Speech by Lim Kit Siang at DAP Sabah dinner gathering in Penampang on Friday, 11th March 2011:
Why Joseph Pairin not giving his support as first Huguan Siou Tun Fuad, if alive today, would have fully endorsed Sipaun’s statement that life in Sabah before Malaysia was “very pleasant and good”
I just came across the latest attack on former Suhakam Vice Chairman and former Sabah State Secretary Tan Sri Simon Sipaun for his completely innocuous and patriotic statement recently that “life in Sabah before in Malaysia was very pleasant and good”.
Earlier, two Umno Tawau divisions had lodged police reports against Sipaun for the grave crime of sedition for making such an innocuous and patriotic statement when plumbing his memories of life today, 47 years after formation of Malaysia, and before.
Umno has now escalated its campaign to demonise and criminalise Sipaun for his statement, as the Sabah UMNO Youth leader, Azman Ruslan, has intervened alleging that Sipaun’s remark was “tantamount to questioning the wisdom behind Sabah’s decision to join the formation of Malaysia”.
Nobody except the most politically jaundiced could come to such a ridiculous conclusion. There is nothing wrong for Sipaun to give his views, based on his own memories, that life in Sabah was better and more pleasant before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
No rational person would jump to the baseless conclusion that Sipaun was being unpatriotic or disloyal in opposing Sabah’s decision 47 years ago to form Malaysia or is now advocating Sabah’s secession from Malaysia.
It is the persons who make the irrational leap to such a conclusion as to make such baseless accusation to criminalise Sipaun who are really guilty of sedition, and against whom the police should take action and not against Sipaun.
The only real question at issue is whether there is any basis for Sipaun to make his statement comparing life in Sabah today and the times before formation of Malaysia.
Let us consider what Sipaun had said, viz:
“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; Datuk Dr. Jeffrey is very familiar with this, Internal Security Act, sometimes referred to as ISA or “I Simply Arrest”, 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 not 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.”
Can the above statement by Sipaun qualify as sedition?
If so, it will be the best proof that life in Sabah today is even worse than life in the state before the formation of Malaysia in 1963 – to the extent that innocuous and patriotic comparisons of life today and what it was 47 years ago could be classified as criminal and seditious!
Sipaun had made the comparison not to advocate secession or oppose Sabah’s decision on the formation of Malaysia in 1963 but to advocate change, reform and good governance in Sabah and Malaysia.
Azman alleged that Sipaun’s statement was “a blatant disrespect to the founding fathers of Malaysia”, especially to the late Tun Mohd Fuad, the first “Huguan Siou” or paramount leader of the Kadazandusun.
The Sabah Umno Youth leader cannot be more wrong.
Firstly, what Sipaun’s said represented the voice of all genuine Sabahans, and not just Kadazandusun community.
Secondly, I have no doubt that if Tun Fuad is still alive today, he would have fully endorsed Sipaun’s sentiments and embraced him as a great son of Sabah and a patriotic Malaysian.
The only question is why the present Huguan Siou Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan had not come forward to fully endorse and embrace Sipaun for his truthful, courageous and patriotic sentiments.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor