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Sabah's Autonomy Should Not Be Compromised – Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:    “The Sabah State Assembly Speaker’s statement that the federal government should grant partial autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak consistent with the spirit and basis of the Malaysia Agreement (“MA63”) and the 20/18-Points is welcomed and long overdue from an Umno leader.   However, the autonomy cannot be compromised and need to be sincerely implemented and not just an empty and hollow rhetoric or political gimmick” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, Chairman of STAR Sabah responding to the Speaker’s request that the Barisan Nasional federal government grant partial autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak to partly fulfil the people’s request and reduce their anger.

Granting Sabah and Sarawak partial autonomy just to retain Umno/BN’s hold on power in Putrajaya is not a wise move or the right approach.

Sabah’s autonomy and rights as an equal partner in the Federation of Malaysia, equal to Malaya and Sarawak, are not mere words to please the people in Sabah.   True Sabahans will not accept it as autonomy was a right of Sabah and Sarawak when they agreed to form the Federation of Malaysia and should not be negotiable.

If the Speaker Datuk Salleh is able to implement full autonomy for Sabah as he said was set out in the spirit of MA63 and the 20-Points, the very basis of the formation of Malaysia, a majority of Sabahans would want and support him to be the Chief Minister of Sabah.

Since the GE-14 and in particular the ascension of the new Chief Minister of Sarawak, the groundswell for Sabah rights have been growing into an earthquake shaking the very core of Putrajaya and the police chief in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

Sabahans are looking for a new Chief Minister in the mould of the new Chief Minister of Sarawak, a strong believer of peace and harmony amongst the multi-religious races and strong-willed and brave to say and implement that Umno and its brand of divisive and disruptive race and religion and its own version of Islam is not wanted in Sarawak.

The points raised by Datuk Salleh on autonomy, MA63, the 20/18-Points and Sabah and Sarawak being treated as internal colonies of Malaya are but a few of the issues creating unhappiness and grievances in Sabah and Sarawak and championed by activists and nationalists in the Borneo States.

The Speaker’s statement only serve to confirm and reinforce the activists and nationalists’ fight for Sabah’s rights and autonomy.

It is high time for the Umno leaders in Putrajaya and the federal government to sit up, listen and take cognizance of the issues raised by the Speaker and to invite public and rational discourse to resolve the root issue of the non-compliance of the terms and conditions of the formation of Malaysia.

Of course, the Speaker is also correct that Sabah and Sarawak are the kingmakers that can make or break BN or Pakatan Rakyat and determine who controls Putrajaya and the federal government.

As a first step, the federal and Sabah governments should re-activate the review of MA63 and the Federal Constitution which has been denied Sabah and Sarawak since 1975 when the federal and Sabah committees last met.

“The Speaker should not be hypocritical of Sabah’s rights and autonomy.   He had rejected my motion calling for a review of MA63 and the Federal Constitution which I had tabled twice at the Sabah Legislative Assembly last year” added Dr. Jeffrey.

If the Speaker is serious on his views for a partial autonomy for Sabah, he should take the necessary steps to allow the Motion calling for a view of MA63 and the basis of federal-Sabah relations at the next State Legislative Assembly session.

If the Motion is allowed, it may also be the first step of the Speaker ascending to be the Chief Minister with the support of Sabahans seeking restoration of the rights and autonomy of Sabah as an equal partner to Malaya and Sarawak.  

If not, it may be the beginning of the end of the equal partnership in Malaysia with Sabahans clamouring for a dissolution and breakaway since his Umno party, the Federation of Malaya and the federal government do not wish to honour the basis of the formation of Malaysia.

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