Thursday, May 23

‘Amendment to Article 1(2) Federal Constitution a trap from the federal government’

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Voon Lee Shan

LIKE boxing, before coming into the boxing ring, rules must be set and the rules must be clear. The calling by the federal government to the negotiation table to thresh out matters in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), which has now led to the proposed amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, was a trap set by the federal government.

The trap was to get Sabah and Sarawak to come to the negotiating table to agree that Article 1(2) should be amended to give equal status to Sabah and Sarawak equal to Malaya. In the proposed amendment, it will be mentioned that Sabah and Sarawak shall be territories of the Federation of Malaysia.

Before going to the negotiating table, the governments of Sabah and Sarawak, together with the federal government should thresh out some preliminary issues that led to Malaysia. That is, first, whether the decolonisation process of Sabah and Sarawak under Resolutions 1514 and 1541 of the United Nations had begun and completed. This Resolution 1514 of the United Nations, which was adopted in the United Nations General Assembly on Dec 14, 1960 is a resolution that provides for the granting of independence to colonial countries and people from their colonial masters. This Resolution 1514 together with Resolution 1541 have not been repealed and are still valid for all purposes concerning the decolonisation of colonies in the world.

Sabah and Sarawak at one time were countries colonised by the British and the British government has a political obligation to see that both Sabah and Sarawak, should, guided by United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541, gain independence.

If the decolonisation process had been completed, then, the parties need to determine whether MA63 is valid or otherwise.

To divert a bit from this issue, the public may need to know that it was this MA63 Treaty that led Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to be acquired from the British Empire. This led to enlarge the territory of the Federation of Malaya on Sept 16, 1963. The enlarged Federation of Malaya continues its United Nations membership under its new name of Malaysia after a letter to this effect was sent to the United Nations by Datuk Ong Yoke Lin, the Permanent Secretary from the Federation of Malaya to the United Nations. Therefore, Malaya is known as Malaysia and Malaysia is known as Malaya because according to the legal minds of the United Nations, the acquisition of new territories by the Federation of Malaya does not destroy the international personality or legal identity of Malaya after acquiring these territories. The legal opinion of the United Nations also states that, “Neither does a change in name or a change in the Constitution affect the international personality or legal identity of a State in international law.”

If the MA63 is not valid, then, the governments of Sabah and Sarawak have to force the federal government to come out with a joint declaration that the Federation of Malaysia should disintegrate with further negotiations whether a new regional political entity should be formed.

Now, the matter is before Parliament to make Sabah and Sarawak as “territories” in Malaysia. What is meant by “territories” or “territory”? It is clear that a territory is a country or a region that is controlled by another country. If “territory” is used in the proposed Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, this will put Sabah and Sarawak as “colonies” of Malaya.

To make Sabah and Sarawak as “territories” in the Federation of Malaysia seems is a stand taken by the federal government that these two countries are indeed “colonies” of Malaya. To be perceived as “colonies” is not acceptable to Sabahans and Sarawakians at the moment. There can be no equal partnership if Sabah and Sarawak are “colonies” of Malaya and this concept of “equal partnership” will always be an illusion.

Therefore, the public should not agree or fall into the trap to say that the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to make Sabah and Sarawak equal partners would restore or give back our rightful positions in Malaysia. The amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution alone cannot restore or give back rights and privileges that belonged to Sabah and Sarawak.

Many at the moment are of the opinion that Sarawak is a “colony” and there is no equal partnership for Sarawak in Malaysia.

Tunku Abdul Rahman admitted in the book ‘Conversations With Tunku Abdul Rahman’ by Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad on page 89 to the effect that Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak were a gift from the British to Malaya. Does not the admission by Tunku Abdul Rahman imply that Sabah and Sarawak are colonies of Malaya?

If the federal government is sincere to make Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya, then, all 222 parliamentary seats have to be divided equally with Sabah and Sarawak. At the same time, all political parties from Malaya have to be withdrawn from the soil of Sabah and Sarawak because their presence is construed as interference with the dignity and sovereignty of Sabah and Sarawak as countries of the federation.

Article 47 of the Federal Constitution, which allows people from Malaya to contest parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak should be amended accordingly. By political parties from Malaya setting foot in Sabah and Sarawak and by allowing Malayans to contest in parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak, is seen as an imperialism strategy by Malaya to control the administration and resources of Sabah and Sarawak.

All revenues should by right go into the coffers of the Sarawak government first before the balance after deductions made of Sarawak’s share of the revenue, goes to the federal government. But this was not done. Taking the revenues before giving back part of the revenues to Sabah and Sarawak has always made the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak unhappy with the federal government.

At the moment, it is said that from oil and gas alone, the revenues that go to federal coffers from Sarawak is about half a billion ringgit per day and yet there has been little funding coming from the federal government for past decades to develop Sarawak. In 2017, it was said Sarawak generated a revenue of RM110 billion, yet, in its maiden budget, the Pakatan Harapan government only gave Sarawak RM4 billion.