Sarawak/Sabah Independence – 45th or 51st?

The present media and public expectations that Anwar will be PM come 16th September have made the STOCK Market more nervous now than ever. All the speculations that he will get enough crossovers to get the simple majority have made more people who hate the present ruling Party, BN, more ardent and stringent in their call for a change in Government. One of such call comes from Yong Teck Lee from SAPP, a component Party of BN, who wants Abdullah Badawi to be voted out as Party Leader and thus from the Premiership. Of course so far his efforts had failed to bring the desired result and SAPP is in a limbo as to whether it is going to be sacked from BN or not.

Further Yong raised a thorny point of whether Sarawak and Sabah should be celebrating the 51st or 45th anniversary. He commended Sarawak for celebrating its 45th Anniversary of Independence this 31st August as the “right thing to do” as Sarawak and Sabah were still under the “COLONIAL RULE” till midnight the 15th of September 1963.

Celebrating our Independence day on the 31st August is one of the conditions imposed on Sabah and Sarawak as to the formation of Malaysia in 1963. We were supposed to form Malaysia on that day but because of the opposition from SUPP then and the reservations raised by the Dayak leaders, a commission was set up to determine whether the people of Sarawak and Sabah really wanted to form Malaysia with West Malaysia as the dominant partner, Muslim as the National Religion, Bahasa Malaysia as the national and official language and so forth….

Contentious issues were smartly resolved by giving safeguards under the inter-governmental Report which satisfy everyone then hoping that Sarawak and Sabah rights would be safeguarded. Some others were placed into the Constitution. These were the flaws which neither Sarawak nor Sabah leaders realized then. I once told the Late Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui that it was a grievous mistake to safeguard our State rights under the Federal Constitution which is a living document subject to amendments any part there-of and anytime since Sarawak and Sabah was NOT guaranteed to at least one third of the seats in the Malaysian Parliament. The matter was made worse when Singapore was asked to leave later.

The first Malaysian Constitution stated that Malaysia “shall consist of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo” implying equal partnership. Now the Constitution states that Malaysia consists of the following States: (1)Perlis,……(12)Sabah and (13)Sarawak”. The framers of our Constitution were very smart in downgrading the Status of Sarawak and Sabah to be at par with all the States in West Malaysia or also known at the time of the Formation of Malaysia as The Federation Of Malaya which consisted of the Nine Malay States, Penang and Malacca.

Now with almost all the safeguards in the IGC report taken back by the respective Federal Authorities and with all the amendments made to the Federal Constitution, it is no wonder that more and more Sabahans and Sarawakians are questioning certain unresolved issues such illegal immigrants given citizenship by someone in the Authority before for dubious reasons known only to the perpetrators themselves especially rampant in Sabah but also in a smaller number in Sarawak. Definitely if the leaders of Sabah and Sarawak saw what happened to-day, at least two third of them would have rejected the idea of forming Malaysia. In fact, one Bidayuh leader convinced many Bidayuhs “they should not fear as there are more Bidayuhs than the Malays”. He only knew Bau District composition but not the reason why the Malays of Sarawak wanted Malaysia to be formed. Poor him, he must be turning all over in his grave now his mistaken belief!

So will Anwar’s premiership ensure more freedom for Sarawak and Sabah to pursue its dreams of Independence or will he impose more restrictions under the veneer of national integration as were in his time when he was in power? Or worse still if with enough defections and crossovers to PKR, UMNO die hards refused to give in and declare Emergency instead, what then?

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