The communications and multimedia ministry is said to be changing the branch names of all agencies under its purview in Sabah and Sarawak following Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s move on his official visit to Sarawak last week to refer to it as a region instead of a state.
A source from the ministry told the PN BBC portal that a decision had been made on the matter at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
“The ministry has acted to expand the directive issued by the government following the instructions of the Cabinet,” it was quoted as saying.
The source also said that the new term would be used in news reports, including on government television stations and by all relevant parties.
Muhyiddin, during his visit to Sarawak, had said that Sarawak was a region or “wilayah”.
“From now on, we should not forget that Sarawak is a ‘region’, ‘wilayah’. I feel like it is a great region. I can’t say it’s a state because it’s big though the population is not big,” he said at a lunch event with GPS leaders on April 2.
He also repeated his assurance that Sarawak’s claims would be considered fairly, in line with the Federal Constitution and the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Karim Hamzah welcomed Muhyiddin’s remarks, saying Sabah and Sarawak cannot be categorised as states like the other states in the peninsula.
“Their formation is different. They are included under what we call the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.
“Malaysia was formed in 1963, the Malaysia Agreement. At that time, the Federation of Malaya was already established.
“We cannot be part of the smaller states. How can you put Perlis and Sarawak at the same level?”
Reiterating that Sabah and Sarawak cannot be treated as “just another state”, he said he fully agreed that they should be called by a different name.
“‘Wilayah’ is a good term,” he said, adding that the federal government would one day need to amend the constitution so that these issues can be recorded.