PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY DATUK DR JEFFREY KITINGAN ISSUED IN KOTA KINABALU TODAY 4TH MARCH 1991.
Dearest Friends and Fellow Sabahans
You must have heard or read Mahathir’s uncensored speech on the news on 21 February 1991. I only just came to know about it. It came as no surprise that Mahathir regards Sabah as his Colony. He has brought UMNO personally to Sabah to ensure complete control of the people of Sabah. He shows no respect for our elected leaders. He wants to appoint his own leaders and dictate terms to them. He thinks that Sabah is his domain and he can do anything as he likes with it. He thinks no one can stop him or the Kuala Lumpur leaders – they even threaten us with the armed forces, the police and the ACA. Kuala Lumpur’s true intention is finally openly known. Mahathir’s move to erode the 20 Points, which is the basis of Sabah agreeing to become one of the partners to the Federation of Malaysia, was a deliberate plan to reduce our status to that of a Colony of Malaya.
Former President Sukarno of Indonesia was right when he warned, at the time of the formation of Malaysia, that the colonial status of Sabah would not change through Malaysia – the only thing that would change, he said, is the transfer of Colonial office from London to Kuala Lumpur. Events and federal actions since 1963 have proven Sukarno’s view to be true indeed.
Sabahans were rushed and our leaders were tricked into forming the proposed federation of Malaysia. Read the books and facts leading to the formation of Malaysia and what followed and you will know.
Our leaders finally, but reluctantly, agreed to be part of the new federation provided certain conditions were agreed. After a series of negotiations, the leaders of Sabah, including Tun Mustapha, Tun Fuad Stephens, Khoo Siak Siew, Malayan and British representatives agreed to what is now known as the TWENT POINTS conditions. These conditions are VERY, VERY IMPORTANT for they mean that Sabah was actually and literally gaining independence through Malaysia. This was the intention and this was understood and agreed by all concerned at that time. We all supported this.
But things have changed. As soon as we became engrossed in our political, social and economic development, some of our past leaders became more and more concerned with their personal status and interest and less and less concerned with what was happening to the State as a whole. As these past leaders became ‘drunk’ with power, wealth and development, Kuala Lumpur leaders took the opportunity to changed Sabah’s status from that of an independence state federated with Malaya and Sarawak (and Singapore) to what we are today – back to being a Colony! Worse. In the process of doing so, federal leaders also made Sabahans gave up their oil rights, land and forests – all done so subtlety that Sabahans hardly noticed what was happening.
I was one of those who noticed what was happening and and realized where we were headed for. Without concerned of what might become of me and my family, and being in a position endowed with education and status, I thought it was my duty as a citizen of Malaysia and a true Sabahan to put things right by rising the 20 Points issue and the unfair attitudes of Kuala Lumpur towards Sabah, especially since 1985, into the open. The rest of the story you know. Now you know why the federal government never ceased harassing me and PBS leaders. Now you know what the ACA case brought against me was all about.
Kuala Lumpur knows and Mahathir knows that I AM RIGHT. They would rather get rid of leaders and intellectuals like me for questioning them than admit the truth of what they have been doing. They, Mahathir and some (not all KL leaders are like them) can indeed get rid of me and those of us who share the same view because they have the instruments of force with them – police, army, ACA, ISA, IRD, OSA, and others.
Tell me, is it wrong for to fight for the State and the people? Am I wrong in questioning Kuala Lumpur? Should I not ask for a better share of the State’s oil wealth? Am I wrong for fighting to free Sabah from colonization? Am I wrong in educating the people of Sabah of the true facts of our nation and our well being? Am I wrong in introducing new and revolutionary ideas in development so as to reduced poverty and unemployment and restore self respect and values to the people? If I am wrong, then we are all wrong for being right.
It is easy for me not to get involved in the affairs of the people, the State and the nation. Why should I care? Some people might ask. True, if I am concerned only for myself and the interest of my family – if I am selfish – I would indeed not get involved. I could just keep my positions, enjoy my fat salaries and laugh at what was happening. If I looked after the federal leaders and bribes law enforcement officials, etc. I would be protected and nothing would befall me. Is that what you wish me to do? I do not think so. Someone has to make a sacrifice. But this sacrifice would be fruitless and meaningless without your support and encouragement. You are the only power who can stop Mahathir and free us once more from the clutches of colonialism.
If raising the 20 POINTS and questioning Kuala Lumpur’s attitudes towards and actions Sabah is interpreted by Mahathir as promoting hatred among the people of Sabah and those in Peninsula Malaysia then he must either be stupid or a liar. I have many friends in Peninsula Malaysia. Some of my own relatives are married to Malaysians there and those who have occasion to know me, know what kind of person I am. I promote goodwill not hatred. It is Dr Mahathir who promotes and invites hatred. He insults the elected leaders of Sabah and deliberately lies and misleads the Malaysian people especially on religion and race issues. Remember the sigar case involving Tengku Razaleigh?
When I met Dr Mahathir in May 1990, I discussed with him several issues. I told him I was not there to discus personal problems but issues confronting federal-state affairs. One of the advice he gave me on 20 Points was this, he said “Jeffrey, these state rights and the 20 Points, the kampong people do not know about them, why should we tell them? Special Branch reports say that you and IDS are responsible for informing the people…”
For a moment I could not believe what he said because here was the Prime Minister of a nation who was telling me to continue fooling the people when it was our duty to educate them.
When I asked Dr Mahathir of increasing the shares of oil revenues to the state, he said “you were lucky the federal government gave you five precent. Remember, there was no oil in Sabah until Malaysia…”
What Mahathir was saying is that the State does not have any right to the oil and minerals and that God did not give us oil, Malaysia did.
On land matters, Dr Mahathir said, it is very difficult to get the State to release and approve land when the federal government agencies want it. He said land should be a federal matter.
This reflects the long term objective of Mahathir – to control land and forest, which is still under the State as stipulated by the 20 Points.
The other objective of Mahathir is to make Sabah a mere Colony or province of Malaya. He said “the State rights are temporary; Sabah should just be like Kedah or Perlis…”
This is clearly contrary to what was said by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman at the time of the formation of Malaysia when he said “Sabah and Sarawak will not be the 13th and 14th State of Malaya, for they shall be joining as equal partners (of Malaya) enjoying equal powers and status…”
When Malaysia was finally formed in September 1963, an agreement called the Malaysia Agreement was signed among the participating partners – Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak – binding the terms of the Agreement. The terms of the Agreement were such that many were tied together so that if one partner were to renege it would affect the other terms for the other partners, thus requiring a review, and a fresh agreement to be signed by the remaining partners. Singapore pulled out of the federation in 1965 thus invalidating the Malaysia Agreement, which was the basis for the Malaysia Federation. To me, unless Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak can sit down together, review, confirm or change the invalidated Malaysia Agreement, the legal basis of Malaysia has been invalidated. Why can’t we do that? Why are they afraid to discuss? Instead, the federal leaders especially Mahathir is using threats and persecutions to rid of us. This is the problem that we are now facing.
I am therefore deeply distress and shocked by the unjust and most unfair manner in which the Prime Minister of our nation making wild and unsubstantiated accusations against me, the IDS and the democratically elected PBS state government that he personally does not accept.
Judging from the public statements made by Mahathir and other UMNO leaders during their visit to Kota Kinabalu last week, the people in Sabah and the world at large, can see clearly that “might is right”.
The Prime Minister and other national leaders came to Sabah to demonstrate their power and might. They came to show that as long as they have federal powers, the police, the armed forces and those in Sabah who are willing to advance their ambition to impose UMNO’s will on the state and its people, these leaders are prepared to turn a blind eye to the legitimate rights of the PBS to rule at peace and without harassment.
This is indeed a sad day for the people of Sabah, for Malaysia, for our future generation. Now I can fully understand and sympathize with those at the recent USNO general assembly who openly and ashamedly cried. They like many of us who love the State and who treasure our legitimate rights are deeply hurt to see our own leaders in Sabah who are prepared to surrender our political and state power to Mahathir.
Mahathir has made very serious accusations against me. He said I was involved in the plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia and that I harbored ambitions to be President of an independent Sabah. He did not in any way substantiate these wild allegations. He did so in order to play in the gallery, to beg for loud applause from USNO delegates and observers. What about my rights as a citizen of Malaysia? Who gives the rights to our Prime Minister to assassinate the character of another Malaysian before such a large audience and on live TV and through the news media to the whole world? Is the Malaysian law meant only for the Kitingan, other PBS leaders and state officials only and those who do not tow the BN line and kow-tow to Kuala Lumpur?
To me, such behavior is most despicable and have no place in a country that claims to governed by democratic principles.. I have already been in touch with my legal councils to see what legal recourse I can take against the Prime Minister and others who have committed slanders and libel against me.
If I was at all involved in the so-called plot, the Prime Minister should use his powers to detain me and charge me in open court. Why has he not done his duty in the normal process of the law? Why did he make such dramatic statements at a political event? If it is a matter that involves the security of the nation, then it should be dealt with as such. Why make such a big play over it at the USNO congress. Yet he claims that all such actions have nothing to do with “political harassment”. What hypocrisy! Why is it that Jeffrey Kitingan becomes the “whipping boy” of Mahathir every time there is an USNO general assembly? To me this is a political persecution of the worse and cruelest kind.
Malaysians are not blind. They can see now that the PBS state government is under siege by the central powers through political (UMNO), physical threat of force (additional army battalion), ISA detentions, ACA charges, and IRD actions until such time when others who can accept their will without question can take over.
Is this what we bargained for when we agreed to form Malaysia in1963? No. Definitely not. We never agreed to down trodden like this and never agreed to be colonized by KL or anybody else.
I call on the PBS state government who are responsible to protect the rights of the people of Sabah to seriously take up the question of reviewing Sabah’s position in Malaysia with the federal government, officially, legally and through constitutional means.
What is the point of being the state government when its Chief Minister and other leaders are totally brushed aside and not allowed even to welcome the Prime Minister of the nation when he sets foot on Sabah soil? Who are really promoting anti-Malaysia sentiments and involved in anti-Malaysian actions? The Prime Minister and UMNO leaders are the guilty ones.
I will not bend to any of this oppressive federal plot against me and against the interests of Sabah. I stand by what I have said on the 20 Points, on other state rights, on the of fair and just treatment by federal authorities for Sabah as contained in my previous public statements.
TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF SABAH:
DO NOT DESPAIR; DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO GIVE UP HOPE, FOR GOD WILL HELP THOSE WHO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.
To the Civil Servants, to my staff at YS, IDS and ICSB – carry on and do your work cheerfully, skillfully and selflessly. Be devoted to your work and responsibilities. My mission is to see to it that we live in peace and freedom from suppression, oppression and injustices. Your mission is to free the people from the bondage of ignorance, poverty and sicknesses. Together we can build an economically progressive nation so we can all be more effective instruments of God to serve and love others.
To the students, I ask you to concentrate on your studies for you are the leaders of tomorrow. Use your time and mind to understand and discover the truth of our history and developments. Do not limit yourselves to books taught in schools or colleges for they only give you one side of the story. Go ahead and discover the whole truth. Understand what is life and what is freedom and justice. Read the Twenty Points and the Sabah Commemorative Book – Sabah 25 Years Later. Do not come to any conclusion until you know the truth. When you know the truth, you will know what to do.
To the parents, you are the guide posts in the rough seas of life. Guide your children to the truth and to the right destinations in life. Tell them what is happening in our country so they may give us a better tomorrow. Discipline is important but we must also the right attitude for children who will also learn from parents.
To husband, respect and look after your wives. She is your equal. She is your friend and partner. She knows a lot and she can help you know the difference between truths and untruths – between good and bad decisions. Do not take her for granted.
To the wives, love your husbands, and take good care of them. He is your partner, friend and advisor. He is also your critic. But he needs your guidance to discover the truth and understand our situation in Sabah.
To the people of Peninsula Malaysia, you are our friends. We need you to understand our situation in Sabah. We do not hate you as your leaders are telling you. Your leaders are creating hatred between us because of their own selfish political interests. We are being oppressed, harassed and unfairly treated. We are being colonized and controlled, so much so that, we have lost our democratic freedom and our dignity. Your leaders do. Do not sympathized with our cause but try to understand us and our situation. Only then you can do something for us. And only then you will know that the Kuala Lumpur leaders have been misleading the people of Peninsula Malaysia.
To the businessmen, your investment keep our economy going, and you help feed many of our families. Do not stop your investments. Help our economy grow so that this country can be progressive and fertile for more investments. Help make the cause of the people of Sabah succeed so you may succeed too.
To the leaders of Sabah politics, you are the leaders. Lead the people to their destination. Fight for their freedom and justice. Liberate this country from injustices, and from the bondage of colonialism. Be brave. Stick to your principles. Do not be tempted to abandon your fight for a few dollars. Do not betray your people for self interest of wealth, positions and non-harassments from your enemies. Differentiate between personal interests and public interests. All of us will die one day and your actions will be recorded in history. How much of your wealth and positions can you bring? Will your sons and daughters be proud of you? Asked yourself – “What is my mission? What is the cause I am fighting for? Is it to get my position and to get new ones, or is it to free this country from colonial oppression and injustices so that we all can live in peace and determine our own future? Am I fighting for myself or for my people? You are a leader; do not betray your country and your people. If you are confused, give yourself some time to think and to reflect. God will guide you to the right path. Do not be ashamed of correcting your mistakes. It is never too late. Remember we are all human beings. As a leader, your followers want direction, information and advice. They placed their hopes in you, and they expect you to be strong. Once you know what to do, waver not! The moment you do, you are not a leader. Once Kuala Lumpur controlled our lives, our policies, our resources, life will never be the same again in Sabah. So I say to you UNITE, stick together and lead as you have been elected to do. This is your country and politics is your life.
To the other federal leaders in Kuala Lumpur – some of you understand us. You know that some of your colleagues are being too much – are being unfair, even colonialistic in their actions and decisions. Why do you standby and watch injustices being done? You have good senses, why do you not make the others come to their senses?
What Mahathir, Ghafar Baba, Mohd Rahmat, Najib Razak and Megat Junid are doing, can no longer be tolerated. They threaten, they imprison, they lie and mislead Malaysians. Are they drunk? Are they mad? You are in a position to influence them to come to their senses and sound judgement and to tell the truth to the people. For us in Sabah, we have to react and respond. We are forced to. We hope you will understand.
To the officers and staff of law enforcement agencies: the police, armed forces, ACA etc. You are the protector of the people. I urge you to protect the innocent and the freedom fighters. Do not obey your orders blindly. Think carefully of what the politicians tell you to do. Are they protecting the people or themselves when they order you to arrest freedom fighters? I am not a threat to the people but I may be a threat to Mahathir. I am the voice of the people. And I am your voice too. Let you be the instrument of peace and the protector of the people, not the oppressors. Go after the oppressors and let them be judged by the people.
To my friends and all right thinking people, you are the hope of our people and our coming generation. This is not my fight alone. This is a fight for all caring human beings. A fight for freedom, from oppression, injustices, colonialism is a fight for human rights. It is my task to carry this load to our common destination. If I were to fail, you must be ready to carry on. When we reach our destination successfully, the benefits are yours. I seek no position but only to see that you are free, at peace, happy and progressive. It is time that the destiny of this country is truly determined by your people, so that the fruit of your endowment, your labour, competition and co-operation are enjoyed by all, irrespective of your origins or beliefs. This is our destination. Let us reach it together.
I hope you now have a clearer picture of what is going on and why Dr Mahathir is sending all his ‘men’ after us in PBS. As I said, I am not looking for position or fighting to keep my position but I am proud to be fighting for the freedom of Sabah and the Sabahans. Remember that as long as one of us Sabahans imprisoned under ISA, all of us are prisoner and none of us are free. And as long as one of us is harassed fighting for the cause of the people, all of us are being harassed.
Pray for me,
(DATUK DR JEFFREY KITINGAN)