By Anne de Bretagne
29 May 2012
I have always held the view that Peninsular Malaysia's continuing annexation of Sabah is constitutionally wrong even by 1963 Malaysia Federation constitution standard.
For starters, Malaysia's treatment of its historical facts has always been, to my mind, filled with a lot of half-truths. Malaysians continue to deceive their own people by teaching their children that Malaysia (not Malaya) gained independence from the British in 1957 which is an utter lie.
Malaysia was born on 16 September 1963. So how could a nation which was not even born gain independence? How could Malaysia say that they gained their independence from the British when the British had technically not ruled the Peninsula since 1957? Lies have always been the basis of existence of Peninsular Malaysia.
First off, Sabah which was a separate entity that was under direct British colonial control received independence from their British colonialists on 31st August 1963 and for FIFTEEN DAYS was technically truly INDEPENDENT. However on 16 September 1963, it was annexed to a new political entity whose new constitution was not even formally framed yet: the new MALAYSIA Federation.
Second, the referendum was a sham! During the fifteen days when Sabah was supposed to be technically independent of their British colonizers, we were, and are still being made to believe that the idea of a 1963 referendum to determine if Sabahans agree for their infant nation to join a new Malaysia Federation that was in the making was presented to the people of Sabah, that debates on the referendum were organised, that colloques were held, that political discussions across massive Sabah and among Sabahans took place, that voting was held, that counting was done, and that finally, that it was determined that Sabahans indeed decided, etc., and that all of these activities that would decide the fate of an infant so-called independent nation took place in a matter of fifteen days!!!! Bollocks!
We all know that Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malayan who was leading the Malayans at the time distributed a few leaflets about the referendum, talked to a few Sabahan leaders, promised them a lot of good things and then instructed them to do things to ensure that the referendum would be for an "Aye!" vote.
"The response from Sabah and Sarawak was not on par with that from Singapore and the initial response from Brunei, since both territories feared losing authority in the administration of their governments. Apart from this, the non-Malays feared that the Malays in Sabah and Sarawak would be even more dominant should the merger take place. To allay their fears, Tunku Abdul Rahman went to these territories in June 1961 and set up the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) to inform the people of the benefits of the merger." (Federation of Malaysia pdf document)"
The group that was was tasked with overseeing that the people of Sabah supported the proposal for Sabah to become a federated member of the new Malaysia Federation was the Cobbold Commission which was also "responsible for the subsequent drafting of the Constitution of Malaysia prior to the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963."
Members of the Commission were:
- Lord Cobbold, former Governor of the Bank of England, chairman of the Commission
- Wong Pow Nee, Chief Minister of Penang,
- Mohammed Ghazali Shafie, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Anthony Abell, former Governor of Sarawak
- David Watherston, former Chief Secretary of Malaya.
Notice anything? NO SABAHAN member of the Commission!!!
What is surprising is that the Cobbold Commission report did not specifically address the concerns of the people but instead reported on generalities that tended to address the Malaya desiderata! Many Sabahans later on insisted that they had not even been allowed to vote. It is believed that many Sabahans, given the prevailing conditions for travelling at the time, hence communication lines were hardly available, were not even aware that a referendum to decide on their fate was being organised.
Here's a Wiki entry on the Commission's report http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Borneo_dispute :
The Commission found that 'About one third of the population of each territory [i.e. of North Borneo and of Sarawak] strongly favours early realisation of Malaysia without too much concern over terms and conditions. Another third, many of them favourable to the Malaysia project, ask, with varying degrees of emphasis, for conditions and safeguards... The remaining third is divided between those who insist upon independence before Malaysia is considered and those who would strongly prefer to see British rule continue for some years to come' .
Thirdly, it's all about the new federation's Constitution, stupid! Alright... so let's say the Sabah referendum took place and let's further say that the results favoured joining a new political entity called the new Malaysia Federation. Let's accept that Sabah finally joined the new entity and that by virtue of Sabah's joining old Malaya, along with Sarawak and Singapore, the new Malaysia Federation was born on 16 September 1963 (instead of 31 August 1963 because Indonesia was protesting the inclusion of Sarawak.)
The problem with the new federation is that it was being created on the basis of the Constitution of the OLD Federation of Malaya States (federation of Malaya sultanates) which was still in vigour. This is so because technically, a Constitution for the New Malaysia Federation was not yet finished although mind you it was being rushed by the Cobbold Commission. So there was a hiccup. But never mind, let's accept that they rushed the inking of the new Constitution (as opposed to the old 1957 Malaya federation constitution involving only the Malaya states/sultanates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Malaysia); it was finally drafted and contained a clear provision that named all the new members namely, old [federation of] Malaya states, Sarawak, Singapore and Sabah.
The Birth of Malaysia: On 9 July 1963, the Governments of the Federation of Malaya, United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore signed the Malaysia Agreement 175 whereby Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo would federate with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya and the new federation so established would be calledMalaysia. The Federal Parliament then passed the Malaysia Act176 to amend Art. 1(1) and (2) of the Federal Constitution to provide, inter alia, for the admission of the three new States and for the renaming of the Federation as Malaysia. The Act received the Royal assent on 26 August and was to come into force on 16 September1963
The proviso in the new Malaysia Constitution left no room for doubt that the new Federation of Malaysia held on the basis of the union of FOUR independent states namely MALAYA (old Malaya Union or old federation of Malaya states/sultanates), SARAWAK, SINGAPORE, and SABAH.
But Singapore's chief minister Lee Kuan Yew was not happy with the status quo. He opposed the federal policies of affirmative action, which granted special privileges to Malays guaranteed under Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Republic_of_Singapore). On 9th August 1965, after racial riots, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman expelled Singapore from the new Malaysia federation.
Therefore when Singapore exited on 9th August 1965 from the newly formed "Malaysia Federation" whose newly framed Constitution specified that the Federation held based on the provision that the new Malaysia Federation held if all 4 states were together, Singapore's act rendered the existence of the new federation null and void.
In this context, it is only common sense that the continuing annexation of Sabah to a federation that does not constitutionally hold even by the new Malaysia Federation standard cannot be legal. In essence, the continuing annexation of Sabah by today's Peninsular Malaysia is not only illegal, it is also morally wrong.
So why is Malaysia continuing to illegally annex Sabah? If Malaysia wants to legalise their hold on Sabah, it is only fair that a new referendum to ask the people of Sabah must be held. But Malaysia cannot continue to use underhanded tactics, and make the world think that their fantasmagorical historical fantasies are real!