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Friday, July 1, 2016

Sincere will is needed to implement compliance of Malaysia Agreement 1963

KOTA KINABALU - “The intention to establish the Technical Committee is welcomed.  But there must be a sincere will to discuss, evaluate and comply with whatever was agreed in the formation of Malaysia,” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, Bingkor State Assemblyman in response to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri, on the setting up of the Technical Committee on the compliance of the basis of the formation of Malaysia.

The Prime Minister and the federal government needs to assure Sabahans and Sarawakians that they are serious and sincere to comply with the basis of the formation of Malaysia and the constitutional safeguards of the Borneo States in the Federal Constitution.

The Technical Committee was reportedly directed to identify the issues of non-compliance from the context of Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC), Malaysia Agreement 1963, Malaysia Act, Federal Constitution and other written reports or documents such as Cobbold Commission Report and to provide recommendation and solution for the consideration of the federal government.

“At least, this is a start compared to the past where the pleas of Sabah on the basis of the Federal-Sabah State relations since the 1980s fell on deaf ears and completely ignored.  Worse still, after submitting a Memorandum to then PM Mahathir in 1987 on the 20-Points as the basis for Federal-Sabah relations, I was arrested under the draconian ISA in 1991 and imprisoned for almost 3 years” added Dr. Jeffrey.

It is hoped that the Federal government will be sincere and have good intention to solve the problems, grievances and unhappiness of the Borneo States and not turned into a political gimmick.

Hopefully, it won’t be like the RCI Technical Committee on Illegal Immigrants and treated as a “political football” to be kicked about and passed back and forth between the Federal government and the Borneo States.

Further, the Technical Committee should rise above partisan politics and comprise of members across the political divide as well as members of civil society as the rights of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians and not within the domain of political parties alone.

Ideally, it would have been better to re-activate the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) which was instrumental is discussing the basis of the formation of Malaysia. 

Alternatively, the Technical Committee could be established as an equivalent to the IGC. Here, at the Technical Committee-IGC level, the British government too has a role to play as it ought to be reminded that Malaysia was a transition for the Borneo States, which was at its infancy, and not ready for their own independence.   Hence, it was transitory for their own future independence via a brief independence in Malaysia, which was part of the basis for a review ten (10) years after Malaysia Day in 1963, which of course, never happened until today.

The Technical Committee or IGC-equivalent should be empowered with wide-ranging powers comprehensive enough to take into account the original basis of the formation of Malaysia which was a confederation of four (4) regional States and now three, Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya as equal partners. 

The down-grading of Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th States of Malaya re-named as Malaysia in 1976 should be undone to restore the equal partnership between Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak (minus Singapore which left in 1965).

The proposed recommendations should include an internal rationalization of the basis of the Federation of the 3 equal partners and perhaps a new Malaysian Constitution to replace the existing Federal Constitution which was for the basis of the Federation of Malaya and unsuited for an equal partnership above the existing States of Malaya.

The internal rationalization should include the dismantling of the Federal administration machinery in Sabah which acts as a parallel government to the Sabah government.  They also reduce the autonomy and sovereignty of the Sabah government and diminish Sabah agencies.    Not only its dismantling will enhance efficiency and remove duplicity, there will be substantial costs savings which can be re-deployed more effectively in other areas.

All said, the Technical Committee ought to be given the space to work and the chance to function properly for a better Malaysia in the future.

Finally, the recommendations of the Technical Committee or IGC-equivalent should be completed and implemented before the 14th General Elections scheduled in 2018.   There should be no excuses and no delays if the Federal government is truly sincere in looking into compliance of the basis of the formation of Malaysia and forging ahead with a new, stronger and more united Malaysia based on its original founding basis.

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