Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) today insisted that the allocation and distribution of power to the state government is more important than any offer of deputy prime minister position at the federal level, following debate on the allocation of the post to the two Bornean states.
GPS secretary-general Alexander Nanta Linggi said the deputy prime minister position offered to Sabah and Sarawak might not make much difference as efforts to develop the two states require more allocations and approval for development projects from the federal administration.
"The important thing is power, not positions," he said when contacted by MalaysiaNow.
"If there are certain ministries such as the ones around now, with allocations included and approval for development projects, perhaps that is more important."
He was referring to the offer by Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of three deputy prime minister posts to represent the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak if the coalition wins the 15th general election (GE15).
"There's nothing wrong with having three deputy prime minister posts, nothing wrong," he said at an event in Kimanis, Sabah on Sunday.
"The Federal Constitution says nothing about the deputy prime minister's post. We'll see, there might be a deputy prime minister from Sabah."
His proposal was in line with suggestions by Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim, said to have been expressed since the days of Pakatan Rakyat.
When asked if the authority of the deputy prime minister's position should be listed in election manifestos, Alexander said this would be up to the contesting parties.
"If there is such a position, there must be certain portfolios so that it will be effective for the welfare of Sabah and Sarawak," he added.
Nevertheless, he said the focus at the moment was on winning GE15.
"If the time comes when this offer truly materialises, we will welcome it," he said.
"But for now, let us win first."
Sarawak's GPS has been at the forefront of calls for more power from the federal government, with the state succeeding in its claim on oil royalties as well as several measures showing it to be an equal partner under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
In April last year, Muhyiddin Yassin who was prime minister at the time, said that Sarawak was a region or "wilayah".
"I can’t say it’s a state because it’s big though the population is not big," he had said during a visit to Sarawak.
Early this year, meanwhile, Sarawak replaced the title of "chief minister" with "premier", an amendment made as part of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2022.
Just two months after Muhyiddin was sworn in following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government, meanwhile, national oil firm Petronas agreed to settle some RM2 billion in sales tax owed to Sarawak.