KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — A royal commission of inquiry (RCI) is needed to see if Sabah and Sarawak’s “dreams and aspirations” in forming Malaysia with Malaya 49 years ago has been “fulfilled or betrayed”, Lim Kit Siang said today.
The DAP parliamentary leader called for all MPs from Sabah and Sarawak to give their unanimous support when he proposes such an RCI in the next Parliamentary sitting.
“The people of Sarawak and Sabah were promised progress and development, at least to the level achieved by the Peninsula states,”
Lim said in a speech in Kuching, Sarawak during Pakatan Rakyat’s Malaysia Day celebrations today.
“Have these promises to Sabah and Sarawak been fulfilled in the past five decades? The answer must be a loud no.”
“Where has all the wealth of Sabah and Sarawak gone to in the past five decades?” he asked.
Using official statistics from the 2009 National Household Income Survey Report and from the Economic Planning Unit, Lim pointed out that the two east Malaysian states had the highest rate of overall poverty and rural poverty.
- Sabah’s overall poverty is the nation’s highest at 19.7 per cent, while Sarawak is third at 5.3 per cent.
- The nation’s rural poverty rate is again headed by Sabah at 32.8 per cent, with Sarawak placing second at 8.4 per cent.
- The poverty income line in Sabah is the highest at RM1,048, with Sarawak being the second highest at RM912. Peninsula Malaysia’s line stands at RM763.
“Let there be a national debate and soul-searching as to how two of the richest states in Malaysia, namely Sarawak and Sabah, have been reduced in five decades to be among the poorest and the most inequitable states in the federation...,” said Lim.
Lim said that his visits to the interior of the two states had shown that “there are deep-seated frustrations and dissatisfactions that the two promises of constitutional safeguards and development progress...had not been realised.”
“I think there is no more meaningful manner for Sarawak and Sabah to mark their 50 years of Malaysian nationhood than to conduct a comprehensive review of the successes and failures in all aspects of development in these two states in the past five decades with feedback from the people Sabah and Sarawak as well as to review the constitutional safeguards as contained in the 18 Points for Sarawak and 20 Points for Sabah.”
Lim said that both states face the problems of corruption, unresolved native land issues, lack of basic infrastructure and breach of constitutional safeguards.
He also pointed to Sabah’s long-standing illegal immigrant issue, saying that the prime minister had “taken more than six months” before finally announcing the terms of reference and panel for an RCI to probe the matter.
“More than a month has passed since Najib’s announcement, but there are no signs that the RCI has started work or its members have been presented with their Instruments of Appointment — which is pertinent as the six months given to the RCI to complete its report is to take effect from their official appointments,” Lim said.
The prime minister has given the RCI six months to finish the probe, and PR leaders have questioned if the probe would be completed before the 13th general elections.
The federal opposition have claimed that citizenships were given out by the Sabah BN government in exchange for votes, and insist that the RCI will clean the electoral roll.
“This raises the serious question whether the RCI (on illegal immigrants) would be another meaningless public relations exercise...” Lim said.
Federal seats in east Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak are expected to be BN’s focal point come the general election as both states, including the federal territory of Labuan, contribute a significant 57 seats, or 25 per cent of the 222 parliamentary seats available.
In Election 2008, BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority largely due to significant losses in the peninsula. The opposition won 82 seats to BN’s 140.
BN’s saving grace was in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan where the coalition trounced the opposition in a near-clean sweep, winning 55 parliamentary seats to the opposition’s two.
However, with the recent defections, BN now holds 53 parliamentary seats in east Malaysia, while the opposition’s score is now four.
By Ida Lim
The people of Sarawak and Sabah were promised progress and development at least to the level achieved by the peninsular states. Have these promises been fulfilled in the past five decades?
KUCHING September 17, 2012: DAP’s veteran leader Lim Kit Siang has called on the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to assess whether the dreams of Sarawakians and Sabahans in forming Malaysia have been fulfilled or betrayed in the past five decades to make Sarawak’s 50th Malaysia Day truly historic and meaningful.
“I will make such a proposal for the third time in the forthcoming Parliament beginning next week.
“Will Sarawak and Sabah MPs whether BN or Pakatan Rakyat, give it unanimous support?” Lim asked.
The Ipoh Timur MP was addressing a large gathering at Chonglin Park in Kuching on Sunday to celebrate Pakatan’s 49th Malaysia Day celebration.
“If BN is confident that it has a great record of ‘Janji Ditepati’ in Sarawak and Sabah 49 years after the formation of Malaysia, the BN government would have fully exploited the opportunity to showcase its ‘Jangi Ditepati’ achievements and accept my proposal for the establishment of an RCI to assess whether the dreams and aspirations of Sarawakians and Sabahans in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in the past five decades.
“I specifically made this proposal in Parliament during the debate on the Royal Address for two consecutive years in March 2010 and March 2011, but there was no support not only from the Barisan Nasional government but also zero support from the BN MPs from Sarawak and Sabah.
“I made this proposal for an RCI as far back as 2010 because this will be a most meaningful way to prepare for the 50th anniversary of Malaysia Day in 2013, putting all the shortfalls and failures of the deal promises of constitutional safeguards and development progress in the two states in proper perspective and in the forefront of the national agenda,” he said.
Before Malaysia was formed in 1963, a Cobbold Commission conducted a fact-finding survey of the people of Sarawak and Sabah for their views as to whether the new nation should be established out of the federation of Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore with Malaya.
Numerous fact-finding tours were also organised at that time to send Sarawak and Sabah leaders to Malaya to see for themselves the benefits and developments Sarawak and Sabah would enjoy if they agree to the establishment of Malaysia.
“It was preciously on the dual promises of the constitutional safeguards for Sarawak (the 18 points) and Sabah (20 points) and the material and development rewards the two states would enjoy that the new Malaysian nation was formed in 1963.
“Let there be a national debate and soul searching as to how the two richest states in Malaysia have been reduced in five decades to be among the poorest and most inequitable states in the federation,” he said.
Seeking support in Parliament
According to the official statistics from the 2009 National Household Income Survey Report, Sabah’s incidence of poverty overall was the highest at 19.7%, while Sarawak came third with 5.3%.
For the incidence of rural poverty, Sabah was again the highest at 32.8%. Sarawak came second at 8.4%.
“Have these promises to the two states been fulfilled in the past five decades? The answers must be a loud No.
“Where have all the wealth of Sabah and Sarawak gone to in the past decades?” he asked, pointing out that after the five decades, many in the interiors of the two states even lacked the most basic infrastructures to be found in the rest of Malaysia, like regular electricity supply, uninterrupted piped water and good roads and bridges as well as the most basic of health and educational facilities.
“I call upon Sarawak and Sabah MPs to support my call for the setting up of RCI in Parliament next week,” Lim said.