DAP: Sabah native voters affected by Keningau oath transgressions


KENINGAU: Sabah DAP has predicted that the state’s native voters will be influenced by the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government’s alleged failure to uphold the pledges set on the Keningau Oath Stone in the upcoming 14th general election (GE14).

Its political education director Adrian Lasimbang said that the BN had not lived up to the three guarantees that were inscribed in conjunction with Sabah’s decision to join Malaysia in 1963.

He said the natives, especially those in the interior, had become increasingly aware of the transgressions and had the right not to be loyal to the federal government.

“Looking at this situation, can we blame the interior people if they wanted to stay true to the Oath Stone?” he said after attending a traditional rededication ceremony on a replica of the stone at Keningau district yesterday.

The ceremony, conducted by a native chief from the Sook area in Keningau, was attended by more than 600 people from across the district.

The stone monument was erected to commemorate the terms in which the former British Crown Colony of North Borneo, as Sabah was then known, joined the former colony of Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia.

The three terms etched on it, are on ensuring freedom of religion in Sabah; for the Sabah government to hold authority over land in the state; and for native customs and traditions to be respected and upheld by the federal government.

The oath stated that in return the people of Sabah’s interior would pledge their loyalty to the government of Malaysia.

“Unfortunately, over the years, we have seen the erosion of all three guarantees,” Lasimbang told FMT.

“There are only (these) three things that we want. We don’t need much but even that they have not upheld,” he said.

Lasimbang claimed that the interior folks had not been able to freely profess their religion without Putrajaya’s intervention.

He said the natives, who are mostly Christian and traditionally worship in Malay, had watched in dismay as the government seized Malay-language Bibles because they contained the word ‘Allah’ to describe God.

“Non-Muslims are forbidden to use the word ‘Allah’ but this is not an Islamic teaching. This is the government’s law,” he said, adding that it was the natural way in which they addressed God.

Lasimbang also said the decision to grant the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) some 300,000 acres of prime agricultural land in Lahad Datu meant that the land now belonged to the federal government.

“Losing such valuable land is an unthinkable transgression by the Malaysian government and the people in the interior will not soon forget it,” he said.

The land, planted with oil palm, was granted to Felda by the state government ruled by the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Jelata Sabah (Berjaya) in the 1980s.

Lasimbang also said the native and village chiefs were politically appointed by the government instead of being chosen by the local communities.

“These posts deal with the people’s customs and traditions. Naturally, the holders must know the customs, and their appointments should be done by the people themselves.

“However, the government has bypassed this requirement. They are now appointing people to the posts based on political ideas. We don’t need this political intervention,” he said.