Political scientist’s challenge to Borneo States clever ‘reverse psychology’, says Upko president

Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau

KUCHING, Sept 20: Political scientist Prof Wong Chin Huat’s challenge for Sabahans and Sarawakians wanting Borneo regions to be kicked out of Malaysia to “Borneonise Malaya” by demanding secularism, multiculturalism and decentralisation is “simply a clever play of reverse psychology”. 

This is the opinion of United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau who opined that Wong’s objective was to push Sabahans and Sarawakians to develop a stronger sense of ownership in Malaysia. 

“Prof Wong is a true Malaysian federalist. His challenge to those Sabahans and Sarawakians who want their home regions to leave Malaysia was cheeky.

“He (Wong) wanted them to first advocate for the kind of Malaysia they want to see, with secularism, multiculturalism and decentralisation, and even to Borneonise Malaya,” he said in a statement today in responding to United Malays National Organisation (Umno) vice president Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin’s disapproval of Wong’s remarks which Khaled said appeared to be fanning the flames of separatism for Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia. 

Amused and concerned to learn that Wong was accused of stirring up separatist sentiment, Madius opined that Wong is the last person to qualify as a Sabah or Sarawak separatist. 

“He does not even support the proposal to give 35 per cent parliamentary seats (to Sabah and Sarawak). 

“Instead, he backs the growing call by me and others that Sabah and Sarawak should first and foremost be given autonomous power on education and health, and a one-third veto power for Sabah and Sarawak in an elected and enhanced Dewan Negara,” he added. 

While Madius said he may not agree with many of Wong’s ideas, however he is happy to listen to him and hopes Khaled and other leaders from the peninsula would listen too, not just to Wong but also more Sabahans and Sarawakians to understand what Malaysians of various backgrounds want of Malaysia. 

“Please be open minded and gentle with dissenting voices,” he urged. 

Khaled in condemning Wong’s statement today pointed out that he should not ignite the separatist flames and that tying back everything towards the dissatisfaction of the people towards Umno was not a mature or progressive approach towards resolving things. 

He added that “promoting division” was not only “malicious” and “irresponsible” but also “unpatriotic, anti-constitutional and anti-national”. 

“Malaysia was founded on the clear and important values of understanding, respect, constitutional spirit and federal relations. Stop calling for division and separation. Contribute ideas and values that can make our country and society better,” he said. 

Wong’s statement on Monday (Sept 19) had mentioned that many Sabahans and Sarawakians hoped Malaya would kick their regions out of Malaysia, as done with Singapore. As such, he opined that Sabahans and Sarawakians have got to do what the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Singapore did. 

He said the PAP had a different idea of how the federation of Malaysia should be and that this had threatened Umno. 

Instead of asking to leave or be left alone, Wong said Sabah and Sarawak should offer their aspiration on how Malaysia should be. While East and West Malaysians make their aspirations clear, they can meet each other in the middle.

Citing the experiences of Indonesia, Canada and Belgium, Wong emphasised that a well-planned and orderly decentralisation can mitigate separatist sentiments.

Assuring Khaled that while their approaches and narratives may be different, it is directed towards a stronger and sustainable Malaysia. 

Wong then outlined steps to strengthen Malaysia including a decentralisation that involves the peninsula states in negotiation, devolution of power to divisions within Sabah and Sarawak, veto power for Sabah and Sarawak in an elected Senate, and a hybrid electoral system that would encourage all parties to take a more national stance. — DayakDaily