Phoong Slams SAPP; Says DAP Has Never Wavered From Defending Sabah Rights

KOTA KINABALU: DAP Sabah Publicity Secretary Phoong Jin Zhe has expressed disappointment over a recent statement by SAPP deputy president Melanie Chia who questioned the party’s promise of autonomy towards Sabah and Sarawak.

In response to Chia’s statement that the return of 50% of all tax receipts to the state is unconstitutional, Phoong stressed that the proposal by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is to fulfil the aspirations of people in Sabah and Sarawak.

Phoong Jin Zhe

He said that in order to uphold Sabah and Sarawak’s autonomy, a structural reform at federal level is much needed, and this has always been DAP’s struggle for Sabah and Sarawak.

“This must be borne in mind that such efforts has also gone to the extent of a memorandum being handed over to the Sabah state government by a Sabah DAP delegation,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“We recognize the fact that the Malaysian Agreement 1963 has guaranteed 40% net taxation return to Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal government has yet to honour such.

“While honouring the MA63, DAP’s proposal on 50 percent tax revenue shares to Sabah state government is part of a “Better Deal” for Sabah and Sarawak through revising or amending Schedule 9 of the Federal constitution,” Phoong emphasized.

He also said that these efforts can be seen through DAP’s move for a “New Federalism” all these years, and he felt puzzled over SAPP’s baseless attacks, as the party had claimed themselves as an opposition fighting for greater Sabah autonomy.

“It is weird that SAPP continuously belittles DAP’s efforts instead of working together and putting aside our political differences to achieve the common goal for the sake of Sabahans,” he added.

Phoong elaborated that under DAP’s initiative of “New Federalism”, the new and real federation would guarantee a fairer distribution and opportunities to the respective states, just like the system been practiced in Australia and U.S.

“It will be equal status for Sabah and Sarawak within the Malaysia federation, and it is certainly not “a colony of Malaya” like what Chia had erroneously claimed.

“I must stress that DAP is a national party just as much as it is also a local party. It is a non zero-sum game when a national party fights for local interest. At national level, DAP will push for federation reform to reinstate Sabah and Sarawak’s rights.

“Meanwhile, at state level, DAP Sabah will always champion for local interest. It’s been done since DAP started in Sabah in 1978,” said Phoong.

On the other hand, in response to Chia’s question over Pakatan Harapan component parties’ stance on DAP’s proposal, Phoong says that it is only right for DAP, as the second largest political party in the country, to champion for such institutional reforms.

“There is constant discussion among the component parties of Pakatan Harapan and PPBM (Bersatu) over common policy framework as well as election manifesto later. As far as DAP is concerned, we will fight for it and it is our genuine struggle,” he added.