I meant to post this earlier however I was caught up in a series of events that I let it slide. Yesterday when I came across this article, I then decide to post this anyway for completion sake. This article is about UPKO’s decision in staying put in Barisan Nasional to act as its conscience. The party head, Bernard Dompok, also made some strong statements about his party’s stand on the illegal immigrants, Borneonisation of the civil service, religious freedom and Petronas’ arrogance plus more. The religious freedom may have struck a cord to some religious sensitives that they are demanding a police investigation on Dompok’s speech.
After having the read the article, I felt sick in the stomach. For I believe that we shouldn’t forcibly impose our religious beliefs upon an unwilling neighbour, whether it is constitutionally correct or not. To me anything relating to loss or abuse of personal freedom is a sin of the highest degree.
Anyway, that is only my own opinion. You are entitled to yours.
Sunday, October 12th 2008
Upko president Bernard Giluk Dompok has pledged to remain with the Barisan Nasional as the “the coalition’s conscience” for now, although he warns the tide in Sabah, as elsewhere in Malaysia, is very much against the ruling coalition.
He made the pledge in a 21-page keynote policy address which set the tone for his party’s three-day 12th triennial meeting which ends today.
“Without your commitment, we would not have been able to rise against the onslaught of the opposition at an election (the March national polls) where the tide against the BN was very much evident in Sabah but perhaps not as strong compared to the semenanjung (peninsula) states,” admitted Dompok.
Upko has four MPs, six members in the state legislature and a senator.
The Upko president chartered three salient points to illustrate the party’s role in the wake of the March political tsunami whereby the BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, four states, one Federal Territory and failed to wrest back Kelantan despite all the earlier pre-poll predictions.
First, the results of the March general election changed dramatically the political landscape of the nation, ushering in an emerging trend of a discerning electorate willing to look beyond the comfort of a government that has a proven track record of bringing post-independence development.
Second, the electorate of today seems to say that there are very serious neglects in our national life which growth rates at the national level alone will not be able to address.
Third, for the BN, the time has come to take stock of the situation; to identify these neglects and offer remedies that will rekindle the trust and the high esteem that we were once held in the hearts of those who had given us dizzying majorities in previous elections.
Sabah and Sarawak now vital
However, there was a strong note of disappointment and frustration in Dompok’s address when he pointed out that many issues raised by the party during previous meets remained unresolved at the community level, the state level and the national level although these have been raised through various meetings and dialogues.
“National issues, those that are directly under the purview of the national government, were the major cause for the big swing towards the opposition as the biggest casualties came from the national parties,” said Dompok.
“Today, the BN would not be able to form the national government without the members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak. It is to no one’s surprise therefore that the people of East Malaysia now want the Federal Government to pay serious attention to the many grouses which have been brought to their attention and which so far has received unsatisfactory responses from them.”
Dompok directed much of his party’s wrath at the long festering problem of illegals in Sabah and other issues – including what he said was gross under-representation in the federal cabinet – which has been conveyed to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he took a fact-finding trip to Sabah and Sarawak recently “to ascertain the views and the unhappiness of the two states”.
He reiterated his party’s long-standing call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the state National Registration Department, its complete revamp, and the issuance of ICs in Sabah including to illegal migrants as a result of lax administration.
“We have informed the prime minister that action on the problems faced by Sabah with regards to illegal immigration is long overdue and the government must now muster the political will to finally address this subject,” said Dompok. “Indeed, we are not alone in asking for urgent action. The sentiment is shared by all component parties of the Barisan Nasional.”
Local issues unsolved
Relating his unhappy experience as chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity, Dompok again raised the issue of departments under the Home Ministry being directed not to attend his committee’s meetings.
The ministry’s officials admitted during previous meetings that “all was not well at the state NRD and Immigration Departments”, among others.
Elsewhere, Dompok touched on the question of religious freedom, Borneonisation of the civil service, and Petronas’ “arrogance and disrespect” for even the prime minister who had earlier made certain decisions in favour of Sabah despite the national oil corporation ruling against “the interest of the state”.
“On May 13 this year, the prime minister promised before a gathering of BN leaders in Kota Kinabalu that Petronas will stop plans to ship gas from Kimanis in Sabah to Bintulu in Sarawak,” said Dompok.
“Despite the prime minister’s pledge, Petronas melawan the perdana menteri and is going ahead with its gas shipment plans. It was a big mistake for Sabah to have agreed to yield to Petronas the rights to petroleum in the 70s and to accept in return only five per cent as royalty payment.”
Dompok decried the fact that although Sabah is potentially the biggest supplier of crude oil with known reserves of 2.2 billion barrels out of 5.4 billion barrels and 11.6 tscf gas reserves, “we have nothing to show for it unlike Terengganu, Sarawak, Pahang, Johore, Kedah and Malacca. Labuan has a methanol plant”.
“After more than 30 years, can’t we produce even one Sabahan to occupy even one of the senior positions in Petronas and its subsidiaries?” queried Dompok.
Among his concluding remarks, Dompok pointed out the tussle between the civil and syariah courts in matters involving non-Muslims.
“Natives of Sabah who have Muslim-sounding names and ascribed a religion (wrongfully in their IC) can have a hard time making the necessary correction. Some have been advised to go to the Syariah Court to clear their religious status. How can someone who has never been a Muslim be subjected to the Syariah?” asked Dompok.
In concluding, Dompok thanked Abdullah who is on his way out for his services to the nation and warned that while “we can work for BN even in the most difficult circumstances, we are prepared to lose elections in protecting something right. We cannot go against our conscience or become apologists for other people”.