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Activists want ‘legitimacy’ issue on federation resolved

 | November 30, 2016

They caution the federal government against continuing to harp on the secessionist talk in the social media.


KOTA KINABALU: Borneo rights activists are at their wits end about Putrajaya’s inability to address the relationship between it and the Borneo states.

“The issue of Putrajaya’s legitimacy in Borneo must be addressed,” said Peter John Jaban and Daniel John Jambun in an interview. “The issue of secession or otherwise does not arise.”

They were commenting on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement on Sabah and Sarawak.

“It (secession) is not going to happen,” Najib was quoted as saying by The Sun. “There will be no more talk of Sabah and Sarawak’s secession from Malaysia.”

Sarawak4Sarawakians chairman, Jaban, said the pre-requisite was getting the relationship right between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya. “The nature of this relationship remains unresolved,” he said.

Jambun cautioned the federal government against continuing to harp on the secessionist talk in the social media.

“It’s pointless advising the people to stop talking about leaving the federation,” said Jambun who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim Foundation). “The real issue is legitimacy.”

He noted that Najib agreed that “if it’s something we did, which clearly violated the agreement (MA63), and took away the rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak, then we will make amends”.

The prime minister was also quoted as saying in The Sun report that “any amendment to MA63 must not go against the Federal Constitution”.

The Federal Constitution is a separate issue from MA63, said Jaban. “The Federal Constitution is not the Malaysian Constitution stated in MA63.”

Jambun, revisiting Najib’s reference to “any amendment” of MA63, said the issue (amendment) did not arise since the constitutional document was an international agreement and treaty.

“It was signed by five governments and lodged with the UN secretary-general as a trust deed,” he said.

In short, he said, it was not possible to review and/or amend MA63 without the original five signatory nations taking part. “MA63 and the Malaysian Constitution are synonymous.”

For example, MA63 cannot be amended to use the definition of “Federation” in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution to cover Borneo, said the duo. “Sabah and Sarawak are in Borneo, not in the Malay peninsula. That’s the reality.”

The way forward, said Jambun, was to use the uncodified/unwritten Malaysian Constitution for the greater Borneo/Malayan Federation (Malaysia).

“In this way, MA63 won’t be in conflict with the Federal Constitution,” agreed Jaban.

The issue was not about leaving the federation or otherwise, he reiterated. “The issue is how did we get into this situation and how do we find closure.”


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