Press Statement By Chong Chieng Jen:
DAP Sarawak is as much a Sarawak local party as any Sarawak-based party, but in addition, we have the advantage of having a strong national backing to influence the national policy for the interest of Sarawak. While we maintain our autonomy in all matters in Sarawak, we are able to influence the national politics through the national platform of DAP Malaysia.
The DAP Sarawak’s autonomy within the party DAP is manifest in that:
- All the DAP Sarawak committee members are elected by the members in Sarawak DAP Branches. They are all Sarawakians.
- the selection of DAP candidates in Sarawak elections is decided by DAP Sarawak, not by the national Central Executive Committee.
- In 2015, while DAP national was still in Pakatan Rakyat, DAP Sarawak made the decision to quit the Pakatan Rakyat.
- In the 2018 General Elections, while the national DAP decides to use the PH logo to contest, DAP Sarawak maintained that we should use the “Rocket” symbol to contest.
As part of a national party, DAP Sarawak is also able to bring the local Sarawak issues into the limelight and their rightful places in national politics.
In fact, the notion about Sarawak’s equal partnership and special position and rights within Malaysia first gained national attention in year 2012 when the then Pakatan Rakyat national leaders endorsed the Kuching Declaration in Kuching on 16.9.2012.
Up till then, no local political party, not even the then governing Sarawak Barisan Nasional Government, was able to make 16 th September an important date nationally.
In 2014, DAP Sarawak launched the Bintulu Declaration on the demand for devolution of power and State autonomy in healthcare and education. That started the talk of Sarawak autonomy at the Federal level.
Therefore, regardless how strong a local party is, without the national backing and platform, it can never influence national politics. DAP has been and must continue to be the vehicle to push Sarawak issues to national level. This will ensure that federal policies are made with the full appreciation of the unique Sarawak elements.
We have gone through 50 years of history where DAP did not have a strong presence in Sarawak.
That was also the time when the rights of Sarawak were eroded most. During those days, at certain point in time, there was also strong local opposition parties, the heydays of SNAP and PBDS, but these local-based parties could not make any impact on national politics. Worse still, they could not even withstand the test of time.
Even in the case of an NGO or organisation, a national NGO or organisation will be given more prominence and regarded more highly than a state-based NGO or organisation.
Therefore, the fact that DAP is a national party and that DAP Sarawak is part of this organisation is an added advantage to DAP Sarawak and not a liability. As part of this national party, we have a louder voice nationally and will be able to achieve more and fight for more rights for the interest of Sarawak than we standing alone.