Sabah and Sarawak State Assemblies should set up a Joint Sabah-Sarawak State Assemblies Committee to Restore Sabah-Sarawak rights according to Malaysia Agreement 1963 and to demand compensation from Federal Government for half-a-century of neglect

The unanimous two-thirds majority in Parliament on Tuesday, 14th December 2021 for the passage of the 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill is historic but it is only the first step to restore to Sabah and Sarawak their rights and status fully agreed by the Malaysia Agreement in 1963

For half-a-century, the people of Sabah and Sarawak were denied their rights to full Malaysian citizenship, such as their rights to equitable financial allocations, true state autonomy especially on education and health, fair apportionment of oil funds and right to development resources were neglected.

Sabah and Sarawak joined in the corruption game and became two of the most corrupt states in the country, but their governments were allowed to abuse their immigration autonomy rights to deny West Malaysians entry for legitimate political activities, and in the process, a few became super-rich while the ordinary Sabahans and Sarawakians became very poor.

This state of affairs had gone on for half-a-century and should be rectified.

The Pakatan Harpaan government tried to rectify it with a constitutional amendment in 2019, but it failed to secure two-thirds parliamentary majority and could not become the law of the land.

The 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill secured two-thirds parliamentary approval last Tuesday, 14th December 2021, and this was why I interrupted my campaigning for the Sarawak general election and flew back to Kuala Lumpur from Sibu to support the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2021 with two-thirds parliamentary majority.

But what happened in Parliament last Tuesday was only the first step in the restoration of the lost rights of the people Sabah and Sarawak in the last half-a-century, and there is much work to be done.

I suggest that the Sabah and Sarawak State Assemblies should set up a Joint Sabah-Sarawak State Assemblies Committee to Restore Sabah-Sarawak rights according to Malaysia Agreement 1963 which should present a list of reparation actions which must be acted on by the Federal Government and to demand compensation from the Federal Government for half-a-century of neglect.

The Sabah leaders who voted in support of the 1976 Constitution Amendment Bill which downgraded Sabah and Sarawak from regions to states included Ganie Gilong and Said Keruak of Sabah and Abdul Rahman Yacob, Taib Mahmud, Ong Kee Hui, Stephen Yong, Edmund Langgu, Patrcik Uren and Luhat Wan from Sarawak.

The only opposition votes came from nine Members of Parliament from the DAP.

History has proven DAP right and the Sabah and Sarawak government leaders in 1976 wrong – but the people and Sabah and Sarawak paid a heavy price in the past half-a-century in their lost rights.

And history has gone on to prove that DAP were in the forefront to champion the rights of the peoples of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia in our vision to make Malaysia a world-class great nation.

I became the first Member of Parliament to raise the Keningau Batu Sumpah in Parliament in Marchj 2010 (47 years after Sabah formed Malaysia) and called for Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia and Batu Sumpah’s Three Pledges, namely:1. Ugama Bebas dalam Sabah; 2. Tanah dalam Sabah di kuasai oleh Kerajaan Sabah and 3. Adat istiadat anak rakyat Sabah dihormatkan dan dipelihara.

The Oath Stone was erected in front of Keningau District Office here in the 1960s, as a historical monument that served to assure the Sabahans that their rights to religious freedom, land, culture and customs were guaranteed and would continue to be protected by the Federal Government after Sabah became a part of Malaysia.

But this was not done and was neglected for half-a-century.

As a result of the historic 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill last Tuesday, many measures must be taken to restore the lost rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak in the last half-a-century.

Some writers have asked how to describe Sabah and Sarawak – whether as states, region, territories or entities.

This process must be worked out. For instance, is the Conference of Rulers affected, or whether there will be a new conference involving Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri