KUCHING, July 18 ― Sarawakians seeking the return of their rights may be shackled if Pakatan Harapan takes over Putrajaya at the next elections, activist Lina Soo warned today.
She claimed that a Pakatan Harapan federal government under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not hesitate to detain those who dare speak out in favour of returning the rights of the Borneo states as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement (MA) 1963.
“During his time as the prime minister, we dared not talk about our rights out of fear that we would be detained under the Internal Security Act,” she told a press conference here.
She cited as examples the detention of Sabahan politician Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan and a few other Sabahans under the Internal Security Act (ISA) ― now abolished ― when they talked about Sabah's rights.
Soo also said Dr Mahathir, at one time, had urged the federal government to bring back ISA to deal with people from Sarawak and Sabah who insisted on the return of their rights under the MA 1963.
She claimed that she and a few other rights activists would have been in detention by now if Dr Mahathir was still in power.
“But under Najib Razak as prime minister, we are free to talk on our rights,” she said, adding that the current prime minister gives the people of the two Borneo states the freedom to express their views without any fear of being detained.
She said one of those rights that former Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had wanted to reclaim was for Putrajaya to restore Sarawak's status to one of equal partner with Malaya in the formation of Malaysia from one of the 13 states.
She said the implication in the lowering of status, through an amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1976, is seen in the allocation of funds to Sarawak.
“Instead of allocating the funds equally between Sarawak, Malaya and Sabah, it is being allocated among the 13 states in Malaysia,” she said.
She deplored the way Sarawak, the biggest state in Malaysia, is being treated the same way as the tiny state of Perlis.