KOTA KINABALU: The fight for Sabah's and Sarawak's rights and autonomy has been geared up more seriously with the sealing of a collaboration last Tuesday between two NGOs.
The President of the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIM), Daniel John Jambun, said that a historic meeting with BOPIM and the Sarawak Sovereignty Movement (SSM) held in Kuching on last June 11 was to commit to "fighting for the sovereignty of Sabah and Sarawak."
Jambun in a joint-statement with SSM's spokesman, Dato' Moshidi Abdul Rahman, said that the gist of the BOPIM-SSM approach is for the revival of the two states' sovereignty as were achieved on August 31, 1963 for Sabah, and on July 22, 1963 for Sarawak.
The NGOs see 2013 as an opportune year for the united NGO's to commence pursuit of this long-overdue objective epecially because 2013 marks the 50th year of the Malaysia Agreement.
"At the same time we want to explore further the deeper nature of the relationship that both Sabah and Sarawak should have with Malaya after the restoration of the sovereignties of the Borneo states," they said. "One idea is that when it comes to Sabah and Sarawak, the Federal Government should confine itself to defence, foreign affairs and national economic planning.
"We need to seriously re-look at the whole history and arrangement of the Malaysian federation. Firstly, we are of the position that there not been a proper referendum conducted in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya prior to the formation of Malaysia," the joint statement said.
Jambun explained that the BOPIM-SSM stance is that because of the absence of a referendum, the Government in Putrajaya/Kuala Lumpur saw no compelling reason to fulfill the provisions of the Malaysia Agreement, and this had led to a lot of what is now seen as non-compliance.
"We must be aware of the fact that the Cobbold Commission was not a referendum. It was merely a survey and this clearly was an open British and Malayan breach and transgression of the United Nation’s Protocols on Decolonization."
BOPIM and SSM also assert that there is no 'Constitution of Malaysia' but a 'Federal Constitution' which is a modified version of the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya 1957.'
Now what we have is the codified Constitution of the Federation of Malaya being passed off as the Constitution of Malaysia, which leads to the implication that the Federation of Malaya as masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia.
"This is perhaps the reason why the whole world, and even Malayans, still sees Malaya as Malaysia, without seeing Sabah and Sarawak as important components of the federation," Jambun said. "But within Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are being referred to as the 12th and 13th states after the departure of Singapore which saw the definition of Federation in the Constitution being amended to the disadvantages of the Borneo states.
"We can then interpret that September 16, 1963 became the day that Malaya re-colonized Sabah and Sarawak. As such BOPIM-SSM tends to see this day more as 'Colonisation Day' instead of Malaysia Day."
The two NGOs say they are fighting for sovereignty because it will bring immense benefits to both Sabah and Sarawak.
"For starters, it will help resolve the burning issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah in particular and their presence on the electoral rolls. It’s an open secret that these illegal immigrants and other foreigners have also been handed MyKads meant for citizens by operation of law. We will have much fairer shares of our revenues and be more independent in formulating our own socio-economic planning and overall nation-building efforts.
"The continued occupation of Sabah and Sarawak by Malaya, if not reversed, will only result in the people in general and the Orang Asal in particular losing their countries to the illegal immigrants," the joint statement said. "The restoration of sovereignty will also help the two nations in Borneo to realize their full potential in every field of human endeavour. In short, they can be developed nations on their own right and be free from being forced to lag behind Malaya in all aspects of development.
"We need look no further than Singapore and Brunei to realize what the restoration of sovereignty would mean. Both countries, one left Malaysia after two years and the other stayed out at the 11th hour, are decades years ahead of Sabah and Sarawak in terms of economic prosperity.
"At present, as announced by the World Bank in Kota Kinabalu in Dec 2010, Sabah and Sarawak are the poorest parts of Malaysia. Sabah is the poorest with Sarawak being a distant 2nd poorest.
"A truly progressive Malaysia should be one that has balanced development for the whole federation instead of a development system which focuses mostly on Malaya at the expenses of the Borneo states."