THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

> Jeffrey: Time to recognise Sabah, S'wak as equal partners

by Leong Sai Ho

Jeffrey Kitingan says this is the right time for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to recognize the equal partnership and status of Sabah and Sarawak and correct the deviation from the original concept of Malaysia.

“This year is the most appropriate year for the government to declare Sept. 16 as national public holiday, if they are really serious about 1Malaysia,” he told the Malaysian Mirror in an exclusive interview here.

He says this is also a favourable time to recall the contributions of our leaders in the formation of Malaysia and hold seminars, symposiums and exhibitions on the history of Malaysia’s formation.

“The true history, not the manipulated history,” he stresses, adding that such activities should be organised and held nation-wide.

“In this way,” he explains, “We can talk about Malaysia through the exhibitions to all Malaysians, especially the young who could get to know and appreciate the concept of a true Malaysian federation.”

Restore special rights

Jeffrey, a younger brother of Joseph Pairin Kitingan, president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and a deputy chief minister in the state Cabinet, believes this is an appropriate time for the prime minister to recognise the equal partnership and status of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Our prime minister could do so by restoring the special rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak to differentiate them from other states in the peninsula. Now we have been down graded.

“If he can do this, he will be recognised as a prime minister who restored dignity to the people of Sabah and Sarawak and complied with the true spirit of the Malaysia Agreement,” he exhorts.

That, he adds, would be a great gift to the founding fathers from the two states and to the future generations of Malaysians.

Touching further on the significance of Malaysia Day celebrated on Sept 16, the day in 1963 when the Malaysian Federation was formed with Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya as partners in nationhood.

“It should be a national day, a public holiday. When we talk about 1Malaysia, what is it if not Malaysia?

“We should accord due importance and acceptance to it as Malaysia Day, the day we became one nation, a day when Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya came together.”

No relations to Aug 31

He says that if we want to celebrate on Aug. 31, then it should be celebrated as Independence Day separately for the Malayan states there.

“Their independence year was 1957 and ours is 1963. So we cannot use 1957 as the basis for National Day celebration, since Sabah and Sarawak have no relations to it.”

Jeffrey asserts, “If you insist in doing that, you are saying there is no Malaysia, only Malaya. That would mean that Sabah and Sarawak are just an appendix or colony.”

It seemed to him that no one at the federal level is listening to this issue. At the same time, he feels that Sabah and Sarawak leaders (in the government) have no determination to pursue the matter, get the necessary attention and get this issue resolved.

“So, this renders meaningless the BN concept of cooperation and power sharing. I am glad to see that the Pakatan Rakyat government has started recognizing Sept 16 as a significant date for national union by having that day declared as a public holiday.”

He said this has been done in some states (that are under the control of PR) like Penang and Selangor.

Jeffrey’s sentiments on Malaysia Day have been echoed by other leaders in Sabah. Among them is Eric Majimbun, Member of Parliament for Sepanggar, and a deputy president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

He told the Malaysian Mirror in a separate interview that Sept 16 should be officially recognised by the government and is also calling for it to be declared a national public holiday.

“By doing so our young Malaysians would know that Malaysia was formed by four nations, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya. This means we are not one of 13 states in Malaysia. We are equal partners of the three components of the federation.

“Our young ones think that we are just one of the 13 states in Malaysia because they regard Aug. 31 1957 as Merdeka, five years of difference,”

Majimbun says that in terms of development, this is also the yardstick we look at.

“So, development is also different. We are far behind in development, especially in infrastructure and in agriculture. We may think we are at par with the other states in plantations, but they are all from outside and not locals. This is the problem we face.”

In the case of Sabah, Sept 16 is a public holiday by virtue of the fact that it is a day on which the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Head of State) celebrates his official birthday.

'Malaysia Day Countdown'

Meanwhile, the United Sabah Dusun Association (Usda) has organised a “Malaysia Day Countdown” at Padang Selupuh in Tuaran beginning at 8pm on Sept. 15.

Its president, Kalakau Untol, has called on Sabahans “who envisage changes in politics and the system of governance” to attend the function.

“This is an opportunity not to be missed, especially the younger generation to know events of history that brought about Sabah’s involvement in the formation of Malaysia and also the consequences of being in the Federation since Sept 16, 1963.”

He says among leaders invited to speak at that function are: MP for Tuaran, Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, who is also deputy president of Upko; Dr Jeffrey Kitingan; former senator Karim Ghani from Umno Sabah; and Haji Ansari Abdullah, another leader from PKR Sabah.

Kalakau said in his statement announcing the event that the people of Sabah, especially the younger generation, “must not forget” that Sabah together with Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya formed a new federation called Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

Singapore, however, pulled out in August 1965 - Malaysian Mirror.