Published on: Friday, September 13, 2013
Fielding questions from Daily Express after the Sabah Society "Forum on Formation of Malaysia - Sabah's Untold Story" at Shangri La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Wednesday, he said that first appointed Chief Minister Donald Stephens (later Tun Fuad) did not play any role in it.
However, as Chairman of the Malaysia Solidarity Committee, a copy was duly forwarded to him (Stephens) by Khoo Siak Choo of the Sabah Chinese Association, he said.
He said an additional seven points were added to the draft list by Sabah alliance party leaders in a meeting at Jesselton Hotel that paved the way for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.
Lo, who is Sabah's first local lawyer, said he had taken the draft of 13 points from the British North Borneo Attorney General Ken Jones in Sandakan and later presented it at a meeting with other Sabah leaders, including Kwan Yue Meng who opposed the merger, in Jesselton, as Kota Kinabalu was then known (for the additional seven points).
"Stephens was never involved but he was given a copy after it was completed and cleared with the Cobbold Commission people.
We then gave the completed list to Khoo who passed it to Stephens."
Earlier at the forum, Lo, 90 said he went to see Jones with two others on the matter. Lo who was Chief Minister from 1962 until 1965 also sought help from Berjaya Government Chief Minister, Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who was sitting beside him at the forum, on some events that led to the listing of the 20-points.
"He (Harris) was my Finance Minister at that time and he advised me on a lot of things," said Lo. Going back to the meeting, Lo and Harris said they managed to add seven more points before lunch.
"We were satisfied with what was added to it and some were very good points, which were accepted by Tun Abdul Razak," he said.
Asked by forum moderator Dr Heng Aik Cheng about the Sabah Chinese community's view on the formation of Malaysia, Lo said he did not think the Chinese were against the move because they knew that as a minority there is no reason for them to create trouble.
However, he admitted that not all from the Chinese community supported the idea.
"I would not say fully (support) you will never get full agreement," he said.
Harris in his talk said the 20-Points adopted by the Sabah alliance was listed down on a fullscap paper, later typed properly, and incorporated into the Federal Constitution.
As such, the 20-Points, which formed the safeguards for Sabah in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, was no more since it had been included in the Malaysia Constitution.
The formation of Malaysia was not difficult as the safeguards were there in the constitution and "if there is something wrong it should be blamed on our representatives from Sabah in Parliament" for supporting or being silent on policies affecting state rights.
Looking back, Harris said when Malaysia was formed the people of Sabah were not prepared.
That was why some comical incidents happened to representatives from Sabah who were brought to Kuala Lumpur to see the development there.
"As Tan Sri Ghani Gilong said some of them never felt air conditioning and quite a number were found sleeping in the bathroom of their hotel room. That is the story 50 years ago I don't mind telling about them now," he said.
According to him, when Tunku Abdul Rahman announced the proposal to form the Federation of Malaysia on May 27, 1961 he was working with the Secretariat as a clerk, among others, paying claims of the honourables.
He rubbed shoulders with the honourables and his political career began. He said not everyone liked the idea of Sabah gaining independence through Malaysia and he used the word "not happy" to describe the feeling of the British North Borneo Attorney General at that time because they were not confident with the ability of Sabahans to govern themselves.
However, locals started to form political parties and he became the Secretary General of Usno and in the first election in Sabah he stood in Tanjung Aru in 1962 and won in a friendly contest with a SCA candidate by 13 votes.
He recalled that Usno President Tun Mustapha and Unko President Donald were called by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tunku Abdul Razak to Kuala Lumpur to discuss the proposal.
"There was no question asked because Malaya had developed very well.
The three races there had no problems.
"In fact when we started in Sabah there were no religious and race issues but now as I look at it we are more divided É that they don't talk much among them anymore," he said.
Harris quipped that perhaps there is a need to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate why the people are more divided now.
He also said that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie were instrumental in the formation of Malaysia in that they managed to convince certain people to accept the idea.
Nonetheless, he recalled reading the minutes of one of the four Consultative Committee meetings chaired by Fuad that happened to be in Kuching about Lee Kuan Yew reading a newspaper while a Chinese representative from Sabah was making a point to the committee.
According to the minutes, before the chairman could ask, Lee had spoken that "this view from Sabah is not worth listening."
Harris said there were a lot of discussions but the point now is that there was nothing wrong with the system of Malaysia, especially the law and federation.
"Well a lot of laws are not right but that can be amended by Parliament but what is wrong is our representatives (as) are not saying anything (on) the restrictive policies for us to move forward," he said.
"But whatever it is, the choice of Malaysia was the right thing to do.
"Bearing in mind we were under pressure from Indonesia's Soekarno and Philippine's Macapagal.
"I think they (Malaya leaders) are very fair to us É I was assistant to Mustapha so I was there all the time and they did not say anything not conducive to Sabah.
"We never felt inferior. We were treated as equal.
Of course they had more knowledge and experience and they guided us," he said, adding that despite some objections some of the British officers also guided the Sabah founding leaders.