Is there a crack between Sabah and Sarawak in MA63?


When Malaysians describe Malaysia, rarely do they called Malaysia just Malaysia. The terms ‘Peninsular’, ‘Sabah’ and ‘Sarawak’ is a common formula, like some sort of Malaysian denomination, accepted by all Malaysians.

That by itself says a lot — that Malaysia is divided into West and East Malaysia. Through time immemorial, Sabah and Sarawak have always been bundled together geographically and known as Borneo, while the rest is the Malaya Peninsular, the Federal side.

Treated as the adopted orphans, the Eastern Malaysian states found a common ground — the struggle against the oppression of their Western stepbrothers and adopted parents. Like some sort of chemical bonding that holds atoms tougher, they found their fibres and fates intertwined. Unwilling to consent to dominance, they found their common struggles. In unison the eastern bloc found a common voice, demanding their rights granted under Malaysian Agreement (MA63) to be returned to them.

However, recent events unfolding before our eyes seems to have shown that cracks are already forming. While Sarawak is forging ahead full of vigour, Sabah’s pursuit of the matter might have dwindled down. It seems to have taken on a higher moral ground, as Datuk Seri Teo Chee Kang does not seem to agree with Sarawak’s way of pursuing the matter, and see the action to pass a resolution in the state legislative assembly as unnecessary.

The same man, previously screaming ‘restoration of special rights of Sabah’ as the main agenda for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), recently sang a mellowed down tune. Citing his confidence in the present Kuala Lumpur administration, he believes that Sabah’s right which was unintentionally taken by Kuala Lumpur will be returned to Sabah. Describing Sabah and the federal government as sharing the ‘same sentiment’, the outspoken Sabah leader seemed to have been assured. The timeline of the ‘returns’ was not mentioned, and does not seem to matter very much either.

As in many things, timing can make or break any plan. The timing of the statement by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia couldn’t have occurred at a poorer (or to others, a better) time. Uninvited, Pandikar disagreed with the claims that Sabah and Sarawak had equal status with Malaya. If the purported newspaper cutting of Sabah Times in 1997 circulating on social media is indeed true, then Pandikar’s outburst is nothing new, should not be treated as news and ignored at best. But this was not meant to be. The remarks by the Sabah UMNO member has successfully started a series of verbal spats between the eastern states.

In politics, the tactics of divide and conquer has got to be one of the oldest, yet most effective strategies of all time. While Sabah seemed to have opted for a softer and slower approach, one cannot help but notice the obvious.

Almost cleverly crafted, previously as ‘brave’, Sarawak is now perceived as brash and aggressive in comparison.

Moving at a speed of its own, Sarawak seems to have left Sabah behind (or vice-versa), and is moving towards isolation, to the glee of some. Alas the Eastern Malaysian states are no longer in sync and united no more.

While Kuala Lumpur is watching the cracks between Sarawak and Sabah from across the straits, DAP agents in Sarawak jumped at the golden opportunity to urge Sarawak to challenge and take on Kuala Lumpur. They claimed that the war between Sarawak and Pandikar is nothing but a smokescreen and questioned the deafening silence of Kuala Lumpur on the matter.

For DAP, the rule of the game is to form a wedge between members of the BN coalition. And what better way to achieve this than to stir the hornets’ nest. Whatever tools they use, Sarawak must be isolated further, as this is the only way the BN’s fixed deposit can be fixed.

Will Sarawak fall victim to the oldest strategy of all time? Divided, isolated and conquered? — DayakDaily