KOTA KINABALU: — Sabah State Assembly Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has urged the Federal Government to seriously consider giving partial autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak, noting that both states lacked independence in decision-making.
Writing on his blog, the former Sabah chief minister said that the present system where Putrajaya practically ran the two states did not go down well with them.
Salleh, who also is Sabah Umno deputy liaison chairman, reckoned that it was crucial for Barisan Nasional (BN) to prove to Sabah and Sarawak voters that it respected the spirit of the Malaysia agreement and the 20- and 18-point memorandums.
He reminded that politicians from both sides of the divide, including the prime minister, have admitted that Sabah and Sarawak were “fixed deposits”.
He said without these two states, both BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would not be able to form the federal government.
He also pointed out that with Sarawak state elections due in about a year, followed by Sabah within two years, it was important for this proposal to be considered soon.
“Sabahans and Sarawakians must be made to feel they are partners in Malaysia and not servants of (peninsula) colonialists,” he said.
Salleh also said that it was not independence that the people of Sabah and Sarawak were seeking, adding that there were benefits in being part of Malaysia.
However, he said that what was of concern was the “federalization” of the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak as well as the loss of autonomy in deciding certain matters.
He said currently, the federal government not only decided on development expenditure, but also controlled how, when and what was to be implemented.
Salleh said this caused delays, wastage and overlap of functions between state and federal agencies, adding that often, the states were left out entirely from the decision-making process.
“Once the state approves the projects and the federal government approves the funding for these projects, the federal government should transfer the funds to the state and allow the state to implement those projects the way it sees fit.
“The present system of the federal government practically running the states does not go down well with states that are supposed to enjoy a certain level of autonomy.”
Salleh said the bone of contention now was how the funds were being managed and how much say the states had in the utilization of funds.
“Hence, this is a fair request from Sabah and Sarawak and can only strengthen Barisan Nasional when Sabahans and Sarawakians are made to feel that they do have some say in their own destiny,” he said. — The Borneo Post