NGO: Sabah and Sarawak are 2 separate territories. Full stop

Dominique Ng

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Feb 13: Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspirations (Sapa) president Dominique Ng said the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the prime documents related to the formation of Malaysia are very clear about Sabah and Sarawak being two separate territories and not one as alleged by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal, and that Sarawak and Sabah, together with the territories of Malaya and Singapore, formed the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

Ng warned that the current, and very petty, argument seemingly between Sabah and Sarawak over the meaning of ‘territories’, of whether there are one or two territories, may lead the people to miss the ‘wood for the trees’.

“Indeed, the definition of the word ‘territory’ usually denotes ‘a geographical area that has been acquired by a particular country but has not been recognised as a full participant in that country’s affairs’. In plain simple English — colonies!

“And by that definition, the word of which has been included in the said Annex A of MA63, could it be argued that Sabah and Sarawak have become, and by default are still, colonies of Malaya? Or more correctly, colonies of the Federation of Malaya?

“Because the behaviour of the Federal Government so far, since those Malaysia formation days of 1963, has always been one of a colonial master over its colonies of Sarawak and Sabah, acquired as a result of MA63,” said Ng today.

Indeed, Ng reminded all the squabbling parties that Sept 16, the day Malaysia was formed or otherwise known as Malaysia Day, was totally ignored and relegated to the rubbish bins of history for decades until a decade long campaign led by some people, including he himself, managed to have it restored officially and accorded a public holiday status in 2013.

As such, he proposed that it would be more profitable for Sarawakians and Sabahans to employ their collective time to deciding whether MA63 is still valid or whether it was void ab initio or voidable as a result of the numerous breaches thereof.

“And if so, why are we still squabbling over the titbits thrown out by Malaya, and where we have to scramble over in our haste to fight over them?” he asked.

Ng, who is also a former Padungan assemblyman, is leading a team that has expressed its intention to sue the Federal Government over MA63.

He was responding to what he has described as the ‘current confusion over the status of Sabah and Sarawak’ between Shafie and Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Ng said the statement that was allegedly and originally ascribed to Shafie was that he (Shafie) had, at the meeting with the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, brought up ‘the status of Sabah and Sarawak as one territory’, about the restoring of such a status, and that it had been stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). And which had brought about the criticism of Masing, who had expressed a differing opinion, that Sabah and Sarawak are two territories, not one.

“Today, we read of a fellow MA63 activist and champion Zainnal Ajamain coming to the defence of Shafie and claiming that James Masing was incorrect in saying that Sarawak and Sabah were two separate regions in the Federation of Malaysia.

“Zainnal was referring to the MA63 and Annex A Part II Section 1(3) thereof and that it was stated therein that both Borneo states are a territory and that it was a misconception on the part of Masing about the word ‘territories’ therein,” he said.

Ng, who is also an advocate and solicitor practising in Sarawak, said that when he looked up the section quoted, what he could only find was an Annex A Part II Clause 4(3), which was relevant [and not section 1(3)] and that also referred to a clause 4(2).

For the sake of clarity Ng then reproduced the whole section, which reads as follows: 4(1) the Federation shall be known, in Malay and in English, by the name Malaysia and (2) The States of the Federation shall be: (a) the States of Malaya, namely Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and (b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; (c) the state of Singapore and (3)The territories of each of the States mentioned in Clause (2) are the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day.

As such, Ng stressed that nowhere in the said clauses was there any reference that can be construed as making Sabah and Sarawak a single territory.

“No doubt they were referred together as ‘the Borneo States’ in Clause 2(b),” he said.

However, Ng said that it was very clearly stated in Clause (3) that Sabah and Sarawak (and also Singapore, for that matter) were two separate territories as they were ‘the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day’. — DayakDaily