Putrajaya should set up RCI on MA63

Photo credit: FMT

The importance of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Borneo in Malaysia can be belittled and reduced in importance for a Technical Committee to consider.

PRESS STATEMENT When a reporter asked Superman why he was in America from a faraway galaxy, the reply was “to fight for truth, justice and the American way”.

The reporter cautioned, “in that case, you will be fighting every elected public official in the country”.

“Superman said, ‘surely you don’t mean that’. The reporter replied, ‘Yes, I do’.”

In citing the analogy, we are begging to differ with Putrajaya’s establishment of a Technical Committee — as announced by de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri — on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and related constitutional documents. It’s a case of too little, too late.

The way forward would be to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on MA63 and the 1963 Arrangement.

A Technical Committee belittles MA63 and reduces its importance. A Technical Committee would have been more appropriate in the early years after 16 September 1963 if it was on the basis that there was compliance.

The MA63 called for the establishment of mechanisms to translate the guarantees, undertakings and assurances on Malaysia into concrete, practical and meaningful action. Unfortunately, no such mechanisms were set up.

A promised 10-year review of MA63 was never held in 1973. Instead, came the 1976 amendment to “alter” MA63.

There’s great fear that a Technical Committee 53 years after Malaysia Day may degenerate into whitewashing the “clear non-compliance” on MA63.

The Malayan way is not the Borneo Way.

Putrajaya has not shifted the focus of the Technical Committee from “devolution” to “non-compliance” on MA63. The Committee cannot say, at the end of the day, that certain aspects of MA63 were not complied with because Sabah and Sarawak agreed.

It was not the Intention of the Founding Fathers in Borneo for North Borneo and Sarawak to join the Federation of Malaya.

The RCI’s Terms of Reference (TOR) must proceed on the basis that MA63 is an International Treaty and Trust Agreement, that it cannot be amended by the Malaysian Parliament or ignored by the Federal Constitution, and that it was not complied with given Article 1 and Article 160.

Article 1 in the Federal Constitution refers to Sabah and Sarawak — since 1976 — as the 12th and 13th states in the Federation. Until the Federal Constitution was amended in 1976, Sabah and Sarawak were Equal to Malaya in a two-tier Federation.

The Definition of “Federation” in Article 160 refers to the “Federation” set up in 1948 under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948 and reinforced by the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957. The Federation of Malaya cannot be read as the Federation of Malaysia.

Malaysia is not Greater Malaya. It’s an Equal Federation of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.

If Malaya wants to call itself Malaysia, the two-tier Federation should be known as the Federation of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia.


Daniel John Jambun


Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), United Kingdom


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