The Sabah activists in fact took their cue from ex-political detainee and Bingkor Assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan who had been waging a lonely battle on MA63 since 1985.
PRESS STATEMENT The Sarawak Government has “stolen the thunder” from Sabah activists on the way forward in Borneo . At one time, only activists in Sabah were taking up MA63 in local and international forums. The Sarawak Government then took up the cause when a few activists in Sarawak joined us.
The Sabah activists in fact took their cue from ex-political detainee and Bingkor Assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan who had been waging a lonely battle on MA63 since 1985. He argued that there had been non-compliance on the part of the Malaysian Government.
Putrajaya claimed that it had mostly complied. That’s not good enough. There must be total compliance.
We are nevertheless happy that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem handed over two Memorandums on MA63 to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on Monday. Let’s hope the Sarawak Government makes public the two Memorandums.
These are matters of public interest and public concern. The people must participate in the process.
We can only hazard a guess on what the Memorandums contain. Obviously, they would include the Motion on MA63 passed unanimously by the Sarawak Assembly.
The Motion is the most significant step taken since Malaysia Day, 16 September 1963, on the relations between a government in Borneo and the Federal Government in Putrajaya. The Motion provides the basis for the Sarawak Government to engage with the Malaysian Government.
The Motion was based on MA63 and international law which governs self-determination, the UN Charter and the Rule of Law.
In short, the Motion is about ensuring legitimacy in the relationship between the Malaysian and Sarawak Governments and with Sabah . It’s not about revisiting the illegalities since 1963 but ensuring there’s legitimacy in the relations between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya .
The Federal Government has its place in Malaysia under MA63, but so do the Sabah and Sarawak Governments. The arrangement between Malaysia , Sabah and Sarawak can only be governed by MA63 and the related constitutional documents on the 1963 Arrangement.
The relationship between the Federal Government and the states in Malaya , in contrast, is governed by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948, reinforced by the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957. Article 160 of the Federal Constitution defines the Federation.
If the 1948 Federation is argued as the basis for the 1963 Federation, the constitutional experts will find that it does not mean that Sabah and Sarawak joined the Malayan Federation in 1976.
In 1976, the Federal Constitution was amended to read that Sabah and Sarawak were henceforth the 12th and 13th states in the Malayan Federation, now the Malaysian Federation. Before 1976, Article 1 read that Sabah and Sarawak were Equal Partners of Malaya in the two-tier Federation.
At the first tier, there was the Federation of the States of Malaya. At the higher and second tier, there was the Federation of Equal Partnership of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya .
We can take an intelligent guess that one of the two Memorandums submitted by Adenan to Najib would point out that the 1963 Arrangement called for an Equal Partnership of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya . Hence, the 1976 Amendment was not in compliance with MA63, an International Treaty signed by five governments — the UK , Sabah, Sarawak , Singapore and Malaya — and lodged with the UN Secretary General as a Trust Deed although perhaps not registered as one.
Another point to consider, but perhaps not in the two Memorandums, was that Singapore objected to Sabah and Sarawak remaining in the Federation with Malaya after it ended its merger with the peninsula in 1965 and exited the Federation with Sabah and Sarawak as well. The bottomline is that the two Memorandums besides revisiting MA63, hopefully took up the trusteeship status of the Federal Government vis-a-vis Sabah and Sarawak .
Daniel John Jambun
Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), United Kingdom