Opposition to focus on Batu Sumpah pledges, says Kit Siang

kit-siangPETALING JAYA: The opposition will focus on promoting the pledges of the Batu Sumpah (oath stone) to woo voters in the 14th general election (GE14) in Sabah.

Gelang Patah MP and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said three pledges were inscribed in the stone in Keningau in conjunction with Sabah’s decision to join in the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

He said these must be upheld by the current federal and state governments.

Lim said ensuring these pledges are fulfilled was more important than moving it from its current location in the compound of the new Keningau district office.

“This will be one of the major issues in the next general election, both national and in Sabah,” he said.

“What is of paramount importance is not the ‘relocation’ of Batu Sumpah, but to ensure the three reciprocal pledges on religion, Orang Asal customs and land are living commitments of both the federal and Sabah state governments.”

Lim, who is the DAP parliamentary leader, said this in a statement in conjunction with the launch of DAP’s Kaamatan festival in Bingkor, Sabah, yesterday.

The oath stone was erected to commemorate the terms by which Sabah, which was then known as North Borneo, joined Sarawak and states in the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963.

The stone, which bears a plaque with the inscribed pledges, was officially unveiled on Aug 31, 1964 at the compound of the old Keningau district office.

The pledges provide that there would be freedom of religion in Sabah, that the Sabah government holds authority over land matters in the state, and that native customs and traditions would be respected and upheld by the government.

It also enjoins the people in Sabah’s interior to pledge their loyalty to the Malaysian government.

Lim said it was time for the people of Keningau and the Sabah interior to make history again in GE14 by working to change governments in Putrajaya and Sabah to “re-set” nation-building directions and policies.

He said since the last general election in May 2013, the two DAP MPs in Sabah, Jimmy Wong (Kota Kinabalu) and Stephen Wong (Sandakan), had kept the oath stone’s pledges in the limelight in the Dewan Rakyat.

He said their efforts had not been in vain as Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz announced on May 2 an allocation of RM1.025 million to move the stone to a suitable location with facilities for visitors next to the Keningau Heritage Museum.

“But the real issue is not about the relocation of Batu Sumpah,” Lim said, stressing that focus should be placed on complying with the pledges.

“In fact, since September 2014, DAP had launched a Batu Sumpah awareness campaign in Sabah and at least half a dozen replicas of Batu Sumpah have been erected in Sabah.”

He said Sabahans had also made history with the “awakening” in Tambunan in 1984, referring to the by-election victory there by Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who would later become Sabah chief minister.

The by-election in December that year saw Kitingan, who had been expelled from the Sabah government and the ruling Berjaya party led by chief minister Harris Salleh, successfully defending the seat as an independent, thrashing Berjaya candidate Roger Ongkili.

A key emotional call made by Kitingan and his supporters in the by-election campaign to stir Kadazandusun nationalism was the need to fulfil the pledges on the Keningau oath stone.

Lim said with the achievements of the Batu Sumpah installation and the Tambunan “awakening”, it was now time to “make history again” in GE14 by voting in new governments at the federal and state levels to ensure the pledges were complied with.