Published on: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: The call for a review of the safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak and their status as equal partners to Malaya by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah needs to be brought up in parliament.
It must be fully supported by all the MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, if it is to succeed, said Star Sabah Chief, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Commenting on the former Federal Finance Minister's call at a talk on Thursday, he said, while it was 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 was 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," he said, in a statement, Friday.
Razaleigh said that the review was 40 years late but still 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.
"The downgrading and treatment of Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th StatesÉmust stop and put to an end. The parallel government in Sabah through the Federal Secretary's office must also be abolished and removed and the government of Sabah fully autonomous and everything concerning Sabah channelled 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.
"The wanton amendment of the Federal Constitution on July 28, 1976 down-grading Sabah and Sarawak to be the 12th and 13th States is not only despicable but treason and traitor-like in the eyes of Sabahans," he said. Dr Jeffrey said the analogy of the USA used by former Inspector-General of Police, Tun Haniff, was unfortunate and misleading.
"To put the record straight, he said, the USA was formed in 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, he said the Federation of Malaya was formed and gained independence from the British on Aug 31, 1957. Sarawak gained her independence on July 22, 1963 and Sabah on Aug 31, 1963.
Then, on Sept 16, 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.
"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," he said.
He added there should have been a new Constitution 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 had been amended nearly 600 times, not only eroding the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak but also eroding the rights and privileges including immunity of the royal Malay rulers, he said.
"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 Aug 31, 1957 is sheer distortion of history," he said.
"While the suggestion to form a parliamentary caucus or Malaysia Review Committee by Razaleigh 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.
"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 time, 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," he said.