Stephens closes Upko for unity
Published on: Saturday, January 08, 2022
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Stephens dissolves Upko for bumiputra unity 

1967: The United Pasokmomogun Kadazan Organisation (Upko) was dissolved at a five-hour Party congress at the Community Centre that was attended by more than 400 representatives throughout Sabah. 

Its President Donald Stephens (pic) said the only road to bumiputra unity was to have one bumiputra Party and called on members to follow him in joining Usno. 

He also suggested there be only one bumiputra Party for the whole of Malaysia and pledged loyalty to Usno President Tun Datu Mustapha, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, Deputy Tun Razak and the Alliance leaders. 

He hoped the Sabah Indian Congress (SIC) and the Sabah Chinese Association (SCA) will help Upko return to the Sabah Alliance as Usno members. 

Dato Ganie Gilong seconded the motion. Secretary-General Peter Mojuntin said he agreed only because he was convinced bumiputra unity was the key to future happiness, peace and prosperity of Sabahans. 

Twenty divisional representatives supported, while two - Kuala Penyu and Tenom - opposed. They said they would rather die than dissolve the Party and join Usno. 

The Kuala Penyu delegate demanded that Upko Deputy President Dato GS Sundang be called back from England, where he is convalescing after an illness. 

(It was Sundang, an ex-Deputy Chief Minister, who formed Pasok-momogun in 1961 and later teamed up with Stephens’ United National Kadazan Organisation to form Upko). 

Stephens first moved to have Upko dissolved at a party national council meeting on Dec. 11. 

He said continuous quarrelling among bumiputras in Usno and Upko had damaged bumiputra unity. He said the move should have been carried out “long ago, but pride, racial prejudice and the desire to win and be on top has stopped us from doing so.” 

He said the Alliance in Sabah did not succeed in the past because there were two bumiputra Parties claiming to represent the Bumiputras. 

He said one reason why Upko did not get along with Usno is because the latter was regarded as being too dependent on Umno and Kuala Lumpur. 

“This meant we were distrustful of Umno and Umno leaders. Such being the case, how can we expect them to trust us? It is well that we realise...that if we consider ourselves bumiputras, then we must also accept their leaders as our national bumiputra leaders. 

“Our great mistake has been to refuse the hand of friendship and brotherhood offered to us by our bumiputra brothers in Malaya. This hand was offered when we accepted Malaysia. The door for us was open but we refused to enter because we have been accustomed to think of them as different and had learned to be suspicious of them.” 

Saying that it was not too late, Stephens added: 

“Some of you may say it is a complete about-face on my part. It is not. I have always wanted bumiputra unity...this can be done by agreeing to dissolve our Party and joining Usno. 

“Usno is now in power...so it is only right that we take this initiative. False pride has done enough damage to our bumiputra people in Sabah. I have made up my mind. Come what may I will never regret it...I do not mind being called a coward because I know that in all my life what I am doing today is the most courageous decision I have yet made.” 

Stephens also made some references to the 20-Point agreement that facilitated the entry of Sabah and Sarawak into Malaysia. 

“These Points are important but their importance has been magnified because of our being in the opposition. 

“I do not say that we are throwing away the 20 Points by joining Usno because Usno has made it clear that it has no intention of doing away with the 20 Points. 

“We cannot survive on our own and so agreed to form a new nation, the Malaysian nation. But after it was formed we showed by our actions that our faith and trust in the people of Malaya, especially of our Malay brothers, were limited. 

“This distrust and suspicion coloured every aspect of our relations with the Federal Government. Tun Datu Mustapha showed complete trust in the national leaders and as a result received their trust and sup-port. If Umno had helped Usno during the elections, it was because they felt that Usno was their friend. 

“And if they did go against us, it was because they felt the course we were taking was aimed at not only disuniting the bumiputra.s but also at breaking up Malaysia. 

“The net result of this analysis is that we should go back to the Alliance but not on the old basis. It should be on the basis of our joining Usno en bloc, dissolving Upko.” 

Stephens concluded by saying that his political career had ended and will not head any political movement. 

Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman congratulated Stephens the following day on the dissolution move. He described it as an act of patriotism unsurpassed in Malaysia. 

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