KOTA KINABALU: The State Reform Party (STAR) is stunned by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s claim that Sabah’s rights and autonomy have not been usurped by the federal government and that they remain intact.
The party’s Sabah chapter chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan, said the prime minister was either ignorant or being crafty by claiming Sabah’s rights had not been diminished in any way after the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
“How can the prime minister say that Sabah’s rights have not been taken away when it is very clear that from its position as an equal partner with Malaya in 1963, Sabah is now downgraded to become the 12th state and its Umno-BN state leaders are subservient to Umno-KL leaders?” asked Jeffrey.
He said that it was the manoeuvring of peninsula-based Umno and federal leaders that had resulted in Sabah being made a de facto colony of Malaya and Umno-BN leaders treating Sabah as their “fixed deposit” and treating Sabahans with disrespect.
Sabahans, he said, lost their political independence and rights when Umno manoeuvred itself into Sabah and misguided Usno (United Sabah National Organisation) into handing over power to its proxies and stooges.
“Sabahans further lost their rights to determine their own future through the evil ‘Project IC’ during [former premier] Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration which also resulted in illegal immigrants being given ICs and voting rights.
“The reverse ethnic cleansing through these illegal immigrants has affected true Sabahans in every aspect and yet the federal government has been dragging its feet on the RCI [Royal Commission of Inquiry].
“To top it all, under Umno-BN’s rule, Sabah is now the poorest state in Malaysia which accounts for 40% of all the poor in Malaysia,” he said, adding that the federal government had also taken over all revenue collection in the state.
“What is RM32 million for schools and RM132 million for infrastructures for Sabah when Sabah contributes about RM15 billion oil revenue annually to Petronas and for 2011, the federal government collected about RM22.7 billion in federal taxes and revenue from Sabah excluding other collections?
“The Immigration Department alone collected about RM200 million from Sabah for 2011. The federal government took away the right of the Sabah state [government] to collect its own revenue when Point 11 of the 20-Point Agreement was not implemented.
“Point 11 reads: ‘Sabah [North Borneo] should have control of its own finance, development funds and tariffs’,” he said.
Borneonise civil service
According to him, the revenue from Sabah’s oil and gas has been unfairly taken from Sabah when the prime minister’s father, Abdul Razak Hussein, in 1975 signed an order granting ownership of Sabah’s oil and gas resources to Petronas.
“If the prime minister means what he says, he should immediately rescind the vesting order and hand back the oil and gas resources to Sabah.
“Since 1975, Sabah’s oil revenue has been channelled to Malaya via Petronas to develop the Malayan states at the expense of Sabah.
“Recently, this was acknowledged by Najib himself in Sarawak that for 49 years, Sabah and Sarawak had contributed their revenues towards the development of Malaya,” he said.
According to Jeffrey, who gained a doctorate at the prestigious Harvard University, it was also well known and agreed at the outset of the formation of Malaysia in 1963 that “Borneonisation” of the Sabah civil service would take place immediately, but this was not honoured and civil servants from the peninsula, some not even experienced or qualified for the job, took over senior posts in government after the British left.
He said that even now, after 49 years, it was clear that the federal government had become the new colonial master and taken over almost all the key positions in the federal civil service in Sabah.
“The problem is compounded by the duplicating roles of federal agencies in Sabah to the extent that they usurped the roles of Sabah agencies. These federal agencies have even deemed it appropriate to import their staff, even junior staff, from the peninsula and marginalised Sabahans.
“It is all part of a devious scheme to control and make Sabah a colony of Malaya and Umno,” he said.
Manipulations by Mahathir
Jeffrey argued that the situation became worse for Sabah from 1965 when Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia.
The federal government, he said, through various schemes, manipulated the situation to secure 75% control of the federal Parliament when it was agreed in 1963 that Malaya would not have more than 65% of the parliamentary seats as a constitutional safeguard for Sabah and Sarawak.
The realignment of power in 1965 allowed the Umno federal government to make Sabah the 12th state in the nation and subservient to Malaya, he added.
“Even during Usno’s early days, Umno sent its advisers; it could not be said that whatever Usno did was purely its own doing.
“During Berjaya’s tenure, Sabah lost Labuan and its oil revenue. The then chief minister [Harris Salleh] seemed more interested in trying to please the federal government so as to achieve the political ambition of overthrowing Mustapha [Harun].
“During the PBS era, Mahathir showed his dictatorial side in sidelining the PBS government which was democratically elected by the people and even stopped Pairin [Kitingan] from being sworn in as the legitimate chief minister.
“Mahathir also induced the jumping of PBS elected representatives that caused the downfall of the PBS government and used his dictatorial powers to put his opponents in jail under the draconian ISA,” said Jeffrey, the younger brother of current deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin.
He reminded Najib that the rotation system of the chief minister was then introduced against the Sabah constitution to induce and later trap the other BN leaders while, at the same time, gerrymandering the electoral boundaries to create additional seats for Umno and make it the single largest Barisan Nasional coalition component with 32 out of 60 seats.
“With the Project IC then at its height, the takeover of Sabah by the federal Umno government was complete.
“Why is the prime minister turning a blind eye to these testimonies of loss of Sabah’s rights?” he asked.
No religious freedom
Jeffrey also touched on the loss of religious freedom in Sabah.
Jeffrey, who was jailed under the Internal Security Act (ISA) during Mahathir’s time for speaking up on Sabah’s rights, also reminded Najib and Umno that freedom of religion was guaranteed by Point No 1 of the 20-Point Agreement as well as the Batu Sumpah (Oath Stone) in Keningau.
“The fact that Sabahans today no longer enjoy freedom of religion clearly suggests that they have been robbed of this right.
“In addition, there is a steady creeping in of the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ policy where new imported Malays are accorded better rights than the original indigenous natives, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.
Jeffrey also said that if Najib is correct in his claim that Sabah had received development and progress similar to its counterparts in Malaya, then surely Sabah would be one of the richest states in Malaysia, if not the richest.
“If the prime ministere had only opened his eyes to his surroundings when officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Native Court Training Institute building and the opening of the bridge at Padang Pagansakan in Penampang, he would notice that the development of the surrounding areas including roads, bridges and other infrastructure is not on par with the peninsular states.
“And that is only 10 miles from Kota Kinabalu city centre. He should then imagine how much below par is the development status in the other areas, especially in the interiors like far-flung Pensiangan,” he said.
“Or better still, he should travel by road instead of helicopter to see for himself the status of development in Sabah,” Jeffrey added, taking a swipe at Najib for travelling around the state by air.
Malaysia is not 55
Touching on the federal stand that Malaysia is 55 years old, Jeffrey said by insisting Malaysia is 55 years old now and not 49, the federal government is propagating the worst lie to the people of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole.
“What is the motive of the Umno federal government in manipulating the facts of history? The prime minister should restore Sabah’s rights and not lie anymore.
“He should learn how to view Malaysia and the federal government from the perspective of Sabahans and not just from the top as an Umno leader with a Malayan Agenda,” he said.
“Sabah has lost a lot since agreeing to form Malaysia in 1963 and suffered a great deal due to the manipulations and policies of the Umno federal government in the name of national integration; the federal government of Malaya has ruled the state in the guise of the federal government of Malaysia.
“There was never a genuine partnership for Sabah in Malaysia.
“The federal government has disrespected the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the autonomy and rights of Sabah. After 49 years of an unequal partnership and treatment, Sabahans are now clamouring for the restoration of their rights and autonomy,” Jeffrey said, adding that the prime minister and the federal government should stop treating Sabahans as fools.
Taking a swipe at Najib’s Budget 2013, he said it was nothing to shout about for Sabahans. “Sabahans deserve more than 1Malaysia water tanks and BRIMs.
“What the prime minister can and should do, if he truly wants to make a difference… is to restore the rights and autonomy of Sabah and the status of Sabah as an equal partner to Malaya… and to treat Sabahans with respect and dignity,” he said