Not seditious to talk about independence, says PBK president

Voon (second left) together with (from left) PBK deputy president Peli Aron, vice-presidents Awang Badeli Ali and Peter Asut, hold copies of “Bumi Kenyalang - In Quest of Independence” booklets.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, June 19: There is nothing seditious for Sarawak to seek independence from Malaysia, as there is nothing in the Federal Constitution to stop the state from seeking self determination.

Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan, in referring to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, said a country or a state volunteering to enter into a federation can also come out.

Voon, who is also former Batu Lintang assemblyman, viewed the sedition law as very subjective and not refined.

If talking about independence is considered seditious, then the government should have gone after Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, as well as Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, who sought independence from the United Kingdom, he said.

“The Sedition Act 1948 and the Internal Security Act 1960 were there but not used against Lee and Tunku Abdul Rahman. It is the same scenario to what we are implying.

“If somebody from Peninsular Malaysia said our call for independence is seditious, it could only mean that they have vested interest, that they wanted to see Sarawak resources continued to be pumped to Putrajaya,” he told a press conference at his legal firm, here, today

Voon cited the United Kingdom’s claim of sovereignty over Chagos Islands as an example, after judgement by the United Nations’ highest court — the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague (Feb 25, 2019) — ruled that British occupation of the remote Indian ocean archipelago was illegal.

ICJ president, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the process of separating Chagos Islands from Mauritius during decolonisation in the 1960s constituted as “unlawful detachment” and was a “wrongful act”.

ICJ, in its Advisory Opinion delivered on July 22, 2010, concluded that “the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on Feb 17, 2008, did not violate international law. Kosovo had declared unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

In this regards, Voon said Sarawak has the right for self determination and to seek supervision from the United Nations in the quest for independence.

He added that the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 have not been fully complied with, and that resolution has the force of law under international law.

“The law says we have the right to self determination and the right to talk about independence. Sarawakians have to wake up and fight for the struggle of our independence.

“This is in line with the United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541, which allow a colonisation self determination,” he continued.

Voon also said that many experts are of the view that the handing over of the Borneo territories of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Singapore, to the Federation of Malaya at the time, was not in accordance with international law.

Due to problems arising in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), the legal opinion was that MA63 is null ab initio, and hence should not be a foundation for the formation of Malaysia, he said.

He said that MA63 was void ab initio because Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore at that moment, were still colonies of Britain and have no capacity to enter into any treaty with Britain and Malaya.

Voon also believed that the fundamental breaches of MA63, which was already admitted by the federal government through their intention to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, should also be considered as grounds for the state government to bring Sarawak out of the federation.

He added international law also recognised political and economic differences as grounds for a state to negotiate its exit. — DayakDaily