Hold referendum to decide if Sarawak and Sabah want to exit Malaysia — ex-rep

Voon Lee Shan - file pic

KUCHING, Sept 3: A former assemblyman has suggested that a referendum be held to determine whether Sarawakians and Sabahans still want to remain in the Federation of Malaysia or opt for self-government.

Voon Lee Shan, the former Batu Lintang assemblyman, suggested that it be done by Members of Parliament (MPs) from Sarawak and Sabah by moving a motion in Parliament.

In a statement, Voon, who is a senior lawyer, argued that the Cobbold Commission had no locus standi to represent the voices of Sarawakians and the then North Borneo (Sabah) to determine if they wanted the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

He said the Commission was a selective inquiry by way of interviewing less than one per cent of the people of Sarawak and Sabah then. The interview lasted only a few weeks. Thus, Voon wondered whether these selected few who were picked to give their views represented the people of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak at that time.

“To me, such a move was politically not right. And being less than one per cent, they (the one per cent) have no locus standi to represent the voices of the people of North Borneo and Sarawak.

“It was a mockery to the rights of the people of these nations at that time, and now we have difficulties in exerting our rights,” he opined.

Voon believed the best step the British at the time should have taken was by way of a referendum.

He said the British government had the local community and political leaders at that time “dragged” to the Inquiry Committee without proper advice at all; therefore, they could have acted under coercion or duress.

“These leaders mostly being of lowly education were lost. Most of them had never stepped beyond the waters of Sarawak and North Borneo at that time.

“Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had wanted Sarawak and North Borneo for one reason only, and that is our resources: This is because tin mining in Malaya could no more provide the much-needed income to run Malaya,” Voon claimed. — DayakDaily