KOTA KINABALU: Sabah veteran politician Karim Ghani has admonished the state Barisan Nasional government for acquiescing to the notion that the state is merely one of 13 in the federation and not one of the three components in Malaysia.
“We are actually a federation composed of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya. It is not Sabah, Sarawak, Perlis, Kelantan and so on. This must be put correct,” the prominent Sabah Umno member said yesterday.
“It is incumbent upon the leaders in Sabah to say that this is our position,” he said in an interview.
“I suggest someone either the state government of Sabah or the opposition bring this to the assembly and reaffirm our position as we see it … that we are one of the three components of the Federation of Malaysia, not one of the 13 states,” he said.
Explaining his stand on a recent government-sponsored talk by a law professor who said that Sabah and Sarawak could not claim that Malaysia was a partnership of three equal members, Karim said it was crucial for state leaders to rebut this contention.
He said that this was because the professor was reflecting the view of the federal government, as he was in the state on the government’s invitation.
Ranjit Singh, of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s College of Law, Government and International Studies, made the startling claim in his working paper titled ‘Sabah Politics and Policy and Federal-State Relations 1963-1995’, last month.
Politicians and leaders of all stripes have been pouncing on the the controversial contention that downplays Sabah’s and Sarawak’s importance in the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Karim said the contention is important because “it involves the root of the formation of Malaysia.
“It is beyond the question of autonomy because when Tunku Abdul Rahman (the then Prime Minister of Malaya) invited Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei to join Malaya to form Malaysia, it was agreed that they would have equal rights and be equal components with equal status.
“The reason, as what Tunku Abdul Rahman said then, was that one, we are colonised, second, we are poor, three, we are undeveloped…meaning by forming Malaysia we will be free from colonisation, we will be rich like Malaya, and we will be developed like Malaya.
“Unfortunately, after 46 years of independence, Sabah did not become rich like Malaya but instead became one of the poorest in Malaysia…the same can be said with the development aspect.
A different master now
Stating that Sabah had actually remained a colony albeit under a different master he said: “The basis of a free nation is that the leader is appointed by the people. In our case our leader is appointed by Kuala Lumpur.
“Before 1961, our leader in Sabah was Sir William Good but he was appointed by London. So nothing has changed.
“When we talk about equal component and equal share we must remember that when Tunku Abdul Rahman invited us there were five separate entities and thus equal share meant each nation would enjoy a 20 percent share of the nation’s wealth.
“When Brunei pulled out there were left four entities, so the share become 25 percent each for the remaining four. Then when Singapore was kicked out there were three left and thus each should have enjoy 33.3 percent share of teh nation’s wealth.
“But if we are only one of the 13 states our share is only 7.3 percent so who took away or stole the rest of 26 percent (of the wealth) which supposed to belong to Sabah.
“That is why the question whether we are one of the 13 states or one of the three components in Malaysia means so much.
“If Tunku Abdul Rahman had said you (Sabah) become one of the 13 states, like Sabah is equal to Perlis, I don’t think the Sabah and Sarawak leaders would have been so stupid to accept the invitation (to form Malaysia).
“I think the professor (Ranjit) was trying to justify the 1Malaysia concept when he presented the paper. The 1Malaysia concept means the position of Sabah is no longer there, because everyone is equal.
“So don’t be surprised if you see the heads of federal government departments and agencies are from the Peninsular because you cannot ask any question anymore because of 1Malaysia.
“And it is the same when those people from the peninsular come to Sabah to take our business and land under the 1Malaysia concept.
“But this is not what Malaysia is. Malaysia, like Australia, is a federation composed of three components Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya Federation.”
Agreement is void now
Karim also is of the opinion that when Singapore pulled out from Malaysia the Malaysia Agreement became null and void
“I believe that was when the changes were made (that resulted in Sabah and Sarawak becoming part of the 13 states).
“Probably they quietly changed the status of Sabah and Sarawak. When they brought it to the parliament our MPs who did not know about it and just raised their hands in agreement.
“So this is the position of Malaysia,” he remarked sardonically.