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‘Razak rejected request for Sabah review’

KOTA BELUD: A former assemblyman, who served as a minister under Mustapha Harun’s Usno government, claimed that then prime minister Razak Hussein had in 1973 refused a request by the Sabah Alliance for a review of the assurances contained in the Malaysia Agreement and the 20-points as well as in the Inter-Governmental Report (IGC).

Ismail Gimbad, who was the Sorob (now Kadaimaian) assemblyman, said Razak had rejected the request, saying a referendum (pungutan suara) was too expensive.

“Razak conveyed to us his refusal to have the review through the then chief minister, Mustapha Harun, who was also chairman of the Sabah Alliance.

“Razak said if Sabah wanted a referendum, it would need a big sum of money for the purpose.
“Razak, however, said that Sabah could just make additions to the existing assurances and provisions and hence there was no need for a costly referendum,” Ismail, 71, said in an exclusive interview with FMT here.

Ismail, who was an assistant minister in Mustapha’s cabinet, also said that the word “review” of the Malaysia Agreement was a mutual understanding by both the federal government and the Borneo states that the assurances were being carried out to the satisfaction of Sabah and Sarawak.

A review was never to lessen or remove the assurances, but rather to make sure Sabah and Sarawak continued to be a happy, equal partners in the agreed federation.
Ismail, who was only 27 when he first became Sorob assemblyman in 1967, continued to win in his area till 1976 when Usno was overthrown by the Berjaya government.
He was initially an Upko assemblyman till 1969 when the party disbanded. He then joined Usno and was assemblymen till 1976.

Sorob constituency was renamed Kebayau in 1976 and in 1986 it was renamed Kadamaian.

Federal government manipulation
During Ismail’s tenure, Sabah only had 32 elected assemblymen and six nominated assemblymen.

It now has 60 assemblymen while the six nominated posts had not been filled although the provision for it in the state constitution has never been repealed.

The Malaysia Agreement which paved for the birth of the Federation of Malaysia was signed on July 9, 1963 in London among five parties – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (eventually Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore.

The Malaysia Agreement had only 11 Articles in it. However, they provide for greater elaboration and hence it has 11 annexes that, among others, are the Malaysia Bill or the Federation of Malaya; the Constitution of Sabah; the Constitution of Sarawak; the Constitution of Singapore; the Immigration Bill; and several agreements and arrangements with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

Sabah political and civil society leaders in particular had been vocal in calling for the agreement to be reviewed.

However, both the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat have given their calls a cold shoulder.

The resources-rich state has over the years become the poorest state in Malaysia due to what, they claimed, are the manipulative practices that placed Sabah at the mercy of Kuala Lumpur as the earlier leaders in Borneo had feared.
The late Fuad (Donald) Stephens, GS Sundang, Khoo Siak Chiew, Temenggung Jugah, Abang Mustapha, Ling Beng Siew, James Wong and Abang Openg had at one time or another all sought assurances that the 20-point agreement for Sabah and the 18-point for Sarawak, prior to Malaysia Agreement, would be honoured.

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