Doing right by the people of Sabah & Sarawak

Posted on March 22, 2012


Many in KL, Penang, JB and maybe even in Melaka now live in what is commonly called gated communities.

They contribute toward the cost of having security guards man gates to their housing estates, all fenced in.

It’s a security thing.

Participating in this security measure with ones neighbours, though, in no way amounts to surrender of the privacy and one’s sovereignty over one’s home and all that’s in it.

That’s the same with Sabah and Sarawak’s agreement with Malaya and Singapore to form the federation of Malaysia.

Almost 49 years ago, 0n 9th July, 1963, the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo ( now called Sabah ), Sarawak and Singapore entered into an agreement that gave rise to the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

Collateral to the agreement of 1963 and related to the issue of what precisely was agreed between the parties thereto are two documents : a 20-point agreement relating to Sabah and an 18-point agreement relating to Sarawak.

I learnt from forums in Sabah and Sarawak in 2010 that the terms of that agreement had not been faithfully given effect to, denying Sabahans and Sarawakians the fullest benefit of independence from the U.K.

I have since come to understand that the formation of the federation of Malaysia never intended or envisaged that Singapore and the independent nation states of North Borneo ( now Sabah ) and Sarawak were to be subsumed and stand as the 12th, 13th and 14th states of the new federation, thus adding to the 11 states in the federation of Malaya.

Rather, the then federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak had agreed to come together and, without any loss or reduction in their respective status as independent sovereign nations, form the federation of Malaysia as equal nation-state partners within that new federation.

Clause 3 of the 20-point agreement, which relates to Sabah, states : Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of a free association of states and should not be a series of amendments to a Constitution drafted and agreed by different states in totally different circumstances.

The full text of the 20-point agreement can be viewed HERE.

As we all know, this clause has never been adhered to.

The Constitution of 1957 was intended for application in the federation of Malaya, and details the sharing and distribution of powers of governance, being that of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, between the 11 states and the federal authority.

The 1957 constitution represented the social contract, if you will, of the 11 states that had, with a view to obtaining independence from the British, agreed to come together to form one nation, the federation of Malaya and, in so doing, had agreed to surrender much of their respective powers to the federal authority.

Such a constitution clearly would not be appropriate for the entity that was sought to be created in 1963 where, the member states were intended to retain their sovereign and independent nation-state status.

Somewhat like our gated communities here.

What has instead happened, in my view, is the surreptitious subsuming of Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation of Malaya as the 12th and 13th states.

As long as Sabah and Sarawak continue to be made subject to the constitution of 1957, the reality will be that the federation of Malaysia will be no more than a renaming of the federation of Malaya, save that 2 more states will have been added to the original 11.

In my view, it serves the interests of the people of Sabah and Sarawak that both Sabah and Sarawak be now recognised as the 2nd and 3rd nation-states, sovereign and independent, with full and untrammelled rights to all the God-given natural resources within their respective jurisdiction for their respective people, within the federation of Malaysia, and to press for the honouring of the promise of the new constitution.

Such a move would enable a more realistic federal-nation state divide of powers to be put in place, that would return greater autonomy to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Pakatan Rakyat’s provisions in their Buku Jingga fall well short of this. See for yourself.


Am I right in my understanding of what was intended in the formation of Malaysia in 1963?

Clause 18 of the 20-point agreement in relation to Sabah postulates that the head of state was to be called ‘Yang DiPertua Negara‘.

Not ‘Negeri’.

Telling, don’t you think?

I think we in Malaya owe it to the people of Sabah and Sarawak to get to the truth of what was agreed in 1963 and to insist that that which was agreed be honoured by a new non-BN federal government post the 13th GE.

To this end, I propose that such a new federal government, upon taking office, immediately establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry, to be made of of man and women who command the confidence of the people of Sabah and Sarawak, with the following terms of reference :

  • to look into the Malaysia Agreement, 1963, the 18 / 20 point agreements and all relevant circumstances surrounding the formation of Malaysia to discover its true spirit and intent, particularly in regard to the status and position of Sabah and Sarawak, and to report the same to the rakyat and His Majesty;
  • to investigate and identify those responsible for subverting the true and spirit and intent of the formation of Malaysia, and to report the same to the rakyat and His Majesty; and
  • to advise the rakyat and His Majesty as to the course of action to take to give full and immediate effect to the spirit and intent of the formation of Malaysia, particularly in regard to the status and position of Sabah and Sarawak.

I call on the leaders of Pakatan and all other non-BN parties in Malaya to pledge that if, with the support of the rakyat and, by God’s Grace, they form the new federal government in Putrajaya post the next GE, they will cause to have established such an RCI as described above.