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Speech (2) by Lim Kit Siang in the Royal Address debate on Wednesday, 16th March 2011: 

Call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by Simon Sipaun to inquire into expectations, hopes and dreams of Sabahans and Sarawakians half a century after formation of Malaysia

I was in Sabah last week and I was surprised that the former Suhakam Vice Chairman and former Sabah State Secretary Tan Sri Simon Sipaun had been the target of attacks by Sabah for his recent statement that “life in Sabah before in Malaysia was very pleasant and good”.

This is what Sipaun had said recently:

“Life in Sabah, in those days called North Borneo, as I remember it, before Malaysia, was very pleasant and good, to say the least. Admittedly there was no development that we see today, but even Malaya at that time was no better. There was no racial problem, mixed marriages were very common, and that is why we have so many peranakan in Sabah. If Sabahans are now conscious of racial and religious divide, it has been imported from semananjung. There was no illegal immigrant, there were no cases of Sabahans losing citizenship status while foreigners get it without much difficulty. There were no repressive and draconian laws, such as Official Secrets Act; … the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Seditious Act, the Police Act, and the four Proclamations of Emergency; we are still under emergency as of today even though the conditions for having emergency proclamation is no longer there. There was no quarrelling over dead bodies, the composition, and I spent three years of my career in the civil service before Malaysia, the composition in those days of the civil service was reflective of the racial makeup of society. It was multi-racial, meritocracy was practised. Corruption and ketuanan Melyau, we never heard of it. And the thing continues. How not to miss Sabah before Malaysia.”

I believe that the majority of genuine Sabahans would agree with the sentiments expressed by Sipaun when comparing life and expectations of the people of Sabah today as compared to before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

But two Umno Tawau divisions had lodged police reports against Sipaun for the grave crime of sedition and the Sabah UMNO Youth has also stepped in in virtually accusing Siapun of being disloyal and unpatriotic in alleging that Sipaun’s remark was “tantamount to questioning the wisdom behind Sabah’s decision to join the formation of Malaysia”.

This is an example of the unhealthy and divisive political culture which have surfaced in the past two years – trying to criminalize Sipaun comments made out of loyalty and love of Sabah and Malaysia by lodging police reports of sedition against him and even implying that the former Sabah State Secretary was disloyal.

Sipaun had also said:

“During the last general elections, it was the voters of Sabah and Sarawak who saved the federal government from losing power so much so that now Sarawak, Sabah is now referred to as the fixed deposits. Personally, I find this term derogatory and insulting.

“In return for all these, what Sabah and Sarawk get. They continue to get short changed and getting a raw deal….

“I think the general belief is that if they government is unwilling to act for whatever reason, then a change of government is obviously desirable.”

I believe that all Sabah MPs agree with Sipaun’s sentiment and comparison of life in Sabah today as compared to half a century ago and I call on them to give full support to Sipaun.

I want to reiterate my call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into expectations, hopes and dreams of Sabahans and Sarawakians half a century after formation of Malaysia, why they have not been fulfilled although both are very rich states, and there is no better person to head such a Royal Commission of Inquiry than Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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