“The Kuching Declaration is better than Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) stand and looks good on paper in various aspects. On the other hand, in some aspects, it is not much different from Umno/BN especially in the treatment of the status of Sabah and Sarawak” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, in response to queries from the press on the Kuching Declaration signed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Kuching on Malaysia Day 2012.
“Giving credit where it is due, the Kuching Declaration is the first step in the right direction for PR and it will add pressure on Umno/BN to follow suit. It may augur well for the Borneo States if there is follow through by PR and or Umno/BN in the treatment of Sabah and Sarawak” added Dr. Jeffrey.
For example, Umno/BN would now need to raise the oil revenue for Sabah and Sarawak from 5% to 20% and this additional income, if put to good and proper use, will definitely contribute to the well-being of Sabah, Sarawak and their people. And if Umno/BN does not increase the oil revenue to 20%, BN component parties in Sabah and Sarawak should re-assess their position and pull out from BN for the sake of Sabah and Sarawak and their future.
Sabah, Sarawak still the 12th and 13th States
Sabah and Sarawak are truly equal partners to Malaya. However, it is not correct to say that the equal partnership is based on the Federal Constitution which means keeping the status quo of Sabah and Sarawak being the 12th and 13th States.
This is not what the founding fathers of Malaysia, be they be from Malaya, Sabah or Sarawak, envisaged or was as promised by Malaya.
In the Malaysia Act that was passed by the Malaya Parliament in 1963 and Article 1 of the Federal Constitution that was amended with effect on 16 September 1963, Sabah and Sarawak were not to be the 12th and 13th States. Section 4 of the Malaysia Act and Article 1 of the 1963 Federal Constitution reads:-
“THE STATES OF THE FEDERATION
4. (1) The Federation shall be known, in Malay and in English, by the name Malaysia.
(2) The States of the Federation shall be—
(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu ; and
(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak ; and
(c) the State of Singapore.”
To be true equal partners, both BN and PR need to re-amend the Federal Constitution and revert back to the old provision to set Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Malaya.
Judging from the statements of the Prime Minister and PR, this looks easy since both sides are acknowledging that Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners with Malaya. This can easily be done at the next Parliament session next week and there is no need to wait until the next general elections.
Unless of course, both the Prime Minister and PR are not sincere in treating Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners and do not mean what they say and they did not say what they mean.
Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaya?
The ignorance, misunderstanding or insincerity of the Prime Minister is also clear from his statement that Sabah and Sarawak joined and gained their independence through Malaysia. Nothing is further from the truth as even our Sabah students in the universities will tell you that Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaya or Malaysia and that Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia with Singapore and Malaya in 1963.
This ignorance, misinformation and misunderstanding is widespread amongst BN parliamentarians including that from Kota Belud and the lawyer from Sandakan. The latter even gave an example of Sabah being similar to Hawaii who joined the USA in 1959 and yet still celebrated Independence Day on 4th of July and the same example was carried by Bernama.
When did Sabah ever join Malaysia?
Wasn’t Malaysia formed as a new nation on 16 September 1963?
When did Malaysia gained independence when it never existed before that?
And who were the colonial masters of Malaysia, if ever there were one?
Oil Justice Still Injustice?
Increasing the oil royalties from 5% to 20% is not oil justice. In any event, it is wrong to refer to it as oil royalties when it is clear in Section 4 of the Petroleum Development Act, 1974, it is cash payment. The cash payment was supposed to be in return for ownership rights of the oil and that is also supposed to be mutually agreed upon by the State government concerned and Petronas. The cash payment is also clearly spelt out in Clauses 1, 2 and 3 of the Sabah Oil Agreement, 1976.
To do justice for Sabah and Sarawak’s oil, the PR leaders as well as the State leaders need to study in-depth the PDA as well as the oil agreements that were signed in 1976.
As regards oil royalties, it is clear in Clause 4 of the Sabah Oil Agreement that the Sabah government was made to agree to waive or reject its rights to collect royalties which the State would otherwise have been entitled to collect under Section 24 of the Sabah Land Ordinance, Cap. 68.
Sabah and Sarawak have been deprived of their rights to oil royalties. Therefore, how can PR pledge to increase the oil royalties without first pledging to review and revise the existing oil agreements?
On the other hand, is PR meaning in its pledge to increase the 5% cash payment to 20%? If that is the case, what about the oil royalty rights of Sabah and Sarawak?
Is PR intending to also allow Sabah and Sarawak to impose oil royalties on top of the 20% cash payment?
What about the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak?
Shouldn’t PR seek the views of these people?
After all, the oil and gas comes out of Sabah’s and Sarawak’s territories, the oil and gas belongs to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
There is no dispute, the oil and gas originally belonged to Sabah and Sarawak until the late Tun Abdul Razak, father of the current Prime Minister, signed away and vested the oil and gas in Sabah and Sarawak to Petronas on 26 March 1975.
How can Tun Abdul Razak sign and vest the oil and gas to Petronas when it belonged to Sabah and Sarawak? Such a vesting to Petronas has to be unconstitutional and invalid?
If PR and their leaders are sincere and genuine about the oil rights, they should first restore and return these oil rights to Sabah and Sarawak and then re-negotiate for the States to contribute a portion of the oil revenue to the federal government/Petronas.
Until the oil rights are returned to Sabah and Sarawak, the 20% oil revenue will still be oil injustice and not oil justice as alleged although it is much better than the 5% under the current BN.
Is Fair Representation/Equal Partnership Genuine or Indirect Annexation of Sabah/Sarawak?
There is a serious issue of the genuineness and seriousness of the fair representation and equal partnership of Sabah and Sarawak with Malaya as promoted by PR and many questions come to mind?
If PR is serious or genuine, why is there no local political parties participation in Sarawak?
What about the local parties in Sabah?
As all 3 PR components are Malayan-based, who are their local partners in Sabah and Sarawak?
It appears to be their subservient Sabah and Sarawak branches but not with local parties?
Why is this so?
And what are their intentions in side-lining local parties?
Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan are already treating Sabah as “fixed deposits” which is an insult to the people of Sabah. This is tantamount to a political annexation of Sabah and overall control of Sabah with its vast and rich resources.
The formula of no local political parties in PR for Sabah and Sarawak smells of a similar political annexation of and keeping control ofSabah and Sarawakwith their rich resources as the 12th and 13th States.
The fair representation must also take into consideration the constitutional safeguards guaranteed for Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in 1963 with Malaya getting not more than 65% of the parliamentary seats and taking into consideration the size and potentialities of Sabah and Sarawak. This is one of the safeguards emplaced for Sabah and Sarawak.
Therefore, parties from Malaya should not be contesting and taking the seats in Sabah and Sarawak. Even if the Borneo States get their seats restored to 35%, Sabah and Sarawak would be defenceless and hopeless if these 35% seats are controlled by Malayan parties.
Fair representation should also be applied to all sectors and not just confined to parliamentary seats and should include posts in the government service, foreign and diplomatic service, government agencies and government-linked corporations (GLCs).
Rights of Indigenous Natives of Sabah and Sarawak
As for native customary land rights, the issue is not restoration as these rights have always been in place. It is not a question of restoration but of respecting and implementing these rights.
The problems are compounded when the people are denied the land rights and the same land occupied by the natives are alienated to cronies and companies to the extent of tens of thousands of acres. These companies not only rob the natives of their lands but also destroy their homes, crops and are often evicted from their own lands.
In addition, the special rights and position of the indigenous natives of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution needs to be affirmatively implemented.
Under Article 153, the rights of the indigenous natives are not inferior to the Malays in the Peninsular. They are equal in status and entitled to the privileges as contained in Article 153 and should not be denied these privileges in implementation by the government of the day.
If these privileges and equal status were not guaranteed in 1963, it would be doubtful whether the Sabah and Sarawak founding fathers would have agreed to form Malaysia with Malaya.
Borneonisation, Competent Sabah and Sarawak and Federal Agencies
Endorsement of appointments of Sabahans and Sarawakians is not new as these appointments were clearly spelt out in the 20-Points and the IGC Report.
What Sabahans and Sarawakians are seeking are not just borneonisation of the civil service in their States and the federal agencies and departments there?
Due recognition, appointments and roles need to be provided for Sabahans and Sarawakians at national and international levels of the civil service at federal level.
In addition, the federal government need to review the roles and presence of federal agencies in Sabah and Sarawak and many of these agencies and their roles can be better handled with costs savings by the relevant State agencies.
There is no necessity for Risda, Felda, Felcra and many others to be in Sabah and Sarawak which eventually make local agencies and local staff redundant. It would have been better if the funds of these agencies are channeled to the State governments and the relevant agencies concerned.
Reverse Focus of Development to Sabah and Sarawak more Appropriate than Equitable Development
Whilst it is appreciated that PR promises equitable infrastructure development, it should not just be confined to infrastructure alone. For 49 years, Sabah and Sarawak have been deprived of its legitimate and fair share of development funds and denied the opportunity of development focus.
The sufferings of Sabahans and Sarawakians have gone on for too long. Their miseries are compounded by the huge amounts of oil revenue taken from Sabah and Sarawak. In 2012, Petronas is expected to collect RM28.69 billion from Sarawak’s oil and gas and RM14.73 billion from Sabah’s oil. In addition, in 2011, Sabah contributed RM22.7 billion in federal taxes and revenue to the federal government.
Judging from the huge and monstrous amounts taken by the federal government, a promise of equitable development is not inadequate to compensate for the deprivation of the last 49 years.
It would be more equitable and fairer to Sabah and Sarawak for the federal government to reverse its focus of development to Sabah and Sarawak. A quantum leap in development funds will raise all indicators of development, investment and progress and contribute positively to Malaysia’s overall growth.
Other than a reverse of the focus of development, anything else will comeus short. Sabah and Sarawak should not be short-changed anymore.
The Prime Minister again short-changed and duped Sarawakians when he announced on the eve of Malaysia Day in Sibu, Sarawak, that he approved an additional 342 federal projects worth RM2.32 billion for Sarawak since he took over the premiership in 2009.
To add insult to injury, he was reported to have said that this was indicative of the sincerity of the federal government in helping the state to progress.
What is RM2.32 billion over 3 years when Sarawak contributed about RM30 billion to Petronas in 2011 alone and another RM26.89 billion expected for 2012?
The insincerity is apparent when during his premiership, RM9 billion was only approved for Sabah and Sarawak with RM100 billion going to Malaya in the development spending under the initial 10th Malaysia Plan budget.
Sabah and Sarawak should leverage on their “Kingmakers” role
In the forthcoming 13th general elections, it is very likely that Sabah and Sarawak will once again be kingmakers in deciding who rules in Putrajaya. The people of Sabah and Sarawak and the leaders in Sabah and Sarawak need to understand this window of opportunity for Sabah and Sarawak to leverage on their role as kingmakers.
This will be the golden opportunity for Sabah and Sarawak to regain and restore their lost rights and autonomy and not leave it to the Malayan parties to decide on their future.
As for STAR Sabah, its focus and objective for Sabah is very clear and fully set out in the Borneo Agenda and its 7 core objectives. This will regain and restore Sabah’s rights and autonomy which will also propel Sabah into an autonomous, safe and progressive nation within Malaysia.