Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan's latest comment is a reflection of his lack of understanding of Sabah's history, says Jeffrey Kitingan.
KOTA KINABALU July 16, 2012: Is local opposition State Reform Party (STAR) getting on Umno’s nerves? STAR chairman Jeffrey Kitingan seems to think so.
According to him, a “desperate” Umno-Barisan Nasional is now inventing new ways to discredit the issues raised by STAR and Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan has been “assigned” the duty.
“But unfortunately for BN, [because of Abdul Rahman's action in] disturbing the hornets’ nest, STAR and [fellow opposition] SAPP [Sabah Progressive People's Party] have reaped a lot of propaganda benefits by making compelling arguments against him,” said Jeffrey.
He said Abdul Rahman’s latest statement attested to this.
Abdul Rahman, who is Sabah BN secretary, had earlier last week said that Sabah was a unitary state in Malaysia from the beginning of Malaysia’s formation on Sept 16, 1963.
Commenting on the statement, Jeffrey said: “They (BN) had lost the media debate on the big issue of the 20 points being still relevant, even crucial to the very existence of Malaysia.
“Now they are moving to one of the most important issues being raised by STAR, which was the nation status of the Borneo states within the federation of Malaysia.”
Jeffrey said that Sabah’s original status as a nation was well-documented in point 18 of the 20-Point Agreement in which it was promised that Sabah’s head of states was to be called “Yang di-Pertua Negara”. This term had already been used earlier on.
He said (first prime minister) Tunku Abdul Rahman himself had promised that “Sabah and Sarawak will not become the 12th and 13th states of Malaya”.
“As I see it, Abdul Rahman’s remark that Sabah and Sarawak joined the Federation as the 12th and 13th states of Malaysia is a typical Umno stand that not only reflects his lack of understanding of history on the formation of Malaysia but confirms my opinion that many of our Sabah leaders are mere stooges and proxies of Kuala Lumpur leaders.
“These Sabah leaders no longer have the heart and desire to fight for the special rights and position of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia,” Jeffrey said.
‘Tunku assured us self-governance’
He concurred with SAPP’s Luyang assemblywoman Melania Chia who reportedly said that Abdul Rahman had been discriminative and had chosen to highlight only the last paragraph of the Malaysia Proclamation to state his claim that Sabah is only one of the 13 states and had “not read the preceding paragraph of the proclamation”.
Said Jeffrey: “One cannot simply pick up a paragraph in the proclamation which mentions Sabah and Sarawak along with the [other] states in Malaya [and say] that this makes the two independent states as simply additions to the existing states of Malaya.
“If this was the case, then why bother to call it Malaysia? Why not simply add Sabah and Sarawak as states of Malaya?
“Or why did the British bother to give independence and nationhood to Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah [North Borneo] before forming Malaysia?
“In fact, Fuad (Stephen, a former Sabah chief minister) was even quoted as rejecting Malaysia should Sabah and Sarawak be made the 12th and 13th states.
“He was quoted as saying: ‘If we had been asked to join Malaysia at the time Malaya achieved independence and Britain made it possible for us, the story would have been a different one.
“’Now that ‘Merdeka’ has been Malaya’s for some years. And we are still struggling towards it; Malaya’s proposal that we join as the 12th and 13th states savours of imperialism, of a drive to turn us into Malayan colonies… the implication is [that we] hand [ourselves) over to your control.’ ”
Jeffrey added that even Tunku was quoted as giving Sabah an assurance of “self-government”.
“Even Tunku was quoted as saying: ‘The important aspect 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,’” he said.
‘We were four nations’
Jeffrey pointed out that Malaysia’s Constitution was supposed to have been a completely new constitution and that Sabah and Sarawak promulgated their own constitution and national anthem, which clearly indicated that it is a nation among a group of nations in a new federation called Malaysia.
“Who are the other nations? Namely, Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak.
“These nation states along with Britain signed the Malaysia Agreement 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia based on agreed terms and conditions and they had nothing to do with the subservient unitary states of Malaya.
“The fact that the then proposed federation was not to be a unitary state but to be a new sovereign state within a family of nations was clearly set out in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report.
“The report states that: ‘Federation Not Unitary: All delegations acknowledge the desirability that all component states should retain their identity and autonomy; the possibility of Malaysia being formed as a unitary state was never considered.
“’Federation defined: An association of several sovereign states with a central organ vested with powers directly over the citizens of the member state and in certain defined circumstances over the member states themselves. There would be a central government and also state governments, but from the view point of international law, the collection of states forming the federation would be recognised as one sovereign state within a family of nations.’”
Jeffrey urged Abdul Rahman to “find it in his heart” to defend the position of Sabah instead of running down STAR’s struggle to restore the state’s genuine rights.
He also reiterated his offer to give Sabah Umno and BN MPs including Abdul Rahman a full account of how Sabah had been played out and down-graded from one of four equal partners to one of 13 states.