I first visited Sabah on May 13, 1969 – the black-letter day for Malaysia when racial riots took place in Kuala Lumpur after the 1969 general elections.
Although I had been accused in the past decade by UMNO cybertroopers of causing the May 13, 1969 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur, I was actually in Kota Kinabalu to campaign for an independent candidate in the general elections in the Sabah capital, as polling day in Sabah was to be held a fortnight after the peninsular voting.
It was while I was speaking at the biggest public rally in the history of Kota Kinabalu at the time that I was told that racial riots had broken out in Kuala Lumpur.
My second visit to Sabah was in 1978. After a week-long visit to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, I had warned that Sabah faced three grave problems – the illegal immigrant problem, the crime situation and grave problem of corruption.
If my warning 38 years had been taken seriously by the relevant authorities, these three problems will not have worsened over the decades, reaching epic proportions for all these three problems.
In 1978, I estimated that the illegal immigrant population had reached 140,000 – earning me a public rebuke by the then Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Harris Salleh, who said that such a figure was baseless.
Today, the statistics of total illegal immigrant population is cited as between 1.2 million to as high as two million and despite the Report of Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Illegal Immigrants in Sabah more than two years ago, the solution of the decades-long problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah is nowhere in sight.
The problem of crime in Sabah is equally shocking and preposterous. The Land Below the Wind is famous for being a land of tranquility and harmony, and I can still remember that during my week-long visit to Sabah in 1978, Sabahans reminisced of the halcyon years in Sabah up to the fifties when houses can be left unlocked, as crime was virtually unknown in the state.
But in Sabah today, crime is rampant and ever-present, even striking in the most unexpected moments and places, and Sabahans have lost their fundamental human right to be safe, secure and free in their own homeland.
This morning, accompanied by the Sabah DAP State Chairman and MP for Sandakan, Steven Wong, MP for Kota Kinabalu, Jimmy Wong and DAP
Assemblyman for Sri Tanjong, Chan Foong Hin, I visited the family of one of the five fishermen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters off Dent Haven, Lahat Datu more than four months on July 18.
All these five fishermen, Abdul Rahim Summas, 62, Tayudin Anjut 45, Mohd Ridzuan Ismail 32, Fandy Bakran 26 and Mohd Jumadil Rahim 23, are still in the hands of the Abu Syyaf group, which had demanded a ransom of RM8.5 million for the release of the five. I am shocked that up to now the authorities, whether Federal or Sabah State governments, have provided no assistance to the five victims of the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping or their families.
Such crime would be completely unheard of and unthinkable before the establishment of Malaysia in 1963.
Corruption has gone from bad in 1978 to just downright evil today, with Malaysia regarded world-wide as a “global kleptocracy” with a “MOI”, while Sabah notorious as one of the leading states guilty of state kleptocracy.
Is this what the people of Sabah bargained for when Malaysia was formed in 1963?
On 18th March 2010, during the debate on the Royal Address, I proposed in Parliament the formation of a RCI – a Royal Commission of Inquiry – on how the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in the past five decades as the country would be marking the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia in three years’ time.
My proposal for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) was ignored, and it is clear that the Barisan Nasional would never establish such a RCI.
In the circumstances, DAP would proceed to establish a RCI into whether the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed 53 years ago in 1963, but it would be a RCI with a difference.
It would not be a Royal Commission of Inquiry as only the government-of-the-day can establish such a Inquiry Commisison, but a Rakyat Commission of Inquiry (RCI) for Sabahans, regardless of race, religion, region or class to speak up on their hopes and dreams, their aspirations and disappointments as citizens of Malaysia.
The Sabah RCI will deal with the three mega-problems of illegal immigrants, crime and corruption which I warned about in 1978; the three Batu Sumpah oaths of religion, land and native customs; the 20-Points; as well as the basic concerns of Sabahans on why after five decades of formation of Malaysia and four years before Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation, many Sabahans are still deprived of the basic facilities of piped water, electricity, roads, elementary health and educational services.
Let all Sabahans and Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, politics, class or region, co-operate to make this RCI (Rakyat Commission of Inquiry) into the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans when Malaysia was formed in 1963 a success.
There was a Cobbold Commission in 1962 which conducted a survey of the people in Sabah and Sarawak to ascertain the views on the formation of Malaysia.
Let this RCI (Rakyat Commission of Inquiry) into the dreams and aspirations of the people of Sabah be a second Cobbold Commisson, visiting more places in Sabah.
The Cobbold Commission visited 15 places in Sabah in less than four weeks. May be the RCI should visit at least 30 places in Sabah to come out with a report, which should set out the agenda for Sabah for the next fifty years.
(Speech at the Tawau DAP Branch’s DAP 50th Anniversary Dinner in Tawau on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 9 pm)