BETONG, Aug 31 — Fifty-nine years after the formation of Malaysia, Malaysians need to understand the concept of the federation and cultivate a strong sense of nationalism, Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg stressed today.
He said Malaysians should also not question the special rights of Sarawak, but respect what has been agreed to by the past leaders.
“The people of Sarawak demand that all the rights of Sarawak be respected and recognised by the federal government, but this does not mean that Sarawakians do not possess a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism,” he said during the state-level National Day celebration here.
He said Sarawakians, like diver Pandelela Rinong and powerlifter Gustin Bonnie Bunyau, are fighting hard to win medals so the national anthem can be played at international sports arenas.
“The people of Sarawak were also happy when national men’s double badminton players Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik won the gold medal at the World Championships men’s doubles final in Tokyo three days ago,” he said.
He said Sarawak, as part of the federation, should recognise the powers held by the federal government, the powers and rights under the Sarawak government, and the joint powers of the federal and state governments.
“What is needed is that there should be a form of cooperation and collaboration by both the federal and state governments so that development programmes can be carried out smoothly,” he said.
“Without such close cooperation between the federal and state government, just like what happened during the period of 22 months when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in power at the federal level, the people will lose out,” the premier said.
He said he had recently received courtesy calls from several federal ministers, and he welcomed them with an open heart for the purpose of working together for the good of both state and country.
He said if there are conflicts over state or federal powers and rights, the court should be the ultimate arbitrator.
He said when Sarawak demanded sales tax on petroleum products from the state, the solution was decided by the courts that Sarawak has the right to impose the sales tax.
“Since 2019, Sarawak has collected RM8 billion from the sales tax and with the prices of crude oil going up, the amount of the sales tax to be collected by Sarawak will also be increased,” he said.
Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and Sarawak Speaker Tan Sri Asfia Awang Nasar were among those who attended the state -level National Day celebration at Dewan Sukan Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan.