An open memorandum to State govt: Consult Sarawakians for Referendum on Sarawak Independence

The sea of yellow flags is a reflection of rising Sarawakism.

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KUCHING, Sept 17: Sarawak Association of Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA) and Sabah Sarawak Rights Australia New Zealand (SSRANZ) have put out an open memorandum, calling on the Sarawak government to consult Sarawakians on the terms to open negotiations with the Federal government for a Referendum on Sarawak Independence.

In an open memorandum to the Sarawak government, SAPA president Dominique Ng and SSRANZ president Robert Pei, in representing a significant section of people in Sarawak, urged the State government to convene a meeting of all Sarawak political and community organisations to discuss the framework for seeking independence in preparation for negotiations with the Federal government.

“We the undersigned called on the Sarawak government to consult with Sarawak political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups with the view to open discussions with the Federal government for the conduct of a Sarawak Independence Referendum, within an agreed time frame based on compelling legal, constitutional, political social economic grounds, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions (UNGAR) 1514.


“This is required to be done in order to complete the unfinished business of British decolonisation of Sarawak for real independence in 1963,” they said in a statement issued late yesterday (Sept 16) in conjunction with the Malaysia Day celebration.

A referendum, they proposed, is the most democratic way to seek people’s mandate on whether:

  1. Sarawak under the current situation is with complete restoration of rights and protections under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
  2. Sarawak is an independent and sovereign nation within a Malaysian confederation set-up.
  3. Sarawak exiting Malaysia as an independent and sovereign nation.

“On the 58th anniversary of the annexation of Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) into the Malayan federation renamed ‘Malaysia’ on Sept 16, 1963, we continue to reassert our inalienable right to freely and peacefully exercise national self-determination for Sarawak.

“This right is recognised by UNGAR 1514 as a formal part of international law and was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Chagos Case on Feb 25, 2019.”

The group also affirmed that they were legally advised that the “artificial creation of Malaysia” pursuant to MA63 did not have a legal basis as the international treaty was on its face invalid and the formation process was tainted with illegalities and wrongful acts.

“Malaysia was a fait accompli, predetermined by the UK and Malaya in 1961 and formally sealed and recorded in the secret ‘Agreement to Set up the Federation of Malaysia’ signed on July 31, 1962.

“The United Kingdom and Malayan governments had with full knowledge of MA63 invalidity, colluded to circumvent international law and unlawfully set up Malaysia in a manner that was inconsistent with the people’s right to self-determination.

“MA63 represents the most significant political development to affect Sarawak after the 1946 United Kingdom’s annexation of independent Sarawak in the face of very strong local ‘anti-Cession’ opposition.

“On both occasions, in the 1946 Annexation and subsequent 1963 Malayan Federation annexation, Sarawak had been coerced to surrender its sovereignty and right to independence for an unsatisfactory political solution unlawfully created by foreign powers under the pretext that it was for the Sarawak people’s benefit,” they argued.

They added that MA63 was invalid from the beginning as it was made under coercive emergency conditions (imposed after the anti-Malaysia Brunei Uprising on Dec 9, 1962) which placed the population under sustained pressure to give up independence, without obtaining the people’s consent freely given in a referendum.

They also drew attention to the fact that Malaysia proclamation date of Sept 16, 1963 was unlawfully and arbitrarily decided by the United Kingdom and Malayan governments in breach of the Manila Accord 1963 and United Nations decolonisation procedures under Resolution 1541, particularly in failing to comply with two requirements of holding a referendum on Borneo people’s wishes on federation with Malaysia and resolving Philippines’ claim on Sabah.

“This illegality is reflected by the fact the proclamation date was not celebrated nationally until 2013 and that MA63 is not cited in the UK Malaysia Act 1963 nor the Malayan Malaysia Act 1963 and the Federal and Sabah and Sarawak Constitutions respectively.

“If MA63 were valid, then it has been terminated by the multiple wilful Malayan breaches of all its foundational terms and international law, particularly after Singapore freely exited the federation in 1965, rendering the treaty no longer binding on the remaining three signatory parties.”

The promoted 1960s Malaysia concept, they pointed out, has become a state which has been failing in all political and social-economic areas.

“The back-door government’s abuse of the rule of law and parliamentary democracy and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown to all Sarawakians beyond any reasonable doubt, that 58 years of the euphemistic ‘independence in Malaysia’ was no more than domination, subservience and exploitation under the administration of the Federation of Malaysia with multiple and irreversible breaches of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, reducing Sarawak to a vassal state.”

They emphasised that the last 58 years have demonstrated how Malaya had deliberately acted in extreme bad faith and violated and illegally removed MA63 treaty terms including the agreed review of MA63 in 1973 which was abandoned on flimsy excuses by the Federal government.

“This exposed that Malaysia was just a false promise and a fraud and that the people were deceived to give up real independence. It was what they had feared as the re-colonisation of their country under a new foreign master who plundered its resources to develop Malaya after removing the guaranteed rights.

“The unending intergovernmental MA63 talks since 2015 is an acknowledgement of the Malayan failure to faithfully honour the MA63 guarantees to protect the special treaty rights and implement the foundational federation objectives.”

In recognition of Sarawakians’ strongest aspiration for autonomy, they reminded that the Adenan Satem government declared 22 July in 2016 as “Sarawak Independence Day” whereby the late chief minister had stressed  “If not for these privileges and rights and if the people of Sarawak had objected to the agreement, we would not have Malaysia as it is today”.

“He also said ‘Sarawak is not a Kuala Lumpur colony’ and ‘Sarawak did not get decolonised by one country to be colonised by another one’, echoing 1946 Sarawak nationalists who opposed the UK annexation of independent Sarawak.”

Since the date July 22 has been gazetted as Sarawak Independence Day, they emphasised that it is a legal and binding edict and as such, the present government must listen to the people’s voices calling for real independence.

“Real independence is to enable us to control our destiny, take back our country and resources so as to re-construct Sarawak from the chaotic mess of the failed Malaysian federation.

“We call on the Sarawak people to henceforth relentlessly and peacefully struggle for the restoration of Sarawak independence and sovereignty which was initiated by Sarawak patriots and nationalists in their 1946 anti-Cession struggle,” they urged.

The open memorandum was endorsed and supported by 23 NGOs and political parties including Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Sarawakians for Sarawak, Bulang Birieh Dayak, Persatuan Adat Asal Bidoyoh, Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS), Sabah Sarawak Borneo Natives Organisation Inc Australia, Republic of Sabah North Borneo Association, among others. — DayakDaily