Happy Malaysia Day Y'all!

Today, 47 years ago, the Federation of Malaysia was formed.

As a Sabahan, I personally think that joining forces with Singapore, Sarawak and Malaya to create one country was the right thing to do then, considering the alternatives presented at the time.

Let the Sabah flag fly!

But let's all be cognizant of the fact that before Sabah decided to join, the state government led by Tun Mustapha as Governor submitted a 20 point memorandum to the then Malayan government as prerequisites for joining the federation. The said 20-point agreement was to ensure the safeguarding of the interests, rights and autonomy of the natural resources-rich state.

Just to recap, and to educate those who are ignorant, here is the list of what was agreed upon:

Point 1: Religion

While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo

Point 2: Language

a. Malay should be the national language of the Federation
b. English should continue to be used for a period of 10 years after Malaysia Day
c. English should be an official language of North Borneo for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time.

Point 3: Constitution

Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of a free association of states and should not be a series of amendments to a Constitution drafted and agreed by different states in totally different circumstances. A new Constitution for North Borneo (Sabah) was of course essential.

Point 4: Head of Federation

The Head of State in North Borneo should not be eligible for election as Head of the Federation

Point 5: Name of Federation

“Malaysia” but not “Melayu Raya”

Point 6: Immigration

Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the Central Government but entry into North Borneo should also require the approval of the State Government. The Federal Government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into North Borneo for State Government purposes except on strictly security grounds. North Borneo should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in Federal Government employ from other parts of Malaysia into North Borneo.

Point 7: Right of Secession

There should be no right to secede from the Federation.

Point 8: Borneanisation

Borneanisation of the public service should proceed as quickly as possible.

Point 9: British Officers

Every effort should be made to encourage British Officers to remain in the public service until their places can be taken by suitably qualified people from North Borneo

Point 10: Citizenship

The recommendation in paragraph 148(k) of the Report of the Cobbold Commission should govern the citizenship rights in the Federation of North Borneo subject to the following amendments:

a) sub-paragraph (i) should not contain the proviso as to five years residence
b) in order to tie up with our law, sub-paragraph (ii)(a) should read “7 out of 10 years” instead of “8 out of 10 years”
c) sub-paragraph (iii) should not contain any restriction tied to the citizenship of parents – a person born in North Borneo after Malaysia must be federal citizen

Point 11: Tariffs and Finance

North Borneo should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff[8], and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.

Point 12: Special position of indigenous races

In principle the indigenous races of North Borneo should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present Malaya formula in this regard is not necessarily applicable in North Borneo.

Point 13: State Government

a) the Chief Minister should be elected by unofficial members of Legislative Council
b) There should be a proper Ministerial system in North Borneo[8].

Point 14: Transitional period

This should be seven years and during such period legislative power must be left with the State of North Borneo by the Constitution and not be merely delegated to the State Government by the Federal Government.

Point 15: Education

The existing educational system of North Borneo should be maintained and for this reason it should be under state control.

Point 16: Constitutional safeguards

No amendment modification or withdrawal of any special safeguard granted to North Borneo should be made by the Central Government without the positive concurrence of the Government of the State of North Borneo

The power of amending the Constitution of the State of North Borneo should belong exclusively to the people in the state.

(Note: The United Party, The Democratic Party and the Pasok Momogun Party considered that a three-fourth majority would be required in order to effect any amendment to the Federal and State Constitutions whereas the UNKO and USNO considered a two-thirds majority would be sufficient.)

Point 17: Representation in Federal Parliament

This should take account not only of the population of North Borneo but also of its size and potentialities and in any case should not be less than that of Singapore.

Point 18: Name of Head of State

Yang di-Pertua Negara.

Point 19: Name of State


Point 20: Land, Forests, Local Government, etc.

The provisions in the Constitution of the Federation in respect of the powers of the National Land Council should not apply in North Borneo. Likewise, the National Council for Local Government should not apply in North Borneo.

But as history would show us, the Sabahans were duped by the central government for years, continuing till today.

When Malaysia was formed, Sabah entered the Federation as an autonomous state but over time, this autonomy was taken away one step at a time. Today, Sabah is only receiving a fraction of the profits of its natural resources; the bulk of it are looted by the central government to enrich the peninsular-based politicians.

Where did it all go wrong?

Bapah Sabah

I'm trying to be as non-biased as I could be and as much as it hurts me to say this, the whole downgrading thing could partially be attributed to the late Tun Mustapha. Now, if you know well, who I am and my family, you'd know that I would never ever put him down. But we have to call a spade a spade, no?

Tun Mustapha was the first governor of Sabah and is the undisputed 'Bapah Sabah.' He was the governor when the Federation was formed and when the 20-points were being undertaken post-formation, he was the Chief Minister. In essence, it was during his time that transition of effecting the 20-point agreement into place.

Tun, depending on who you ask, is either a hero or the penultimate villain. To the Muslims, he was the former and to the non-Muslims, the latter. It's really that simple. He was a staunch Muslim who only wanted to ensure that the rights of the Muslims are protected in a state where majority of the inhabitants were not. And knowing how the others behaved, he did everything with the best of intentions in ensuring that the real 'orang asli' of Sabah are protected.

The late Tun doing his rounds

One of the biggest accusations his enemies hurled at him was for purportedly allowing throngs of 'illegal immigrants' from South Philippines - especially Sulu - to enter Sabah and become citizens.

Here's the thing though: how could the Suluk/Tausug people be deemed 'illegals' when the very state is owned by the Sulu Sultanate? Until today, the government of Malaysia is still 'renting' Sabah from the Sulu Sultanate. How could anyone then say that the Tausugs of Sulu, subjects of the sovereign Sulu Sultanate who are still implicitly recognized by the Federal Government by continuously paying rental, be illegals in their own State?

This is the truth that has been swept under the carpet by the enemies of Tun Mustapha. They accused him of allowing the so-called 'illegals' to enter Sabah to become phantom voters when in fact, all he did was gave the subjects of the Sulu Sultan their rights.

Simply put, if the 'immigrants' from Cambodia are given bumpiputra status, why couldn't the original subjects of Sabah, i.e. Sulu Sultanate be accorded the same? And was it wrong for Tun to do what was right in recognizing the subjects of the Sulu Sultanate?

Sri Paduka Maulana Al Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam entered into agreement with the North Borneo Company for the lease of Sabah in 1878. The Lease prohibits the transfer of Sabah to any nation, company or individual without the consent of His Majesty’s Government and hence, why the Malaysian Government is still paying rental

As a Suluk and a Sabah bumiputra, and personally speaking, Tun Mustapha's biggest mistake was allowing UMNO to replace USNO. It was his desire to helm the state again that, ironically, killed his political career. I'm not gonna get into what was promised to him in allowing UMNO to replace USNO but suffice to say, having been bitten before, he should have learnt that the peninsula-based politicians could never be trusted.

In the end, it was this decision that proved to be the ultimate death of Sabahans in Sabah politics.

In retrospect, Singapore is lucky to have been kicked out of the Federation and while Sarawak is still part of what is now Malaysia, I respect them for ensuring that UMNO never gets into the state.

Anyways, today is Malaysia Day and had it not been for the importance of the parliamentary seats Sabah and Sarawak, would today be declared a public holiday?

You don't have to be a genius to answer that one.

47 years too late but Happy Malaysia Day Y'all.


Anonymous said...

Yes..I second to that, the biggest mistake started with the replacing of USNO with UMNO, letting go of Labuan to Wilayah Persekutuan..then many more blunders thereafter. I'm not an opposition nor pro govt..I'm also not denying that the govt has done some good to the state, however the State could prosper more without the interference of the Fed. govt for a simple fact that the State is so rich of its natural resources which is now shared almost equaly to all the States in our Country.

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