Sunday, 21 November 2010



TO quote an excellent online report, The question of autonomy in Sabah and Sarawak was raised in Parliament on the 3rd of November 2010 by the Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng. He asked the Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak to state why there is no full autonomy and power given to the two East Malaysian states.

The PM in his answer said that the duties and responsibilities of the Federal and State government are spelled out in the Malaysian National Constitution under clause 9 and 10 respectively. Under the two clauses, the Federal government will at any time help the two East Malaysian states in their development and economy uplifting.

The federal government will assist even with financial aids. Since the formation of Malaysia, people in Sabah and Sarawak are free to select their choice of leaders through the process of general election. The federal government never involved and interfered with the process of democracy, and given full freedom to the Sabahan and Sarawakain to decide their own destiny and future well being.

“Federal government also is responsible to protect the safety of the two states. We protected the rights in Sabah from the Philippines and the border issues with Brunei and Indonesia. This is to show the commitment and responsibility of the Federal government which is supported by all. On the development aspect, the government never left Sabah and Sarawak behind.”

“The Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) and the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) have already been launched to push the economy and to increase the income of the people. If the people give their full corporation, the corridor will produce good result and future in the two states. The issue of autonomy should not be brought up because the government will fulfill their promises and the responsibility fully.”

“Even though if Sabah is run by an opposition party, the Federal government will still give full help and support towards the opposition state. The two states should not dig on the issue of autonomy any more. This is because the opposition in the two states are playing on the issue, and stirring up the sentiment of the people in order to win the votes in the coming general election.”

The Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Dr. Hiew King Cheu took exception to this view, saying it reflects an attitude of the Prime Minister as looking down on the wisdom of the East Malaysian in Sabah and Sarawak.

“The opposition representatives in two states mentioned the autonomy repeatedly is not to gain votes number but we are trying to remind the federal government not to treat us like second class citizen and can be play around with,” he said.

I agree with Hiew, and I cannot accept the PM’s stand that “The two states should not dig on the issue of autonomy anymore.”

The government may find this idea of Sabah’s autonomy to be a new irritation but it is made based on very strong reasons. The most important of this reasons is that, at the beginning of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak were promised a sizable autonomy to determine their own future, mainly through the 20 Point for Sabah and 18 Point for Sarawak. But most of these powers for self-determination have been eroded over the last forty over years.

For example, we were promised that there would be no official religion for the two states; Sarawak managed to retain this right until now but Sabah had lost it. We never had Borneonization and until now most heads of departments in Sabah are West Malaysians.

The National Registration Department in Sabah has been making numerous blunders in people’s names and religious identification due to the departments lack of understanding about Sabah’s demography.

Another area in which Sabah should have full control is the registration of societies. In the case of political parties, the federal government has the absolute power to accept or reject, depending on how it will affect the ruling coalition.

It is general knowledge that the federal government would most likely reject the registration of a Malay/Muslim-based party (such as a revived Usno) and would be always happy to register another KDM-based party, as a means to help the divide-and-rule federal agenda.

This means we are being manipulated by KL within the reality of the politics of federalism. With coming of UMNO into Sabah and grabbing power illegally in 1994, another Sabah right and autonomy disappeared – the right to appoint our own Chief Minister. Now the West Malaysians enjoy a sense of victory that now Sabah’s political arrangement is mostly in their hands, and even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with his Malay/Muslim agenda, is pushing for this erosion of right and autonomy to continue under PKR!

Even immigration right and autonomy is now thinly protected with freer access by West Malaysians to Sabah. The big question is, why is Sarawak still holding full immigration powers – we have to use passports to enter the state – while other Malaysians do not have to when they enter Sabah? Why the difference? Another way the federal government has been violating the rights of Sabahans is the easy entry of illegal immigrants which, after three decades, has radically changed the demography of Sabah.

The original peoples of the land are losing their majority and importance as natives as a result of this demographic gerrymandering. It is not true that the federal government is doing everything possible to protect Sabah. We all know that foreigners with dubious MyKads are already in our electoral rolls. We have sold our sovereignty for a narrow political objective which has put the nation into danger of experiencing reverse takeover.

The PM is not being truthful when he said that “The federal government never involved and interfered with the process of democracy, and given full freedom to the Sabahan and Sarawakian to decide their own destiny and future well being.” And if the federal government never left Sabah and Sarawak in development, why had Sabah become the poorest state in Malaysia?

Indeed, there are many more complaints we can voice out with regard to rights and autonomy for Sabah. In fact the issue can fill up a whole book! So, it is really a high insult to the intelligence of Sabahans for the federal leaders to say that the opposition is raising this issue to gain sympathy and votes, and that it should no longer be raised. So what are supposed to do? Just nod our heads and accept everything the BN leaders are trying to make us believe? If that’s the case why should we go into politics at all?

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