.

“I hope this is the case because if this was done on purpose, the agenda is kind of clear,” he said.

Teng advised Sarawakians to equip themselves with analytical thinking skills rather than being enslaved to take in information that was available.

“Listen and learn more, and practise an analytical mind. Ditch your laziness and use your brain. Do not just listen to what others have to say but think and analyse for yourself,” he added.