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20-Points and Sabah Rights Arguably Non-Seditious

Kota Kinabalu:     “The federal government and leaders of Malaya should listen to the advice of the learned federal Attorney General that the 20/18-Points are historical facts, part and parcel and fundamental to the formation of Malaysia.  They represent the aspirations of the people of Sabah and Sarawak and, as rightly pointed out, they were constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak” said Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Chairman of STAR Sabah, responding to the Attorney General’s speech at the opening of the Sabah and Sarawak Legal Year 2015. 

The Attorney General was spot on in advising how to go about and deal with the grievances of the people in clamouring for the restoration and rights and equal partnership of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.  

He had stated that "…. But if the issue is really about how the constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak are being implemented, then the arguments and debate should be focused accordingly and discourse carried out rationally,"

Clearly, Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) provided that “the Governments of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak are required by whatever means including legislative, executive or other action as may be required to implement the assurances, undertakings and recommendations of the IGC Report which are not implemented by express provision in the Constitution of Malaysia”.

The Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report also called for a review of many provisions 10 years after the formation of Malaysia.   Right up to 1975, there were federal and Sabah/Sarawak committees formed to deal with the review but it ended abruptly in 1976 with the death of Tun Dr. Ismail.

No government since then had revived the review of MA63 and the calls lately have been growing louder by the day.    However, they have fallen on deaf ears of the federal and Sabah leaders.

“Even the Speaker of the Sabah Legislative Assembly rejected twice my Motions to debate on the Review of MA63” added Dr. Jeffrey.

At the federal Parliament, the Speaker, who is from Sabah had apparently bowed to pressure from his Malayan bosses and rejected the motion by the Sabah MP from Penampang to debate on a review of MA63.

“Why the gripping fear to debate on a review of MA63?”

“What are the federal and State leaders so afraid of? queried Dr. Jeffrey.

The mindset of these leaders of behaving as colonial and feudal warlords with local chieftains in Sabah to lord over Sabah and Sarawak have spawned parochial movements in Sabah and Sarawak as well as calls to dissolve the Federation of Malaysia which are aggressively termed as secessionist or separatist when they are clearly not.

It is not surprising as the movement to leave Malaysia was fore-warned by the last British Governor of North Borneo, Sir William Goode, who cautioned that ”... Tunku must avoid taking over the Borneo territories as colonies ……..  Any impression of being transferred as colonies will prove a “Merdeka” (independence) movement against Kuala Lumpur, potentially irresistible…..”

Instead of following the advice of the Attorney General that the proper way to deal with the grievances was a proper and rational discourse, federal leaders and parroted by Sabah Umno leaders, threats of arrests are made against these nationalists and activists. 

And more lately, led by none other than the Prime Minister himself, moves are being made to amend the Sedition Act to act against Sabah and Sarawak nationalists for voicing Sabah and Sarawak rights including the 20-Points.

If the Federation of Malaysia do tear apart, well aided by religious bigots and racists, the fault will fall squarely on the present leaders for not listening to the voices of the people for not and engaging in proper discourse in the words of the Attorney General.

Threats will only galvanize Sabahans and Sarawakians in seeking to restore the rights and equal partnership of Sabah and Sarawak.   In contradicting the federal Ministers leaders, the Attorney General has legalistically termed calls for secession to be “arguably seditious”.   On a similar note, the 20-Points and the rights of Sabah and Sarawak are arguably non-seditious.

To move forward, the federal government should immediately set up a special Taskforce comprising representatives from Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak for a rational discourse and review of MA63 to build a new and better MALAYSIA.

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