The month of Tadau Ka’amatan or Harvest Festival this year had not been as carefree as in recent past, with a dark shadow casting over both Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.
This shadow is highlighted by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of national unity, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, when in a most uncharacteristic warning going against his very portfolio of national unity, he cautioned Putrajaya that Sabahans and Sarawakians may demand to split from peninsular Malaysia if the proposed amendments to Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 are passed in Parliament.
What is most sad is that the Ministerial motion to give priority to PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill motion in Parliament on Thursday was proposed without the consent of the other non-UMNO parties in the 14-party Barisan Nasional coalition, the seconder of the Ministerial motion is a Sabahan Deputy Minister.
The time has come for a Joint Royal Commission co-chaired by a Sabahan and a Sarawakian to inquire into the full implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) especially with regard to autonomy powers for Sabah and Sarawak.
On the occasion of Tadau Ka’amatan 2016, Putrajaya must be reminded of the 54-year guarantees and undertakings immortalized in the Keningau Batu Sumpah to uphold religious freedom, land and native rights and customs.
The three key pledges in the Keningau Batu Sumpah 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?
This should be one of the terms of reference of the Joint Royal Commission on the full implementation of Malaysia Agreement 1963.
What the Ranau Council of Churches said in its Ka’amatan Message should also be given serious attention by Putrajaya and the Joint Royal Commission on the full implementation of Malaysian Agreement 1963.
Commending the Sarawak Government for “taking a public stand in declaring its commitment to seek for the realignment of the Federal Constitution and national laws with MA63″, the Council recalled that the covenant of the Malaysian Agreement was based on certain principles, viz. fairness and justice, and equal opportunities for development for the Borneo States.
Several areas were particularly negotiated and agreed on by all parties concerned, which include religious freedom, education, representation in the Malaysian Parliament, the position of the indigenous races, immigration, citizenship and the Constitutions of the Borneo States.
It said: “Today however, our abundance in natural resources is not reflected in our economic growth and the standard of living of our people.
“The harvest is poor.
“Today, we voice out our innermost desire for the spirit and truth of MA63 to be brought to light and restored in its entirety.”
These deepest concerns of Sabahans, as well as Sarawakians, must be addressed, and there is no better way to do so than by way of a Joint Royal Commission on the full implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Such a Joint Royal Commission on the full implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will also be proper forum to deliberate on the outcome of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah Report, or whether the Report is just gathering dust when the four decades-old issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah cries out for resolution.
(Pesta Kaamatan 2016 Message on Sunday, 29th May 2016)