CM: Sarawak firm in protecting MA63 rights

Posted on : 12 Oct 2018  Source of News: The Borneo Post Online

Wee (fourth right) hands over the resolution and memorandum to Abang Johari, witnessed by Uggah (third left), Faitmah (second left), Dr Sim (left), Lee (third right), Ko (second right) and Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik (right). — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Sarawak is steadfast in protecting its rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), including privileges that prohibit Peninsular Malaysia lawyers from practising in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said under the agreement, non-Sarawakian lawyers are not able to practise in the state without a licence from the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak.

“We have our own regulatory body, namely the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), so no lawyers from Peninsular Malaysia can practise in Sarawak.

“But if this provision is eroded, then they will come here and our lawyers will be affected because they (Peninsular Malaysia lawyers) have bigger legal firms,” he said when closing the Chinese Cultural Symposium at Thian Court here yesterday.

Under MA63, Article 161B states that non-Sarawakian and non-Sabahan lawyers are not allowed to practise in the East Malaysian states without obtaining a licence from the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak and a work permit from the State Immigration Department.

Abang Johari pointed out that the same condition also applies to other professions such as medical practitioners.

“If our rights are not protected, they (Peninsular Malaysians) will come here and by then, we’ve got a problem. Therefore, because of these special rights enshrined in MA63, we must protect them for the sake of Sarawak,” he stressed.

He also called on the people of Sarawak to insulate themselves from divisive policies and remain united for the state.

“We cannot allow extreme elements from outside to enter Sarawak, which is known for its confluence of cultures, harmony and moderation.

“We must protect ourselves and be united because only Sarawakians can look after Sarawak.”

He emphasised that the culture of Sarawak is unique in its own right, where every race is considered in the formulation of government policies such as the setting-up of a special unit led by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to look after the welfare of other religions besides Islam, as well as the state’s recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) which has yet to be recognised by Peninsular Malaysia till this day.

“That is why we have to restore our rights that have been eroded as per MA63.”

On the symposium, Abang Johari said the resolutions pertaining to the cultural and socio-economic aspects of the Sarawak Chinese community would be incorporated in the agenda of the Sarawak Cultural Symposium to be held here next month.

Federation of Chinese Associations of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions president Dato Richard Wee was on hand to present him with the resolutions and memorandum during the closing ceremony.

Among the key points highlighted in the memorandum are to implement policies for the immediate benefit of the common people, such as converting leasehold land for residential purpose to freehold with affordable fees, and providing subsidies and/or free health and medical care to all Sarawakians regardless of race; to form an agency similar to the former ‘Borneo Cultural Bureau’ to publish, translate research papers and standardise translation on specific terminologies or names; and that government departments and agencies improve on their efficiency and effectiveness and cultivate transparency in handling any applications from the public.

Also present at the ceremony were Uggah, Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, and Chinese Cultural Symposium organising committee chairman Pemanca Ko Wai Neng.