Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, 20th March 2010:
Sabah State Assembly when it meets next month should pass a special resolution supporting the establishment of Royal Commission of Inquiry on how the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in past five decades
The Sabah State Assembly, when it meets next month, should pass a special resolution supporting the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on how the dreams and aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed in the past five decades.
However, even before the Sabah State Assembly meets starting on April 15, I hope that the Sabah and Sarawak Barisan Nasional MPs would speak up in Parliament in the current parliamentary debate on the royal address to endorse my call in Parliament on Thursdays for such a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
2013 in three years’ time mark Sabah’s 50th anniversary in the formation of Malaysia. It is appropriate in preparing for the occasion to seriously assess whether the dreams of Sabahans and Sarawakians in 1963 to form Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed.
Have the people of Sabah been granted their full citizenship rights as Malaysians in the past five decades?
Let the debate and soul-searching begin as to how one of the richest states in Sabah had been reduced in five decades to become the poorest state in the federation.
Before Malaysia was formed in 1963, a Cobbold Commission conducted a fact-finding survey of the people of Sabah and Sarawak for their views as to whether the new nation should be established out of the federation of Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei with Malaya.
Numerous fact-finding tours were also organised at that time to send Sabah and Sarawak leaders to Malaya to see for themselves the benefits and developments Sabah and Sarawak would enjoy if they agree to the establishment of Malaysia.
It was precisely on the dual promises of the constitutional safeguards for Sabah (commonly known as the 20 Points) and Sarawak and the material and developmental rewards the two states would enjoy that the new Malaysian nation was formed in 1963.
My visit into the Sabah interior yesterday has reinforced my conviction that a Royal Commission of Inquiry on five decades of Malaysian federation is vital and paramount as there are deep-seated frustrations and dissatisfactions that the two promises of constitutional safeguards and development progress for Sabah and Sarawak had not been realised.
The purpose of such a Royal Commission of Inquiry is for the Malaysian government and people to ascertain and to remedy and rectify the frustrations and disappointments of Sabahans and Sarawakians over the dual promises on the formation of Malaysia some 50 years ago.
Yesterday, together with DAP MPs Hiew King Cheu (Kota Kinabalu), Teo Nie Ching (Serdang) and Lim Lip Eng (Segambut), and DAP Sabah State Assemblyman for Sri Tanjong Jimmy Wong, I visited Keningau and saw for ourselves the historic “Batu Sumpah” at the Keningau District Office, bearing the words:
“BATU SUMPAH MENGIKUT PERLEMBAGAAN
Sebalik pula rayat2 Sabah di dalam interior bersumpah taat setia kepada Kerajaan Malaysia.”
These were the terms of the oath of loyalty of the Sabahans from the interior five decades ago in exchange for the formation of Malaysia. Have these solemn pledges laid out in the Keningau Batu Sumpah been honoured by both sides?
I asked the Sabahans in Keningau and they were distressed that the Malaysian Government had not honoured the terms of the Batu Sumpah.
This is what a Royal Commission of Inquiry on five decades of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia should probe into – the extent of fulfillment and shortfalls of the constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak on the formation of Malaysia.
Even on the other promise of material development, it is clear that the material and infrastructural development and progress of the ordinary people of Sabah and Sarawak had fallen far short of expectations.
The DAP team visited Kg Tuarid Liawan which is only 1.5 km from Keningau and we found extreme poverty and shocking infrastructure backwardness.
In Kg Batu Biah about 8 km from Keningau, there are water pipes for 15 years but with no water supply.
In Tambunan, we saw a road in good condition but which was dugged out last year and remade – the equivalent of pork barrel politics of funds being given to build a bridge where there is no river! I understand the digging of a good road just to rebuild it cost some RM150,000. It would be better to spend this money be giving cash payout of RM10 for every voter in Tambunan and allow some cronies to benefit from such political largesses for “building a bridge when there is no river”.
In fact, Sabah probably leads the country as the state with the most pipes without water and most electric lines without power.
The people of Sabah and Sarawak were promised progress and development, at least to the level achieved by the Peninsular states.
Have these promises to Sabah and Sarawak been fulfilled in the past five decades? The answers must be a loud No.
Where have all the wealth of Sabah and Sarawak gone to in the past five decades?
After nearly five decades, many in Sabah and Sarawak even lack the most basic infrastructures to be found in the rest of Malaysia like regular electricity supply, uninterrupted piped water and good roads and bridges – and not bridges when there is no river!
This year, the people of Tawau celebrated Chinese New Year’s Eve in darkness because of power blackout – not a rare occurrence but a regular ordeal to the people of Tawau, Sandakan, Lahat Datuk and most parts of Sabah.
The people of Sabah are entitled to ask why with Sabah’s immense wealth, they cannot enjoy the basic infrastructures that are taken for granted in other states – why, for instance, Sabahans must suffer constant power black-outs which are unheard of in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Alor Star, Ipoh, Seremban, Malacca, Johore Bahru, Kuantan, Kota Bahru, Kuala Terengganu – even in Kuching, Sibu, Miri?
A Royal Commission of Inquiry on five decades of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia will put all these shortfalls and failures of the dual promises of constitutional safeguards and development progress in proper perspective and in the forefront of the national agenda.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor