Sapa chief says his piece on status of Sabah, Sarawak in MA63

KUCHING: The president of Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspirations (Sapa), Dominique Ng, yesterday commented on what he described as the ‘current confusion over the status of Sabah and Sarawak’ between the Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak.

Ng said the statement that was allegedly and originally ascribed to Shafie Apdal was that the latter had at the meeting with the Prime Minister brought up ‘the status of Sabah and Sarawak as one territory’, about the restoring of such a status, and that it had been stipulated in the MA63.

Dominique Ng

Pursuant to that, Masing had expressed a differing opinion – that Sabah and Sarawak are two territories, not one.

“Today we read of a fellow MA63 activist and champion Zainnal Ajamain coming to the defence of Shafie, and claiming that Masing was incorrect in saying that Sarawak and Sabah were two separate regions in the Federation of Malaysia!

“Zainnal Ajamain was referring to the MA63 and Annex A Part II Section 1(3) thereof and that it was stated therein that both Borneo states are a territory, and that it was a misconception on the part of Masing about the word ‘territories’ therein,” said Ng.

Ng, who is also an advocate and solicitor practising in Sarawak, said that when he looked up the section quoted, what he could only find was an Annex A Part II Clause 4(3) which was relevant [and not section 1(3)] and which also referred to a clause 4(2).

For the sake of clarity, Ng then reproduced the whole section, which reads as follows:

4. (1) the Federation shall be known, in Malay and in English, by the name Malaysia. (2) The States of the Federation shall be – (a) the States of Malaya, namely Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu; and (b) the Borneo States, namely Sabah and Sarawak; and (c) the State of Singapore (3)The territories of each of the States mentioned in Clause (2) are the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day.

Ng stressed that nowhere in the said clauses was there any reference which can be construed as making Sabah and Sarawak a single territory, no doubt they were referred together as ‘the Borneo States’ in Clause 2(b).

However, he said that it was very clearly stated in Clause (3) that Sabah and Sarawak [and also Singapore for that matter] were two separate territories as they were ‘the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day’.

Ng emphasised that MA63 and the prime documents related to the formation of Malaysia are very clear about Sabah and Sarawak being territories which came together with the territories of Malaya and Singapore to form Malaysia.

Ng sounded a warning, in that the current and very petty argument seemingly between Sabah and Sarawak over the meaning of ‘territories’, of whether we are one or two territories, we may be missing the wood for the trees!

“Indeed the definition of the word ‘territory’ usually denotes ‘a geographical area that has been acquired by a particular country but has not been recognised as a full participant in that country’s affairs’. In plain simple English, colonies!

“And by that definition the word of which has been included in the said Annex A of MA63, could it be argued that Sabah and Sarawak have become, and by default, are still colonies of Malaya? Or more correctly, colonies of the Federation of Malaya?

“Because the behaviour of the Federal Government so far since those far away Malaysia Formation days of 1963 has always been one of a colonial master over its colonies of Sarawak and Sabah, acquired as a result of MA63,” he said.

Ng reminded all the squabbling parties that September 16, the day Malaysia was formed or otherwise known as Malaysia Day, was totally ignored and relegated to the rubbish bins of history for decades until a decade-long campaign led by some people including he himself managed to have it restored officially and accorded a public holiday status, only in 2013.

Ng also proposed that it would be more profitable for Sarawakians and Sabahans to employ “our collective time to deciding whether MA63 is still valid, or whether it was void ab initio, or voidable as a result of the numerous breaches thereof.

“And if so, why are we still squabbling over the tidbits thrown out by Malaya and where we have to scramble over in our haste to fight over them?” he asked.

Ng is leading a team that has expressed its intention to sue the Federal Government over MA63.

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