KOTA KINABALU Dec 7, 2011: The United Borneo Front (UBF) has accused Barisan Nasional coalition partner Upko of being insincere over its call for Sabah and Sarawak to be granted 34% of the parliamentary seats.
UBF campaign director Edward Linggu said Upko secretary-general Wilfred Madius Tangau was just echoing one of the points of UBF’s Borneo Agenda and accused him of merely paying ‘lip service’ to the demand in order to fish for votes in the looming the 13th general election.
“If Upko is sincere and meant what it said, it should through its three members of parliament led by its president, Bernard Dompok, table a motion in Parliament to get the Election Commission to allocate at least 35% of the MPs for Sabah and Sarawak.
“If Upko MPs do not table the motion, it should just shut up and stop embarrassing itself further,” said Linggu yesterday.
BN component parties have of late been incorporating various opposition demands including those advocated by the NGO started by Jeffrey Kitingan which is fighting for the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak rights and position as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Linggu reminded all BN leaders that what is being advocated by UBF in the Borneo Agenda are not demands for additional rights but merely a restoration of those rights that have been wrongfully taken away from Sabah and Sarawak.
Among the sticking points that have aggravated the issue of eroding state rights are the revelation that the federal government collects about RM18 billion a year in federal taxes and levies from Sabah.
“Petronas gets about RM15 billion a year from oil and gas resources while leaving a measly RM770 million for Sabah,” Linggu pointed out.
“UBF is only seeking, amongst its seven core objectives, a fairer and more equitable distribution of revenue with the federal government.”Restore Sabah’s rights
The NGO never fails to point out that under Article 11 of the 20-Points Memorandum, Sabah is supposed to have control of its own finance, development funds and tariffs.
“Notwithstanding Article 11, UBF is more than reasonable in seeking a fairer and more equitable revenue sharing formula.
“Even Indonesia gives 70% of the oil revenue back to Aceh, which is governed as an autonomous province within the Republic of Indonesia.
“What are Sabah’s rights and entitlements should be restored to Sabah,” said Linggu.
He then said Upko should not just stop at demanding 35% of Parliamentary seats and should incorporate the Cobbold Commission recommendation that the number of future seats for the Borneo states should take into consideration their “size and potentialities”.
“For easy reference, West Malaysia is 130,495 sq km, Sabah 73,620 sq km and Sarawak 124,449 sq km and Sabah and Sarawak produce more than 60% of Malaysia’s oil and gas output and palm oil production,” he pointed out.
Upko, he added, should also be championing the rights and causes of Sabah and its people as well as ask the federal government for more senatorships.
Sabah deserves more Senators
He pointed out that currently Sabah has just two Senators while Peninsular Malaysia has 24 Senators and even Labuan has one Senatorship while the Federal Government gets to nominate 40 senators.
“The Cobbold Commission recommended that the Sabah and Sarawak should get eight senators and since Singapore has left, the allocation for Singapore should go to Sabah and Sarawak as well.
“For the federal nominated senators, Sabah and Sarawak should get at least half of the 40.
“Well, what say you Upko? The ball is in your court,” Linggu added.
Coincidentally, a former close colleague of Jeffrey and co-founder of the NGO, Nilakrisna James, who helped write up UBF’s Borneo Agenda, is now a member of Upko.
The NGO was set up in December last year to struggle for justice and rights of Sabah and Sarawak as stipulated in the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
It was launched as a network grouping for Sabahans and Sarawakians to assert their rights and to work with NGOs, individuals and political parties that shared its cause.