Today is September 16th, 2013 and it's Malaysia Day. It is the celebration to commemurate the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.
For decades, Malaysia Day was not given significance but it changed during Tun Abdullah's administration. On September 16th, 1963, Malaysia was declared, which is a federation of Malaya (or Persekutuan Tanah Melayu), Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (later kicked out).
Some months back during the Lahad Datu incursion by Suluk from Phillipines, this blogger met a Sabahan politician and expressed our disappointment with the in-denial attitude of Sabah academicians to believe the myth of the 20-points agreement. [Read on the 20-point agreement here.]
The politician agreed and felt someone should "debunked" this myth which was started by Dato Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, once and for all. And, he agreed with us that Sabah have been "crying wolf" for too many times that it has become self defeating.
With the hope that Sabah stop the endless blaming to look inside to SWOT themselves and move on, we attempt to layout our few months of information gathering on this auspicious Malaysia day.
As recently as June 2012, there are voices that have debunked the existence of such agreement. Then Sabah State Legislative Speaker, Salleh Keruak dismissed it's existence. Later it was also reiterated by former Sabah Archives Director, Tigabelas Zainal Abidin.
Since 1987, former Chairman of IDS, Dato Dr Jeffrey Kitingan have been making such claims and accused the federal government of renegating on the agreed terms. This became a contributing factor in the rise of PBS from 1985 which fell after the 1994 state election.
Some of Jeffrey's view can be heard in this 2011's 1-hour video explanation below:
He went overboard in his struggle and was arrested under ISA in 1992 for working covertly to secede Sabah out of Malaysia through millitary means. Off course, his supporters denied but it is an open secret and a blog exposed he had a paramillitary traning camp in the Phillipines.
There have never been such an agreement but a series of discussions, fact finding missions and surveys by various committees preceding the United Nation visit prior to signing of the Malaysia Agreement.
Every term that was agreed are stated inside the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia.
Of late, many of those proponent of the 20-point agreement agreed with us that there is no such 20-point agreement. They explained that it was only points agreed in the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC).
IGC refers to a committee established to study and prepare the new Constitution including the protection of the interest for North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak.
The committee comprise of four parties - Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Britain. The Chairman of the committee was Lord Landsdowne and Deputy Chairman was Tun Abdul Razak.
It was formed after the Malaysian Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) and Cobbold Commission. MSCC was established and had four times between August 1961 to February 1962
The first Cobbold Commission meeting was held on August 30 1962 in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu). Five sub-committees was formed to look into areas on Constitution, Fiscal, Legal and Judicial, Public Service and Departmental Organisation.
IGC prepared a report on the finding and recommendation submitted in August 1962. It was completed and signed on February 27 1963. This is after Legal Council of North Borneo agreed with the proposal of Britain and Malay to form Malaysia on September 1962. And Sarawak gave their agreement on September 26, 1962.
In August 20, 1962, five Sabah political parties submitted a memorandum to the IGC. It contained 20 terms of condition to protect the interest of Sabah. Sarawak also followed with 18 conditions which was invariably similar but not as detailed to Sabah's 20 points. Few conditions were modified or rejected during the subcommittee and IGC meetings.
In mid 1963, the United Nations send a delegate as observer upon studying the various reports - Cobbold, MSSC, and IGC. They were sent to see the public's approval in accordance with the Manilla Accord June 1963 which arise from disputes raised by Phillipines and Indonesia.
The pro-Malaysia Sabah Alliance party 131 seats to 6 seats by Independent in the May 1963 election. While in Sarawak, the UN Mission found 73.3% (400) of the 429 representative agreed to formation of Malaysia .
Delayed from the 31st August schedule to fulfill UN delegates, the Malaysia Agreement for the formation of Malaysia was signed on September 16, 1963 after undergoing a tedious and thorough consultation by all parties involved at state level or people level.
For political reasons, Jeffrey concocted a series of issues to all the 20 points memorandum and called the issues raised in the memorandum as agreements. Jeffrey original complains in 1987 and the rebuttal are as follows:
1. Jeffrey rejected the application of Islam as religion of federation for Sabah.
He argued that there should be no state religion or official religion using records from finding of the Cobbold Commission, MSCC, and IGC.
However, the memorandum of MSSC chaired by Donald A Stephen and represented by all states mentioned in 31.1 that the committee was satisfied to accept Islam as religion of the federation as long it does not endanger the freedom to practise religion and the constitution of Malaysia provided guarantee for other religion to be practise in peace and harmony.
Cobbold Commission report dated June 21 1962 mentioned in page 39 that there was acceptance as long as there are no barriers and full freedom to practise other religion.
IGC report mentioned in para 15(1) that the article 3, and 11(4) on the status and conduct of Islam as religion of the Federation not be modified.
2. Jeffrey insist that English to be the official language of Sabah.
He accused Tun Mustapha for changing the status and position of English with the introduction of 11A in the state constitution which was in line with amendment of the Parliament Act to end and limit use of English for official use in Sabah prior to the National Language Act 1963/67.
MSSC memorandum agreed that the federation should have a single national language. They were satisfied with the 10 years allowance of ENglish as official language before National language is used in full.
Cobbold Commission left it to the Borneo state to decide when the representative legislative bodies are in place.
There is no clause to end or limit use of English but can be changed after 10 years of Malaysia Day. As far as Tun Mustpaha's amendment in 1973, he did not enacted a specific Enactment to enforce Amendment to the National Language Act of 1983.
Jeffrey was being parochial.
3. Jeffrey claimed that Malaysian Constitution was temporary till an agreed new Constitution was drafted.
Cobbold Commission viewed it as impractical and it is sufficient by adopting the Constitution of Malaya with specific amendments. Mentioned also that the entry of Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation was as states of a Federation, however certain autonomy and protection be guaranteed.
IGC specified that any change or modification to the state's area of autonomy or protection must be with state agreement. The areas are immigration, citizenship, representative to federal parliament and High Court of Borneo. Also the division of executive and legislative powers involving area of legislative power, financial and matters of religion, language and special position of pribumi.
Malaysian Agreement provided in para 66 for the special protection for Borneo states and provisions for autonomy and protection have been provided for in the Constuitution!
4. Jeffrey dispute the need to mention the Head of State not eligible for election as Head of Federation.
The ulterior motive of Jeffrey was to see the Head of State be appointed as Yang Dipertuan Agong. The issue was raised by certain members of the Sabah community but Cobbold Commission do not see how it could be fulfilled without disrupting existing arrangement in Malaya.
Since being practise, the Council of Ruler have appointed only Sabahan as Head of State and is represented on the Council of Rulers.
5. Jeffrey insisted that Malaysia was not Melayu Raya.
It was a mistranslation of the times. Melayu Raya (or Indonesia Raya) was a coalition of between Malaya and Indonesia mooted by the Malay left wing groups to detour the on-going independence consultation between the British, rulers and subject.
Cobbold Commission acknowledged the opposition to the name by certain members of the non Malay and non Muslim community. In the Malaysia Agreement, the name of the federation in Malay and English was defined as Malaysia.
Jeffrey intention to raise this as issue was to incite hatred against Malay, Muslims and Federal government.
6. Jeffrey raised the issue of entry from other part of Malaysia is the prerogative of Sabah government.
This has been adhered to and in line with the various reports.
Jeffrey's view was merely an expression of his fear and jealousy to the entry of Malaysian from other states into Sabah. His paranoia is that non Sabahan would marginalised the Sabahan in areas of economy, politics and social.
It was also to politicise the illegal immigrant problems from Phillipines and Indonesia of the times. He had insidious intention to demand Sabah sole power on immigration.
7. Jeffrey claim "no right to secede from the Federation" clause in the 20-points agreement is not absolute.
The can be easily dispelled because the five political parties that submitted a memorandum to IGC to include that clause.
Although there was a proposal to include the condition for the right secede, the Cobbald Commission rejected it on the ground that it is divisive and destabilising for the new federation state. If the decision to join, it must be made wholeheartedly and without doubt.
Jefrey was merely raising it for his intention to secede and to politicise his secesion intent by accusing the federal government did not provide for Sabah's economic well being and progress. Oil royalty issue was conveniently used.
8. Jeffrey accused federal government as resisting borneonisation of civil service
He accused federal government controls pension and power to approved promotion to resist. However, para 24(9) of the IGC requested that the federal government will accept responsibility for the pensions payable by the governments of Sabah and Sarawak.
Power to create position and inclusive Division III of Borneo establishments is the constitutional prerogative of the federal government and is in line with state constitution.
Though it is obviously in line with the requirement of the times, among others he claimed there had been an intentional attempt by the Federal Department to increase the number of Departments and Agencies by four fold.
9. Jeffrey insist on preserving British Officers
He insisted on this till local can replace these British officers. This issue and Borneonisation issue are just grouses by some locals and in particular Kadazan that claim federal gvernment intentionally place Semenanjungs in key positions.
Filling up of federal positions has always been based on increasing efficiency and fulfilling the rakyat's aspiration and expectations. It has never been in accordance to requirement for 'anak negeri'. A Sabahan can fill the position at the highest level in the federal gvernment like the Attorney General.
10. Jeffrey claimed there had been abuse in giving up citizenship
This issue is closely related to the current on going RCI .
As had been replied before, the currrent allegations has not been because it is not done in accordance with the Cobbold, Commission, MSSC, IGC, and Malaysia Agreement, but abuse by some members of the government officers.
Others issues raised by Jeffrey relate to tariff and finance, special rights of Pribumi, state government, Parliament, education, protection federal government, representative in Parliament, title of Chief Minister, state name of Sabah, and land, forest and local authorities, etc.
We do not see any need to elaborate since it is generally operational in nature and the more critical matter have been answered.
In Jeffrey's 2011 video, he has dropped many of his earlier claims and what's left is jealousy and shallow politics. That too have been answered like the suddenly surfaced demand for 20% oil royalty.
It has always been about his insular thinking as reflected by the "Sabah for Sabahan" slogan he coined for the PBS administration.
Sabah need to move on and not be duped by unsubstantiated claims to hold it back from moving forward.
Sabahan have to realise that they themselves contributed to the mistakes of the past. It is best to stop politically motivated finger pointing and take charge of the destiny of the state.
Federal government have done much for the state but until it reached a certain level of development, such complain on the building of KLCC is immature. If a building such as KLCC is build in Kota Belud or Kota Merudu, how many rooms can it filled up?
Natural resources still available for Sabah to exploit and make a future for themselves. Poverty, education, employment, and basic needs still need to be addressed and federal government must support for Sabah to catch up.
For it to materialise, Sabah must mature in it's politics. It need to be led by honest and capable leadership that can steer it forward.