Sarawak, Sabah need autonomy more than DPM post, say analysts

Desmond Davidson

Pakatan Hsrapan has promised the deputy prime minister's office to a representative of Sabah and Sarawak. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 29, 2022.

SABAH and Sarawak should not demand the deputy prime minister’s office, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s new Cabinet, political analysts said.

It would be far more useful for Sabah and Sarawak to have autonomy over their development priorities, they said.

The two states need funds for infrastructure projects to build roads, hospitals and schools, University of Tasmania’s Asian expert James Chin said.

“People of Sabah and Sarawak want to be left alone to decide their development priorities rather than let Putrajaya dictate what the developments should be,” he added.

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Jayum Jawan said appointing a deputy prime minister to represent the two states will not close the development gap between the Borneo states and the peninsula.

“The DPM post will only benefit one individual and not the people of Sarawak or Sabah,” Jayum said.

“It is time the leaders on the peninsula honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and do what is morally and ethically right,” Jayum said.

He said Anwar must deliver his election promises to honour the agreement.

“Sabah and Sarawak should not have to beg for what belongs to them. Leaders from the two states are misguided and wrongly advised to demand for what rightfully belongs to us and which is canonised in the MA63.”

Chin said most people are expecting Petra Jaya MP Fadillah Yusof to fill one of the deputy prime minister’s posts, which will also not advance Anwar’s wish for an “inclusive, multiracial” government.

“I expect the deputy prime minister to come from GPS. If that happens, GPS will be breaking new ground. Will it show its commitment to multiracialism if it selects the DPM (nominee) from Pesaka?” Chin said, referring to the non-Muslim wing of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, the lynchpin of the four-party GPS coalition.

Fadillah, who is PBB senior vice-president and the GPS chief whip, is a member of the Bumiputera wing of the party.

Chin said the coalition would make a change by submitting a non-Muslim name for the post.

Chin said Anwar would not be fulfilling his aspirations for a multiracial government if all the senior positions in the cabinet continued to be held by Malay Muslims.

“We will not make any progress (in race relations).

“(Sarawak Premier) Abang Johari Openg, who claims that he is no racist,  should (propose) a non-Muslim to be deputy prime minister.” – November 28, 2022.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.