Sabah speaker: Consider partial autonomy for Sabah, Sarawak

PETALING JAYA - Sabah state assembly speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has urged the Federal Government to consider giving partial autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak, noting that both states lacked independence in decision-making.

He said the present system of the Federal Government managing both states did not go down well with the states, which are supposed to enjoy a certain level of autonomy.

Salleh, who is Sabah Umno deputy chairman, said currently, the Federal Government not only decided on the development expenditure but also controlled how, what and when development was implemented.

"This causes delays, wastage and overlapping of functions between the state and federal agencies.

"Many times the state is left out entirely in the decision-making process," said Salleh, a former Sabah Chief Minister, in his blog.

"If the Government considers partial autonomy, this would be a good first step for Barisan Nasional to prove to Sabah and Sarawak voters that the coalition respects their autonomy and honours the spirit of the Malaysian agreement and the 20/18 Point Memorandum.

"Sarawak will be facing its state election in about a year or so from now, followed by Sabah, probably two years later or maybe even earlier.

"Hence it is crucial that this matter be considered in the not too distant future. Sabahans and Sarawakians must be made to feel they are partners in Malaysia and not servants of West Malaysian colonialists," stressed Salleh.

He added that Sabah and Sarawak do not really want independence as certain people are propagating.

"Whether this is the correct perception or not is another matter but we must not deny that this is how many Sabahans and Sarawakians feel.

"The bone of contention here is how these funds are managed and how much say the states have in how these funds are utilised.

"Hence this is a fair request from Sabah and Sarawak and this can only strengthen Barisan Nasional in Sabah and Sarawak when Sabahans and Sarawakians are made to feel that they do have some say in their own destiny," he said.