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Making the Borneo Voice heard
Published on: Saturday, September 30, 2023
By: Hayati Dzulkifli and James Sarda
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Making the Borneo Voice heard
Kota Kinabalu: Realisation of a Borneo Voice by the Sabah and Sarawak governments that finally materialised after GE15 is not to go against Federal but be united as Malaysians of Bornean origin and have one voice both inside and outside parliament.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor said it was due to circumstances and turned out to be a win-win for both the new Unity Federal Government and the Bornean states, as it satisfied and safeguarded the interests of both partners.

“I believe this has been positive for us. We are in one country where we live and die in Malaysia. We hope when Sabah and Sarawak decided to form one voice, they (peninsula leaders) will not see it, negatively.

“This is founded with an aim to voice our common interests and not to pick a fight with them (Federal Government).

“Having us as one in Malaysian Borneo is better so that we can decide in favour of democracy,” he said in an exclusive interview with Daily Express to mark three years as the State’s Chief Executive.

He said as everyone can see, it is the Borneo states that, for the first time, ensured political stability in Malaysia following a hung parliament and years of political instability.

Hajiji was referring to the 56 Members of Parliament (25 MPs from Sabah and 31 from Sarawak) under the Borneo umbrella now solidly backing the Unity Government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, so that it won’t be distracted and go about the business nation-building.

What has helped greatly in this regard was the passage of the anti-hop law which for the first time forbade MPs from switching sides for suspected financial consideration or positions as had happened in the past.

“We in Sabah and Sarawak are bigger than the peninsula, and yet we (Sabah and Sarawak) have been lagging behind (in development). 

“That is the purpose of forming this Borneo platform. We do not want to argue or go against the Federal Government,” he said, “except to ensure that what has been agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is fulfilled.”

In fact, he said, under the current situation, the Federal leaders are happy as Sabah and Sarawak support the leadership of Anwar under Pakatan Harapan (PH). “Look at it from a positive angle.”

Hajiji, who has had experience dealing with the previous Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and PH federal governments, said each had its own strengths.

“BN had a good administration as it had been governing for so long while PN’s governance was also fine.

“But in today’s atmosphere, PH seems to have more appropriate and inclusive policies which are necessary for a multiracial society with people of different backgrounds, religions, races and customs, and who come under the calling of Malaysians.

“In the context of our country after 60 years of independence, the Government needs to take care of its 35 million people, regardless of ethnic origin. To me, this is most important as we cannot marginalise other races or minorities,” he said.

He said Sabah and Sarawak are different in many ways to the extent that even some Peninsular Malaysians find the two Bornean states more Malaysian in character than peninsula.

“The situation needs to be rectified so that we can become a prosperous and fair country seen by foreign countries. 

“In fact, it is not difficult for me to accept this Malaysian concept. I have in-laws who are strong Christians and are close to me. 

“Furthermore, I went to a Mission school such as St John in Tuaran with Chinese during my school days in Forms 3 and 4. 

“I used to be taken by friends to church and even sit inside. No problem. They never asked me to follow their faith.

“Sabah is harmonious and have an interactive society that practices mutual respect for one other, which is different in the peninsula.

“There is a mix of races in Sabah due to a lot of intermarriages where Muslim Bumiputras marry non-Muslim Bumiputra Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) and the Chinese make friends with other races.

“No issue for Sabah people to interact and be friends with each other irrespective of race, culture and faith,” he said.

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