“We are not seeking or demanding additional rights or taking away any rights from any other State but only seeking what has been agreed upon in the formation of Malaysia and rightly ours”
By Dr Jeffrey G Kitingan
“The call for a review of the safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak and their status as equal partners to Malaya by Tengku Razaleigh or more affectionally known as Ku Li needs to be brought up in Parliament and must be fully supported by all the MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, if it is to succeed ” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in commenting on Ku Li’s call to review the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.
While it is refreshing and unprecedented to hear the call from a Peninsula politician, and a senior Umno MP at that, the issue of the treatment and status of the Borneo States is nothing new. Sabahans particularly since the 1980s have been clamouring strongly for a review and implementation of the Malaysia Agreement and the restoration of the equal status, rights and autonomy of Sabah.
Ku Li said, the review is 40 years late but it is better late than never. If the injustices inflicted on the Borneo States and the grievances of the people are not addressed, the problem will not go away but fester and may grow out of hand. By then, it will be too late to save the break-up of the federation.
The down-grading and treatment of Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th States and colonies of Malaya masquerading as Malaysia and the government of Malaya masquerading as the federal government of Malaysia must stop and put to an end. The parallel government in Sabah through the federal secretary office must also be abolished and removed and the government of Sabah be fully autonomous and everything concerning Sabah must be channel via the Sabah government.
The founding fathers of Malaysia, be they from Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak or Sabah, even from Britain, never envisaged that Sabah and Sarawak would be the 12th and 13th States and colonies of Malaya as the initial proposed was rejected by the Borneo territories.
The wanton amendment of the Federal Constitution on 28 July 1976 down-grading Sabah and Sarawak to be the 12th and 13th States and colonies of Malaya clearly shows the contempt and “colonial-masters” mindset of the Malayan leaders towards Sabah and Sarawak. Such an amendment is not only despicable but treason and traitor-like in the eyes of Sabahans.
The analogy of the USA used by Tun Haniff is most unfortunate and misleading. In layman terms, it is comparing apple to orange. It is the same analogy and thinking of Umno/BN leaders who can’t seem to understand and comprehend the difference between the formation of the USA and Malaysia. Perhaps, it is part of their Umno/BN indoctrination and brain-washing by the federal powers/Malayan leaders.
To put the record straight, the USA was formed in the 1776 by the 13 founding States. Subsequently, the other 37 States joined the USA and the nation grew larger with these additional States. The name of the nation never changed, it always has been the good old United States of America and the Constitution of USA was only amended several times since 1776.
On the other hand, the Federation of Malaya was formed and gained independence from the British on 31 August 1957. Sarawak gained her independence on 22 July 1963 and Sabah on 31 August 1963. Then, on 16 September 1963, the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed a new nation through a merger known as Malaysia.
Malaysia never existed before 1963 and Malaysia is not the Federation of Malaya. But today Malaya has converted itself as Malaysia. Where is the Federation of Malaya today if it is not masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th States of Malaya?
The Borneo States are not supposed to be the 12th and 13th States be it Malaysia or Malaya but as equal partners of equal status with safeguards that were agreed upon.
“We are not seeking or demanding additional rights or taking away any rights from any other State but only seeking what has been agreed upon in the formation of Malaysia and rightly ours” emphasized Dr. Jeffrey.
There should have been a new Constitution of Malaysia but the Constitution of Malaya was adopted to be the Federal Constitution of Malaysia with the excuse that there was no time. Since 1963, the Federal Constitution has been amended nearly 600 times not only in eroding the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak but also eroding the rights and privileges including immunity of the royal Malay rulers.
Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore never joined Malaya and never joined Malaysia. This part of history has always been twisted and manipulated to the extent of being re-written in our history books and wrongly taught to our young. To keep harping on Malay nationalism in fighting for the independence of Malaysia is nothing but sheer lies and imposing on Sabahans and Sarawakians to celebrate the independence of Malaysia on 31 August 1957 is sheer distortion of history.
With due respect to Tun Haniff, Sabah and Sarawak never joined Malaysia. Without Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia would not exist today. What would exist without Sabah and Sarawak would be the Federation of Malaya with the 11 original States (plus perhaps the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya). On the other hand, in the USA, without the other newer 37 States, the USA would still exist today with the original 13 founding States.
The problem on the formation of Malaysia will not be solved without correcting and rectifying the distortions and manipulations on the true facts of history.
While the suggestion to form a parliamentary caucus or Malaysia Review Committee by Ku Li is lauded, the real solution lies in an amendment of the Federal Constitution and a truly sincere implementation of the Malaysia Agreement with the re-activation of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) or an equivalent. The British government needs to be involved as well as they have failed in their trusteeship responsibilities towards Sabah and Sarawak and failed to see that the implementation of the promises, assurances and recommendations of the IGC were properly carried out.
After 50 miserable years including the “stealing” of Sabah and Sarawak’s oil and gas resources, it is an opportune time for the federal/Malayan leaders to show sincerity and true leadership in restoring the equal status, rights and autonomy of the Borneo States. At the same, Sabah and Sarawak leaders need to unite to seek and demand for the restoration of these rights for the future of the generations of Sabah and Sarawak to come.