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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Resolve definition of ‘Federation’ first, Jambun tells Putrajaya

Article 160 defines Federation as that established by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 "which does not exist", says rights activist

KOTA KINABALU - Putrajaya’s compliance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) must begin with resolving the definition of “Federation” in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.

“Malaysia under MA63 means two territories, the Malay peninsula and Borneo north of Kalimantan, coming together,” said rights activist Daniel John Jambun in an interview.

“That was the intention of the founding fathers in Borneo and Malaya.”

Sabah and Sarawak, he said, are physically in Borneo and cannot be members of the Federation of Malaya which is confined to the Malay peninsula.

He referred to a flurry of statements on MA63 which “border on rhetoric and polemics rather than getting into the heart of the matter”.

PBS President Joseph Pairin Kitingan, for one, pledged support for Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s proposed motion on Article 1(2).

The human rights advocate cautioned against haste in restoring Article 1(2) to its pre-13 July, 1976, wording. In its pre-1976 form, Article 1(2) recognised Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya as the three territories in Malaysia but with Article 160 left untouched.

“It’s Article 160 that defines Federation as that established by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957,” pointed out Jambun who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim Foundation). “In fact, there’s no such Agreement.”

He does not rule out the possibility the definition may be a reference to the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948.

Jambun does not think that it may be about the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957.

“1957 was an Act, not an Agreement,” argued Jambun.

The human rights advocate was warning against “fools rushing in where angels fear to tread” on MA63.

He believes it would not be possible to resolve the definition on “Federation” without including MA63.

The definition on Federation, he continued, should embrace a “two-in-one” approach: a Federation of Malaya and the Federation of Malaysia i.e. an equal partnership of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.

“The definition/s, once resolved, can be reflected in Article 1(2) on the status of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya in the Federation of 1963,” said Jambun.

Article 1(2), as it stands, reads that Sabah and Sarawak are the 12th and 13th states in the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia).

By Joe Fernandez

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