On the occasion of the 49th Malaysia Day, Catholic Bishop Datuk Cornelius Piong in his message questioned if a 49-year-old agreement symbolised by the Keningau Batu Sumpah to uphold religious freedom and other native rights and customs had been kept.
Piong said that 49 years ago leaders from the federation of Malaya promised the people of Sabah they would progress together and have their basic human rights protected, as part of a campaign to convince them to join forces and form Malaysia, with partner states Sarawak and Singapore.
The three key pledges Piong highlighted were guarantees that Sabahans would have freedom of religion, their native land would be safeguarded by the state government and the federal government would respect and protect Sabah local customs.
“Are these promises still being respected and honoured?” Piong asked in his Malaysia Day message.
He said: “The agreement was carved on an oath stone (Batu Sumpah Peringatan) which is still visible read and remembered.”
I first visited the Keningau district council’s administration centre in March 2010 where the Oath Stone still stands, and engraved on the Oath Stone are the words:
“BATU SUMPAH MENGIKUT PERLEMBAGAAN
1. Ugama Bebas dalam Sabah
2. Tanah Tanah dalam Sabah di kuasai oleh Kerajaan Sabah
3. Adat istiadat anak rayat Sabah dihormatkan dan dipelihara oleh Kerajaan. Sebalik pula rayat2 Sabah di dalam interior bersumpah taat setia kepada Kerajaan Malaysia.”
After my March 2010 visit to the Keningau Batu Sumpah, I had asked: “These were the terms of the oath of loyalty of the Sabahans from the interior five decades ago in exchange for the formation of Malaysia. Have these solemn pledges laid out in the Keningau Batu Sumpah been honoured by both sides?”
Two weeks ago, as part of the DAP Sabah state-wide “Janji Ditepati” Public Hearings, I returned to Keningau and together with the MP for Tuaran, Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing, revisited the historic Keningau Oath Stone and I came away more convinced of the legitimacy and relevance of the proposal I had made in Parliament after my first visit to the Keningau Oath Stone in March 2010 – that there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry to assess whether the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in the past five decades.
I had said in 2010 that such a RCI would be the most meaningful way of preparing for the 50th anniversary of Malaysia Day on 16th September 2013, and although there is less than a year left to the 50th Malaysia Day anniversary celebrations next September, the reasons for such a RCI remains valid, sound and pertinent.
I call on all MPs, whether BN or PR, whether in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsular Malaysia to support a RCI to assess whether dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in past five decades
An assessment of the development of the terms and conditions of the three key pledges of the Keningau Oath Stone and the Sabah 20-Points Agreement and Sarawak’s 18-Points Agreement would be a major contribution to making the 50th Malaysia Day anniversary a really meaningful occasion.
When I visited Tamparuli with Wilfred Bumburing a fortnight ago, former Tuaran MP Datuk Monggoh Orow spoke of the plight of Sabahan particularly those who are landless.
This is a clear violation of the “Land” pledge in the Keningau Oath Stone, which is scandalous, outrageous and even downright criminal, for such marginalisation, poverty and socio-economic backwardness should not take place in the second largest state in Malaysia after Sarawak.
A Pakatan Rakyat government will immediately implement a policy of “Land for the Landless” for genuine Sabahans who want to work the land, and we will eradicate the present abuses of power where huge chunks of land are grabbed by those those in power or for their cronies. Is Barisan Nasional prepared to do the same?
This is a specific instance where the Three Fundamental Pledges of the Keningau Oath Stone have not been complied with, and it is appropriate, timely and most pertinent that the hopes and aspirations of Sabahans as encapsulated in the Keningau Oath Stone is brought to the attention of the highest political chamber in the land – Parliament.
At the Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia Day celebration in Kuching on Sept. 16, Pakatan Rakyat leaders pledged a New Deal for Sabah and Sarawak, adopting the Kuching Declaration committed to the fulfilment of the hopes and aspirations of the people of Sabah and Sarawak in terms of infrastructure development and protection of their fundamental rights in forming Malaysia 49 years ago in 1963.
After 49 years in Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are afflicted with the curses of CLIB while Sabah has an additional curse of “I”, i.e. CLIB for Sarawak and CLIBI for Sabah – “C” for corruption, :”L” for Land (NCR) injustices, “I” for Infrastructure (backwardness) and “B” for Borneanisation (breach), while the last “I” for Sabah stands for “Illegal Immigrants”.
Although Fighting Corruption is one of the priority six National Key Result Areas (NKRA) of Najib’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Malaysia’s corruption has gone from bad to worse in the past three years as tracked by Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index.
In Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are the two top states where corruption is most rampant and intractable.
So far, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has nothing to say about investigations into serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power against both the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
I fully agree with the former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Adviser, Tan Sri Robert Phang, who said yesterday that the international anti-corruption conference in Kuala Lumpur today is a waste of time and an occasion for the Malaysian government to pretend that it is serious about fighting graft.
I do not think any MP serious about the cancer of corruption in our body politic would disagree with Phang that the sixth conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities being held in Kuala Lumpur would ber worthwhile only if the Malaysian delegation were to use it as an opportunity to address long-standing corruption allegations against the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.
I would add the Sabah Chief Minister and Sarawak Chief Minister to Gani Patail as the “test of the trio” as to whether there is the real political will in Malaysia to combat “Grand Corruption” – which is why Malaysia’s Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranking and score have fallen to the lowest levels of No. 60 at 4.3 score in the past 18 years.
Can the Prime Minister give Parliament and nation and update of the actions being taken by MACC with regard to the various police reports lodged against the “trio” with regard to corruption – in particular with regardf to lawyer Zainal Abidin Ahmad’s recent book, “Tan Sri Gani Patail: Pemalsu, Penipu, Penjenayah (Fraud, Liar, Criminal)?”?
Let me return to CLIB for Sarawak and CLIBI for Sabah.
2. Land (NCR) injustices
The second major issue in Sabah and Sarawak five decades after the formation of Malaysia is the plight of the Kadazans, Dusuns and Muruts in Sabah and Dayaks of Sarawak over Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
As the Kuching High Court judge, Justice Linto Albert said in his judgment in the landmark “Pantu” NCR case:, “These are cries for justice because one cannot simply throw one’s hands in the air and say that is how life is”!
I endorse the statement by the Sarawak DAP State Chairman, MP for Sibu and State Assemblyman for Bukit Assek, Wong Ho Leng, “as the largest state in Malaysia, no one in Sarawak should be land hungry” – and this is equally pertinent to Sabah – but clearly this principle can only be established by a Pakatan Rakyat and not Barisan Nasional government.
3. Infrastructure (backwardness)
Both in Sabah and Sarawak, one of the greatest grievances is the failure to provide the most basic infrastructure facilities, like roads, piped water and electricity.
Both Sabah and Sarawak are states with rich natural resources, whether oil, gas, palm oil or timber, but the wealth of the state have been hijacked by BN leaders and their cronies instead of being ploughed back to ensure that the people in two states enjoy the most basic of infrastructure resources – instead of the scandalous situation in many places in the two states, where there are water pipes without water, electric poles without power supply or hospitals without doctors.
The schizophrenic reaction of Barisan Nasional to the Pakatan Rakyat’s 2013 Budget pledge for a complete and upgraded Pan-Borneo Highway connecting Kuching to Kota Kinabalu and the east coast of Sabah to bring development in Sabah and Sarawak to be at par with Peninsular Malaysia illustrates this long-standing grievance of neglect and marginalisation.
4. Borneanisation (breach)
Barisan Nasional’s failure to honour the “Borneanisation” undertaking contained in the 18-Point Agreement was recently highlighted by the proposal by Tun Zaki Azmi, chairman of the Special Review Commission on Civil Service Transformation, to lower the requirements for Dayaks and ethnic minority groups to enter the civil service so as to address the imbalance of racial composition within the civil service.
Zaki’s proposal had been lambasted by Dayaks leaders on both sides of the political divide as an insult and mockery of the Dayak community, as they contended there are enough qualified people from Dayaks and the minority groups but the problem is the absence of meritocracy not only for recruitment but also promotion in the civil service.
Zaki must be thanked for highlighting the failure of the Barisan Nasional government to implement Borneanisation as promised in the 18-Point Agreement for Sarawak and 20-Point for Sabah in the past five decades, resulting in the sense of grievance, marginalisation and discrimination by the Dayak, Kadazan-Dusun-Murut and ethnic minority groups in the two states with regard to the civil service.
Point 8 of Sabah’s 20-Point Agreement and Sarawak’s 18-Point Agreement 1963 leading to the formation of Malaysia states:
“8. Borneanisation: of the public services should proceed as quickly as possible.”
Recently, the favourite slogan on the lips of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is “Janji Ditepati”.
Has Point 8 of the 20-Pt Agreement on Borneanisation been honoured?
In reply to my question in Parliament, the Prime Minister has disclosed that out of 133 Federal Departments (including Federal statutory bodies) in Sabah, 61 (45.9%) agencies are headed by Sabahans while 72 (54.1%) are headed by non-Sabahans.
Furthermore, according to the Prime Minister’s reply, “Sehingga 14 September 2012, pegawai kelahiran Sabah yang memegang jawatan tertinggi (Gred Utama/Khas dan keatas) di Perkhidmatan Awam Persekutuan ialah seramai 19 orang. Daripada jumlah tersebut, seorang pegawai masing-masing berada di Gred Utama Turus 1, Gred Utama Turus 2 dan Gred Utama A. Tiga pegawai Gred Utama B serta 13 pegawai di Gred Utama dan Gred Khas C.”
Is this “Janji Ditepati”?
(5) Illegal Immigrants
CLIBI for Sabah – the second “I” refers to the long-standing problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
A recent September poll result in Sabah released after Najib’s budget presentation listed illegal immigrants the topmost concern of Sabahans and why there had been a drop to just 54 per cent of voters polled in September who felt that the state was headed in the right direction, a marked decline from a high of 66 per cent in a previous survey conducted in November 2009.
A whopping 53 per cent of voters surveyed listed the illegal immigration problem as the most important issue being faced Sabah.
The survey found that an overwhelming 87 per cent agreed with the establishment of the RCI into illegal immigrants (RCIII) in Sabah.
But confidence in the effectiveness of the RCIII was more circumspect — with
only 54 per cent expressing confidence that the commission will be able to address the problem.
The survey also found that Sabah voters had mixed views as to the motivation behind the establishment of the commission, with 46 per cent saying it was “a genuine attempt to address the illegal immigrant problem” while 36 per cent agreeing that it was a “political move to reduce the anger of Sabahans before the election”.
I share in the scepticism that the RCIII is a serious step to resolve the long-standing problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah, as the Barisan Nasional does not possess the political will to resolve this problem once and for all but merely wanted to give the impression that something is being done to address the problem in order to lure Sabah votes in the “fixed deposit” state in the coming general election.
This is why the Cabinet made world history in taking six months to decide on the terms of reference and composition of its membership after its decision on Feb. 8 to set up the RCIII, more than a month for the appointment letters to the commission members to be issued, so that the six-month time span for the RCIII to complete its work and report could begin to be computed.
But up to now, there are no reports whether the RCIII would conduct public hearings throughout the state of Sabah to allow members of the public to come forward voluntarily to testify about this long-standing problem which have made Sabahans virtually foreigners in their own land.
But should anyone particularly in Sabah be surprised by such indifferent, nonchalant and dishonest treatment of the illegal immigrant problem by Barisan Nasional considering the history of UMNO on the issue, particularly the disgraceful episode of Project Mahathir in the early nineties?
In this connection, the recent statement of a top Special Branch officer had cast grave doubts on the sincerity of the Cabinet when it took the decision in February to set up a RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah.
This top Special Branch officer is none other than the notorious assistant director of the E2 (M) national social extremist threat division head Mohd Sofian Mohd Makin who made the wild, baseless and reckless allegation that the Pakatan Rakyat was being infiltrated by Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorists in the case of PAS and by communist in the case of DAP – and who have not been able to come out with any iota of evidence when challenged to do so.
Sofian has told the press that the advocates of RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah are anti-national elements who only want to extract political capital from the issue, undermine diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Philippines and incite anti-peninsular sentiments among Sabahans.
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should declare whether Sofian represents the secret but mainstream and official thinking of the UMNO/BN Federal government on the issue of RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah, and if not, whether immediate action would be taken to suspend and discipline Sofian as he has become the worst example of a “national social extremist threat” his division in the Special Branch is supposed to be monitoring.
The long-standing illegal immigrant problem in Sabah, as well as the RCIII, is the most glaring example of the failure of the Barisan Nasional in “Janji Ditepati” – the official theme of 55th Merdeka Day and 49th Malaysia Day hijacked by the Barisan Nasional.
Sabah 20-Points and Sarawak’s 18-Points should be reviewed so as to end CLIB curses of Sarawak and the CLIBI curses of Sabah.
I call on all MPs, whether BN or PR, whether in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsular Malaysia to support a RCI to assess whether dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in past five decades.
(Speech by on the 2013 Budget on Thursday, 4th October 2012)