A Memorandum on the Fate of Sabah
in the Malaysian Federation
Presented by DANIEL JOHN JAMBUN, Esq.
At the House of Commons, London, the United Kingdom
For decades now, we the people of Sabah, have been haunted by ghosts of history dating back to August 31, 1963, the day we gained independence from Great Britain. Malaysia was conceptualised and constituted with the best of promises, endearing in us hopes and dreams for a greater future. It is with sadness that I stand here to witness that what had transpired since September 16, 1963 had been a series of events that had led us to the present situation in which we can justly proclaim to be a situation of shattered hopes and broken dreams!
We therefore stand before this House, in good faith, to seek redress and to appeal for an inclusive dialogue, which we hope will lead to a clearer and brighter tomorrow to all parties concerned. I seek the indulgence of this House to hear our side of the story and adjudge the events of the past with a clear conscience and a sympathetic eye, and to lend us a hand in seeking a just and righteous solution to our problem.
I would like to present three pertinent issues, which may or may not have direct concern of the present British government. Firstly, we need to take a critical review of the rationales and instruments for the formation of Malaysia. There is the nagging question of justice in the drafting of the critical Malaysia Agreement, the efficiency and integrity off the Cobbold Commission, the reliability of the promises of the Twenty Points, the Inter governmental Committee Report and the Malaysian Act, historical documents which must be familiar to the knowledge of the Honourable Lawmakers in this House. Secondly, is the perennial issue of security which now affect the sovereignty of Sabah within Malaysia. And thirdly is the case of the spiraling deterioration in the economic wellbeing of the people of Sabah.
The terms of this Federation are contained in various documents such as the Twenty Points, the IGC report and of course the Malaysia Agreement, which on paper protected the interests of Sabah and Sarawak within this new Federation so that they do not lose their autonomy in certain areas of governance which gave meanings and substances to their independence.
Without doubt, this was the expressed hope of the founding fathers, principally Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia; Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Donald Stephens and Mustapha Harun of Sabah, Stephen Kalong Ningkan of Sarawak, etc. Independent speeches were delivered by various leaders including Razak, Tun Mustapha, Donald Stephens and Sir William Goode to during the historic celebration of Sabah’s nationhood. I present several quotes from them below:
– Sir William Goode, outgoing Governor of North Borneo (Sabah Times, Jesselton, August 1, 1963)The Tunku naturally uttered several historic statements on the matter:“The granting of self-government too would enable Sabah to stand on its own feet as equal with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore.”(Sabah Times, Jesselton, August 30th, 1963)
“The important aspects of the Malaysia Ideal, as I see it, is that it will enable the Borneo territories to transform their present colonial status to ‘self government’ for themselves and absolute independence in Malaysia simultaneously…”“The days of imperialism are gone and it is not the intention of Malaya to perpetuate or revive them. When the Borneo territories become part of Malaysia, they will cease to be a colony of Malaya, they will be partners of equal status, no more or less than the other States.”
(Strait Times, October 2nd 1962)
The “other States” refer to the other States entities of Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak.
Of these, 60,000 are categorized as refugees and about 153,000 to 418,000 are those supposedly given work passes. In addition there are those with false documents but over and above these numbers are the 600,000 who have been given genuine Malaysian identity cards or MyKads by higher authority under “Projek IC Mahathir” (Dr. Chong Eng Leong, Ibid.)
The most serious and obvious injustices inflicted upon Sabah is the deployment of non-citizen to become voters, thereby depriving citizens of the right to democracy and self-determination. The main category of foreign voters comprise the 600,000 who have been given Mykads, under “Projek IC Mahathir.” This project was widely debated in the local papers in 2006. A witness to a trial on an election dispute confessed in court to possessing a dubious identity card, telling the magistrate that he obtained his IC through “Projek President Mahathir.” This evidence was never contested, and nor has there been any denial form the former Prime Minister.
This begs the question: Where is the security that the founding fathers of Malaysia had promised us? With the explicit support of Great Britain, we had been hard-pressed to join in the formation of Malaysia, in the name of security from Indonesia’s Confrontation and Phillippines’ claim. But as it turned out, today Brunei, which opted out following a rebellion, and Singapore which was later expelled, are doing so much better. There is therefore no denying that Brunei had been far-sighted, and Singapore had been ironically blessed by its expulsion.
Sabah is a rich state endowed with much natural resources such as oil and gas, timber, fertile agricultural land and tourism potentials. With a population of just about three million, Sabah offers abundant promises for vibrant economic development and enviable prosperity. Unfortunately, Sabah today is the poorest state in Malaysia (according to the government’s Malaysia Plan Report). Most of Sabah’s timber has already been harvested without any heed to sustainable supply management, and over eighty percent of the agricultural land develop for oil palm belong to corporate giants owned by west Malaysian companies. Ironically, Sabah is Malaysia’s largest oil palm producer with 60% of the nation’s palm oil being produced in Sabah. Sabah is also one of three Malaysia’s oil producing states, producing more than 73,000 barrels of crude petroleum per day. Why then is Sabah poor and financially dependent on the federal government? The answer is simple: It is either that Sabah is not getting its fair share of its own wealth or is the victim of mismanagement, or both. UNDP (United Nation Development Program) put the State poverty rate at 24.3% of the population.
Felda and Felcra
Land given out to Felda and Felcra by the State Government for the purpose of development assistance to the landless local was never implemented. According to the former Chief Minister, Harris Salleh, 300,000 hectares have been given to Felda/Felcra for this purpose. We know of no one Sabahan having benefited, although perhaps there may be a few. So who are the rest of the beneficiaries? Who is reaping the oil palm harvest from our land? Obviously, justice must be served. And these lands must revert back to the State Government and their utilisation reviewed as part of our economic revival and poverty eradication programmes.
Even a fellow BN member had openly admitted that illegals could be in BN parties. Chin Su Ling, Youth Chief of the Liberal Democratic Party, a component of the BN said there is a possibility that many illegal immigrants have become members of various BN component Sabah. (Borneo Post, Tuesday, September 19th, 2006). These foreigners may just be “voters for hire” at present but once they can organize themselves, they could be in a position to control Sabah UMNO and elect their own representatives into the State Assembly and Parliament. Once this is achieved they could take over the government and change the rules of the game in their favour. This is not impossible.
How did Sabah’s population grow so fast? Are we more fertile than Sarawak or the peninsular? NO! The high growth in Sabah’s population is explained by the high arrivals of foreigners, many of whom were later exploited to become voters through the “Project IC.” Worse, these foreigners who obtained MyKads through the backdoor also claim to be Bumiputeras (sons of the soil). They are in fact The New Bumiputeras! These new “natives” are now the same number as the natives!
“The illegal immigrants are the mother of all problems in Sabah” – Dato
Bakri Zinin . High ranking Police Officer, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur
The root cause of Sabah’s dilemma is the fact that the Inter-Governmental Committee Report had failed to ensure Malaysian Government compliance with the Malaysia Agreement on a continuous basis. Various ‘modification’ and ‘adjustments’ had been surreptitiously inserted into the national governance mechanism which had trapped us into subservience and compliance and in the process eroding much of our rights and privileges.
The IGC must be revived and the United Kingdom, along with Singapore, Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya (the Federal Government), must play an active role as sympathetic and just former master to institute effective and enduring rectifications. This is the least that we can ask for. This is also the way forward. The United Kingdom is the first stop in our mission to revive the IGC. Efforts are also being made at this material time in Kuala Lumpur by Dr Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan, the chairman of the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma) to seek the same redress and review of the terms of independence And formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Likewise we are mobilising a similar mission to Singapore prior to seeking a dialogue with the Sabah and Sarawak State Governments on the same issue.
With respect and reverence we lay our hopes and desires before this honourable House for a redirection of the negative trends that beset us in Borneo, in the full confidence that a vehicle to the future can be chartered for justice and truth, to pick up the pieces of the shattered hopes and broken dreams.