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Review MA63 and Stop Police Tyranny on Sabah Rights Activists

Kota Kinabalu:    “The actions of the police in Lahad Datu in detaining and remanding 5 Sabah rights activists is nothing short of police tyranny, human rights abuse, suppression of democracy and an abuse of powers.  It is turning Sabah into a police state and it is not acceptable for Sabahans” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief cum Bingkor State Assemblyman on reports that the 5 activists were detained and remanded since Saturday.

The 5 activists, 2 grandmothers and 3 youths, were in a car filling up petrol in a station in Tungku, Lahad Datu, and were arrested by the police in several cars which had tailed them.   It was about 5.15 pm. and they were taken back to the Lahad Datu Police Headquarters for questioning.

Apparently, part of a ploy by the police, the questioning took many hours with many hours also wasted by waiting and this was given as an excuse for detention overnight.   They were then remanded upon the instructions of the Sabah Police Commissioner and the IGP who had wanted another 4 days but only allowed 2 days by the Assistant District Officer sitting as a Magistrate.

The police investigations were apparently based on sedition and printing press laws just because SSKM (Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia) T-shirts and leaflets were found in their car.

The high-handed manner of their arrests and their treatment reflects the intention of the political masters of the police in ignoring and sidestepping Sabah and Sarawak rights.

It is an undisputed historical fact that Sabah and Sarawak agreed with the Federation of Malaysia and Singapore (which left in 1965) to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1965 and Sabah and Sarawak were accorded special rights and constitutional safeguards.

It is undisputed that there has been a non-compliance of the 20/18-Points which were the pre-conditions fundamental to Sabah and Sarawak agreeing to form Malaysia as well as of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the rights and safeguards of Sabah and Sarawak have been eroded by the federal government.

The federal leaders and their representatives in Sabah and Sarawak need to appreciate and understand that without Sabah or Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia in existence, only the Federation of Malaya.

It is not wrong, certainly it is not criminal, for any Sabahan and Sarawakian to demand for the restoration of these rights and safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak.  It is not demanding for any additional rights or to take away any rights of the other States in Malaya.

It is not acceptable at all for the federal government and the police to harass and arrest Sabah rights activists who are creating awareness of the rights of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia.  The police have better things to do and go after the real criminals and foreign intruders that are roaming all over Sabah and to protect Sabahans.

The police should not act as tyrants and be used as tools of colonial masters.   They should not be used and should not act to stifle the voice of Sabahans to serve the purpose of the federation of Malaya masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia to deny the rights of Sabah.  

It is not wrong, legally or morally, for Sabah rights activists and Sabahans to wish for a better deal and future for Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia.

Sabahans and Sarawakians will not stand idle and watch their fellow Sabahans and Sarawakians mistreated as criminals or allow their rights continued to be denied. 

The arrests of 5 Sabah rights activists will only increase the support for Sabah rights by 500, probably more.    If the federal government and the police continue with their harassment and arrests, it can only lead to Sabahans and Sarawakians to reject Malaysia and its eventual break-up.

The Prime Minister and his federal government and the police should heed the advice of the Attorney General and engage in a rational discourse with the Sabah rights activists and nationalists and address their grievances.

A good starting point would be a review of MA63 with the Federal Constitution.  After all, the initial review scheduled 10 years after formation in 1963 is long overdue.   The police should act professional in the best interests of the people especially Sabahans and Sarawakians in the case of MA63 and advise their political masters accordingly, not take blind instructions that will lead to the break-up of Malaysia.

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