First year in office, PM Anwar proves commitment to fulfil aspirations of Sarawakians

KUCHING: The decision made by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to cooperate with "political opponent" Pakatan Harapan (PH) to form the new Federal Government after the 15th General Election (GE–15) in November last year, really caught most Sarawakians by surprise.

Even some GPS leaders were deeply sceptical about it.

However, after a year of being in power, the Unity Government led by Prime Minister and PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim proved that the two opposing coalitions were more than able to work together for the benefit of the people, including the Sarawakians.

"I think Anwar has been very highly committed to fulfilling the aspirations and the needs of the Sarawakians," National Professors' Council Senior Fellow Datuk Dr Jeniri Amir told Bernama.

Jeniri also listed out several major decisions which Anwar made within a year of being the nation's 10th Prime Minister that won the approval of the Sarawak people.

"A good example I think is the RM300 million special interim grant given to Sarawak (to comply with the Malaysia Agreement 1963), which I think was revised almost 19 times (by Anwar-led government)," he said.

Jeniri said the decision to allow the Sarawak and Sabah governments to implement federal projects worth RM50 million and below was also seen as a sincere move and commitment of the federal government to accelerate the completion of the projects.

"Anwar realised the importance of Sabah and Sarawak in the Unity Government and the importance to boost Sabah and Sarawak's development. Definitely, this will cut all the red tape," he said.

He also noted the Prime Minister's frequent trips to Sarawak last year, which reflected Anwar's determination to understand the people's aspirations and problems.

Meanwhile, a sociopolitical analyst from Universiti Malaya's Centre for Studies of Democracy and Elections (UMCEDEL) Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Anwar's decision to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) from Sarawak was unprecedented.

"A DPM from Sarawak means benefits and approaches from Sarawak's perspective which will be closer, better understood, and more directly involved in Prime Minister Anwar's administration, unlike before when there was no DPM from Sarawak," he said.

Awang Azman said Anwar's openness to listen and address requests by Sarawakians and Sabahans in their letters and petitions to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Mustafa Billah Shah during His Majesty's tour of the two states, were also proven when each of the letters and petitions were dealt accordingly.

He said the Prime Minister had also shown his full confidence in Sarawak under the leadership of Abang Johari and Sabah under Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Nor by allowing the two states to implement federal projects worth RM50 million and below.

"This never happened during any of the previous governments. This kind of confidence clearly ensures immediate decisions can be made at the state level without waiting for the green light from the federal government," he said.

On the Malaysia Agreement 1963, he said Anwar's stand was clear and firm when he said that matters in the agreement were not to be negotiated but to be executed.

"Anwar brings a new era of relations with Sarawak after the formation of the Unity Government. The commitment of Sarawak is given high recognition to ensure that the development of the state has a greater and more multiplied impact," he added. – Bernama

Keywords: Anwar Ibrahim, Jeniri Amir, Sarawak, Awang Azman, Malaysia Agreement 1963

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