PETALING JAYA: No matter what the cost may be, to send a team to the UK would be worth it if it meant Sabah and Sarawak would finally get all the rights promised in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
This was stated by Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) spokesperson Peter John Jaban.
He, along with other East Malaysian activists, have slammed Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub for labelling Sarawak’s legal mission to London as “senseless and a waste of public funds”.
Salahuddin, who was already under fire for suggesting that the legal mission could invite foreign intervention, waded further into controversy yesterday by questioning the cost of the mission.
He had also said the rights of Sarawak, regarding sovereignty, economy, immigration and other matters, were already clearly spelt out in MA63.
“Sarawak has been short-changed long enough. We are considered the richest state in terms of revenue and resources, but ultimately we are one of the poorest,” Peter told FMT.
“We have been quiet about this for a long time. So it’s about time we do all we can to fight for our rights.”
He also pointed out that it wouldn’t cost much to send a few lawyers to the UK, especially as autonomy and state rights are two of the most important subjects for the people of Sarawak.
“And it’s never a waste to spend money for research purposes,” he added. “It’s what we Sarawakians want.”
‘Salahuddin a liability to PKR, DAP’
Meanwhile, MA63 activist Zainnal Ajamain said Salahuddin’s comments showed that the opposition in Peninsular Malaysia simply didn’t know the sentiments of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
“The more Amanah blindly attacks Sarawak for this very important mission, the more the support for PKR and DAP will be affected in Sabah.
“If Amanah is looking to sabotage PKR’s and DAP’s chances in Sabah, then Salahuddin is doing a fine job.”
Zainnal said Salahuddin should be ashamed to call himself a Malaysian when his comments showed his lack of concern for Sabah and Sarawak.
“The cost of sending a legal team to London is minuscule compared with the amount of money the federal government rakes in from Sabah and Sarawak through our natural resources.”
Zainnal, who has been studying the MA63 issue for 15 years and authored a book on it called “The Queen’s Obligation”, said given the chance, he too would like to look at the documents in London, which were only available there.
He said the documents in London, which included previously classified documents, were among the 200,000 documents relating to the formation of Malaysia.
“We need to know what they were thinking when they decided to create Malaysia. Does Salahuddin know what this means? If he doesn’t, he should keep quiet.
“Anyway, (Sarawak chief minister) Abang Johari (Openg) isn’t spending money donated by Putrajaya or Johor. It’s money from Sarawak and I am sure the people in Sarawak will support such expenses.
“I know that here in Sabah, we fully support what is being done by the Sarawak government.”
‘Salahuddin must speak to an East Malaysian to understand’
Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Darell Leiking advised Salahuddin to speak to an East Malaysian, particularly one who is well versed in MA63, to gain a better understanding of the matter.
“MA63 is an internationally recognised agreement. In an agreement or contract, it is normal for parties to the contract to want to review the contract to see if the terms and conditions of the contract have been fulfilled.
“In the case of MA63, this includes the fact-finding process to determine the spirit of the agreement and if it has been adhered to. This can only be done by analysing the thousands of documents which preceded the MA63.”
The Penampang MP said these documents could only be found in London, so it was necessary for the legal mission to go there.
Leiking said this was why he disagreed with Salahuddin’s remarks on the legal mission or that it was a waste of funds.
“I think my friend Salahuddin doesn’t really comprehend the MA63 topic and the issues surrounding it.”
Abang Johari had recently announced that a legal team, led by State Assistant Law, Federal-State Relations and Project Monitoring Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali would go to London to search for and scrutinise any references related to the state’s rights under MA63.
Following Abang Johari’s announcement, Warisan, a state-based opposition party, called on the Sabah government to join hands with Sarawak by sending its own legal team to London.
A contentious issue for decades, MA63 has become one of the core issues in Sabah and Sarawak in recent times, especially after former Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem sought the return of the state’s rights and powers enshrined in the MA63.