Are the words `Pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963’ taboo? asks ex-rep

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, April 20: De facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong should explain clearly why Sarawak’s insistence that the words `Pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963’ be included in the recent bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was refused by the federal government.

Former Batu Lintang assemblyman Voon Lee Shan noted that Liew had cited the Attorney General Chambers as saying that the inclusion of these six words would “give rise to complications”, but never explained why publicly.

Voon, who is a practising lawyer, asserted that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had a duty to explain to the public what these complications are and how they could arise.

“Without these six words, then how Sabah and Sarawak became part of the Federation of Malaysia? Under what legal instrument Sabah and Sarawak were absorbed or taken by the Federation of Malaya? Was there a fraud involved that caused the disclosure impossible?” he asked.

Voon opined that although Article 1 of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 mentioned that Sabah and Sarawak were to be federated with the Federation of Malaya, the general perception was that Sabah and Sarawak are colonies of the Federation of Malaya, which took a new name — the Federation of Malaysia — when Sabah and Sarawak was federated with Malaya on Sept 16, 1963.

Insisting that Malaya could not plug Sabah and Sarawak “from the sky”, Voon said the re-amended Article 1(2) should have some mention of the Treaty (MA63) so that the Treaty had constitutional backing.

“If the Treaty has no constitutional backing, the serious implication is that Sabah and Sarawak were incorporated into the Malayan Federation without any mandate. Without the Treaty, Malaysia could not be said to have been properly constituted,” he reasoned.

With Singapore having exited without the knowledge and or consent of Sabah and Sarawak in 1965, should not the Federation of Malaysia collapse? he wondered.

“Perhaps, it was for this reason that these `six words’ as asked for by the Sarawak government was refused to be included in the re-amended Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

“By not wanting to include these six words, the federal government seems to say the MA63 does not apply to Sabah and Sarawak. If this should be the case, there is no reason for the federal government to hold Sabah and Sarawak as part of Malaysia anymore,” he said.

Voon reckoned Sarawak’s insistence to have these six words included was perhaps an “insurance route” for the state government to seek an exit in the legal arena from the Federation of Malaysia if the relationship with Malaya soured in future.

“We need to know that reverting to the original positions or status in 1963 means nothing or meaningless, unless the PH government gives back our territorial waters, oil and gas and that all the 222 parliamentary seats be equally divided between Sabah and Sarawak with the Federation of Malaya,” he said.

Voon claimed that many legal minds doubted Malaysia was properly constituted. Among the reasons are that the Cobbold Commission Report, which formed the basis for the Malaysia Agreement 1963, was considered misleading or a fraud.

The MA63 is a Treaty, and it was opined that Sabah and Sarawak, being country colonies of Britain, could not at that material time, under international law signed a Treaty.

Voon pointed to a decision by the International Court of Justice, which, in the Chagos Islands case brought by Mauritius against the United Kingdom, decides that colonies could not sign treaties.

The Chagos Islands case is similar to the situation faced by Sabah and Sarawak.

“At the material time, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was signed and Sabah and Sarawak were handed to enlarge the territories of the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak were still countries colonised by Britain.

“However, the state government had considered that since Malaysia was formed pursuant to the Treaty called the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the state government had  just wanted six words `Pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963’ to be included in the re-amended Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, but this was refused by the PH government,” he said. — DayakDaily