Is the UK avoiding its treaty responsibilities to MA63, questions SSRANZ

Robert Pei

KUCHING, June 9: Sabah Sarawak Rights – Australia New Zealand (SSRANZ) president Robert Pei questions the seeming selectiveness of the United Kingdom as it has been vocal in supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement as part of its “treaty responsibilities” but has repeatedly stated it would not interfere in Malaysia’s internal affairs.

In a statement, Pei asserted UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s silence over the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was in stark contrast to his readiness to risk UK’s lucrative relations with China by criticising the Chinese government and provocatively offering “protection” visas to disaffected Hong Kong Chinese citizens over China’s alleged non-compliance or breaches of their rights under the “One country, two systems” constitution and recently over enforcement of the national security laws.

He noted the Chinese government has condemned this as interfering in China’s internal affairs

To Pei, the UK’s stand in fact breaches international law on non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

Pei claimed that there are distinguishing features between the Hong Kong and Sabah and Sarawak situations in relation to Britain’s treaty responsibilities arising from treaties it made with the Chinese government in 1984 and the Malayan Government in 1963 respectively, which raises the issue of British double standards in its approach to the two situations.


In his opinion, British responsibilities or obligations for Hong Kong ended when it restored legal possession and sovereignty to its rightful owner China of a territory which Britain had forcibly seized in the Opium Wars in the 1840s.

“It should also be noted that the extradition and national security laws required to be enacted for Hong Kong under its Basic Laws are not unusual but are part and parcel of the security laws of most countries around the world,” opined Pei.

Pei asserted in the case of Sabah and Sarawak, the British government instead of handing sovereignty back to the rightful owners (the Sabah and Sarawak peoples) had “gifted” the colonies to Malaya pursuant to MA63.

“This transfer of sovereignty was purportedly made pursuant to the de-colonisation of the two colonies which Britain annexed in 1946 with the undertaking to grant independence to the two territories and not to include Sarawak in the Malayan Union formed in that year. British responsibility arose from the guarantees given by Malaya to Britain for handing over the colonies to the federation.”

He also asserted the Malaysia proposal had been hurriedly and improperly imposed on a largely politically immature and unrepresented population who were subsequently forced into an unequal union which was a sold as a “federation of equal partners” and “decolonisation for self-determination”.

According to him, the UK had clearly breached its 1946 undertaking to grant independence to the two colonies and UN resolutions 1514 and 1541 by the secret Anglo-Malayan “Agreement to set up the Federation of Malaysia” (signed on 31 July 1962) and conducting MA63 federation “negotiations” on behalf of the colonies and not by direct negotiations with elected representatives of local independent legislatures thus rendering MA63 void ab initio.

“This illegality was compounded by the signing of the agreement by the colonial attorney-generals for the two colonies and handpicked British nominees on behalf of the two colonies.

“In reality the British government had deprived the two colonies of their right to independence by unlawfully incorporating them into the Malayan federation without their people’s concurrence and after subjecting them to sustained political pressure and denying them the opportunity to choose independence.

“In doing so the British government had been deceitful in promising the people independence when it annexed North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak in 1946 in the face of local opposition,” Pei added.

He claimed the real object for federation was described in a 1962 CIA report: “In short, the Federation proposal is a contrived political manoeuvre, essentially defensive in nature, and designed for the primary purpose of checking the Communist threat in Singapore while protecting the preferred political position of the Malays throughout the area. It amounts, in effect, to a merging of Singapore and ‘the three Borneo territories into the existing Federation of Malaya.

“This was not “decolonisation” as claimed by the British government but the UK’s colonial era arrangement with their long held ‘Grand Design’ to protect British interests in the region by consolidating them under the control of a friendly state and the UK had neglected its United Nations and international law duty and responsibility to ‘decolonise’ Sabah and Sarawak’.

“Whether the issue of MA63 was void ab initio or not, the fact remains that both the British and Malayan governments had unlawfully engaged in a joint pernicious effort to transfer sovereignty over North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak to Malaya under MA63. Neither parties can shirk from their responsibility to see to the final decolonization of the two territories,” he argued.

Pei called on Johnson to be seen as acting responsibly in particular, to approach the Malaysian government and the United Nations to facilitate the final decolonisation of the two territories.

“The reasons for forming Malaysia have long since ceased to exist in the face of irrefutable evidence that fundamental terms and conditions for the Malaysian federation have never been honoured in good faith and the people are entitled to exit for independence. This would be in accordance with Britain’s solemn promise to grant independence made on its 1946 annexation of Sabah and Sarawak, a process which was part of Britain’s Grand Design culminating in the ‘creation of Malaysia’,” Pei claimed.

“There should be no double standards in this matter as it is clear that the UK retains a legal responsibility as the initiator and leading signatory party to MA63 registered with the UN and governed by international law.

“This puts MA63 under the UN and its International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. The precedent to re-open decolonisation cases has been set down by the ICJ in the Chagos Case.

“The British government can no longer go on avoiding its responsibility to see that decolonisation justice be done and assist with the freeing of Sabah and Sarawak from the failed de facto union.

“Failure to do so will continue Sabah and Sarawak’s unenviable distinction of being the last two countries to be made colonies after WWII (World War II) when the era of decolonisation was just beginning,” Pei opined. — DayakDaily