Sarawak, Sabah different from states in peninsula, asserts DUN Speaker

Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 28: Sarawak and Sabah cannot be lumped together with states in the Federation of Malaya, as states in the peninsula are not signatories of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Legally and constitutionally, states in the peninsula are not equal to Sarawak and Sabah, said State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

He cited Chapter 4, Section d, Paragraph 237 of the Cobbold Commission report, which stated that it is a necessary condition, that from the outset, Malaysia should be regarded as an association of partners, combining the common interest to create a new nation but retaining their own identities.

“If any idea were to take root that Malaysia would involve a ‘takeover’ of the Borneo states by the Federation of Malaya and the submission of the individuality of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak, Malaysia would not, in my judgment, be generally accepted or successful.

“The physical of the individual states of the Federation of Malaya is not equal to Sarawak and Sabah as the individual states were not signatories to MA63.

“They were collectively represented by the prime minister and deputy prime minister of the Federation of Malaya, whereas, Sarawak and Sabah were individually signatories to the said agreement,” he told a press conference after the DUN pre-council meeting here today.

Mohamad Asfia, who is also the Sarawak Consultative Committee chairman, said Chapter 4(a), Section 1, Paragraph 148 (b) of the Cobbold Commission report recommended that the existing Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should be taken as a basis of the Constitution of the new federation with such amendments and safeguards as many as necessary.

It also recommended that no amendment, modification or withdrawal, or any special safeguard granted should be made by the central government without the positive concurrence of the government of the state concerned.

“Geographically and territorially, Sarawak is 48,051 sq miles, which is the same physical size of Malaya, which is 50,914 sq miles minus Negeri Sembilan, which is 2,581 square miles.

“If anyone says that 48,051 sq miles is equivalent and enrank with 2,581 sq miles, that person has to have his head examined,” he said.

Mohamad Asfia speaking to reporters after the DUN pre-council meeting at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) headquarters in Kuching this afternoon. Flanking him are deputy DUN Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala (left) and DUN secretary Semawi Mohamad (right).

He reminded that the Cobbold Commission, the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) and MA63 are the substratum on which the edifice of the Federal Constitution is constructed.

“If a person speaks of Malaysia but does not give cognisance to the Cobbold Commission, IGC and MA63, where does it stand? It is like a man who says that he breathes but has no nose or lungs,” he opined.

Mohamad Asfia also cited the Federal Court’s judgment on two cases, namely Mohammad Tufail Mahmud and Keruntum.

The Federal Court’s decision of the former stated that “safeguards and assurances provided to Sarawak were critical and pivotal to secure the participation of Sarawak in the formation of Malaysia.

“The Cobbold Commission was created to ascertain the views of the people of the Borneo States.

“The report showed that the people had fears of substitution of one colonisation with another, fear of being taken over by the then Federation of Malaya, fear of the submersion of the individuality of North Borneo and Sarawak within the Federation of Malaya.”

In this regards, the Cobbold Commission unanimously agreed that the formation of the Federation of Malaysia is in the best interest of Sarawak and North Borneo.

The ruling also said these fears were ultimately addressed by the formation of the IGC, on which the British, Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo governments were represented.

In the case of Keruntum, Mohamad Asfia quoted the Federal Court’s decision, which said, “To make matters worse, the apex court ruled (yesterday), that the recommendation under paragraph 26(4) of IGC Report was never implemented under Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement through incorporation in the Federal Constitution or in any law, such as the Court of Judicature Act 1964 passed after the Malaysia Day, or by executive orders made pursuant to Article 74 of the Malaysia Act, 1963.”

Mohamad Asfia described the recent Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as too narrow and meaningless. One can’t just unilaterally or arbitrarily bring about the amendment in Parliament, he said. — DayakDaily