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Jeffrey’s battle: 1-Country, 2-Systems

UBF president Jeffrey Kitingan says the concept is line with the
Borneo Agenda to hand over power to Sabah and Sarawak.
KOTA KINABALU: The United Borneo Front (UBF) is pushing for a “1-Country, 2-Systems” type of administration in Malaysia – one for Peninsular Malaysia and the other for Sabah and Sarawak.

UBF chairman-cum-founder Jeffrey Kitingan said this was in line with its “Borneo Agenda” and aspiration to restore political autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak.

Speaking at its recent Borneo Tea Party gathering and Hari Raya open house held in Dataran Bengkoka, Pitas, Kitingan said the vast distance between the two regions with the South China Sea between them emphasised their differences.

“The differences in indigenous people, culture, language and heritage should be taken into consideration in the administration of the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak in addition to the historical fact that Sabah and Sarawak together with Singapore and Malaya formed the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

He complained that Sabah and Sarawak had now been downgraded to be the 12th and 13th states in Malaysia and ruled by the Peninsula and Peninsula-controlled political parties.

However, Kitingan is optimistic that changes are gradually taking place since his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the early 1990s for saying exactly the same things he is championing now – the rights of Sabah and the 20-Point Agreement.

“The rights of Sabah and Sarawak are now openly being discussed including on the Internet,” he said, adding that even some government leaders have timidly questioned the erosion of rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Sabah for Sabahans

Kitingan said that as far as state rights were concerned, “every Sabahan regardless of race, religion or creed” should be included and no single group or community should claim exclusivity.

“The causes championed by UBF are for all the people in Sabah and Sarawak and not for personal interests or positions. Leaders may come and go but the causes of Sabah and Sarawak and their people will continue regardless of race or religion.

“As a non-aligned non-governmental organisation, UBF is race, religion and colour blind and holds the view that Sabah is for all genuine Sabahans,” he said.

Answering his critics that he has been capricious and temperamental, Kitingan said he has not wavered from his cause of fighting for the rights of Sabah and Sabahans although he has always been accused of party-hopping.

He explained he left the previous parties as they did not have the political will or direction to champion the causes of Sabah and Sabahans.

He also said that Sabah and Sarawak had lost a rare opportunity to seek restoration of their rightful position as equal partners in Malaysia during the so-called “political tsunami” of the 2008 general election when the Barisan Nasional government lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

He blamed leaders of the two states who placed their party’s interest above that of the people during the tense horse-trading for position and power after the 2008 election that saw then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi being shunted aside by his party.

Real problem

“They were tied… in the BN government and failed to capitalise on the opportunity to seek the rights of all Sabahans and Sarawakians,” Kitingan said.

He added that so far the 2008 election had only brought about an official recognition that Sept 16 is the day Malaysia was formed and would be celebrated as such from 2010.

Kitingan also softened his stance on the issue of the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in the state.

He said they cannot be directly faulted as they are mainly here to make a living.

He said the real problem lay with the government which has exploited them by unlawfully granting them Malaysian identity cards and voting rights to ensure their political survival and retain their grip on power.

“These illegal immigrants are no longer called ‘PTI’ (Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin) but ‘Patai’ (Pendatang Asing Tetapi Ada IC),” he noted.

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