Peninsular Malaysian power play has no place in Bornean states

Atama Katama (left) and Peter John Jaban

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KUCHING, Feb 28: Sabah and Sarawak political parties must not use the two Borneo states as pawns for any form of self-serving short-term deals as Malaysia’s political crisis deepens.

In a joint statement from Sabah and Sarawak activists, the Sabahan and Sarawakian People’s Initiative (SASS) called upon all people of the Bornean states to reject the ongoing political manoeuvring at the federal level, between the national parties and their proxies in Borneo.

Co-founders of SASS Atama Katama and Peter John Jaban emphasised that Sarawak and Sabah should put their foot down and say no to this 20-year-old power struggle between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“These two men have not just alienated and treated Sabah and Sarawak as another Malay state but also made little progress in negotiations to liberate the people from these long decades of sub-colonisation.

“Sarawakians and Sabahans have had enough of their political game using the two states and people as their path was littered with broken election promises and arrogance,” they said.

Atama pointed out that Sabahans in particular still had not forgotten the infamous Project IC which created a major sovereignty and security problem to the indigenous state.

“Sabah has already been the victim of this kind of political machinations when, just two years ago, the Sabah government was formed through the backdoor, against the mandate of the people.

“In order to prop up their coalition, Sabah was forced to see its political representatives scuttling desperately for alliances in Peninsular Malaysia with little benefit to the citizens of the state,” he said.

At that time, he added that Bersih 2.0 remained silent, as many political parties from Peninsula meddled in Sabah politics, proving that Bersih 2.0 was a partisan block for certain ruling parties from Peninsula with little regard for the mandate of the people and future of the Borneo States.

“Now, due to their own failure to highlight dirty politics objectively and when it hits them in the face, they turn back to the people to reject the back door government and respect people mandate. Such hypocrisy at the highest level as using the people especially Sabahan and Sarawakians as their political tool is disgusting,” he criticised.

Longtime human rights defender of Sarawak Peter stressed that Sabahans and Sarawakians have their own dignity and rights and should no longer just be a rubber stamp for any form of politics or political manoeuvring in Peninsula be it through parties or proxies.

“It’s time for us to wake up and reject this kind of dirty politics and power games. The people of Borneo have our own vision and political culture and we should exercise it in our own interests.

“It has been two years since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government came to power and to date, it has singularly failed to rectify any of the sins of their past, especially of Dr Mahathir with respect to Sabah and Sarawak rights.

“All they have done and continue to do is to dangle a carrot and play politics with Sabah and Sarawak parties while they expand the political network here. Even the civil societies from Peninsula just treat us as symbolic and as their political tool and labour,” he said.

As such, Peter reiterated that Sarawakians and Sabahans must stand up and once and for all, display their dignity and rights.

“We must pressure our elected representatives, whether through protest or through the political process, to behave in our best interests, not just for today but for the future of our state. We are not here merely to prop them up. They are here to return us our inalienable rights and our sovereignty,” he called on.

SASS therefore demanded Sabahan and Sarawakian politicians to reject all negotiations and call for a referendum to determine the position and future of the two Borneo states in this Federation.

“We deserve a new deal for Sabah and Sarawak and reclaim our rights to speak up for our land as per our choice and terms. For our rights, sovereignty and self determination as people of Borneo,” he added. —DayakDaily