KOTA KINABALU: A political activist has questioned Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s right to presume that the people of Sabah and Sarawak want autonomy and not independence.
“This is our land and we get to determine what we want for our future, not Putrajaya,” said Zainnal Ajamain, who champions the two territories’ rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He spoke to FMT in response to remarks the prime minister made at a dinner with Malaysians in New York last week. Mahathir was quoted as saying that Sabahans and Sarawakians “never asked for independence, but they asked for autonomy over certain matters. So we are granting them that autonomy.”
Zainnal claimed he knew for certain that the people of the two states, in aspiring for self-determination, no longer cared what the administrations of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching believed would be the right thing to do.
“The people are restless and can no longer put their trust in politicians,” he said. “They are of the view that politicians are politicising the MA63 issue too much and they are done with tolerating such actions.
“Putrajaya can hope for an amicable solution only if it tries to talk to the people directly.”
He accused the prime minister’s office of trying to mislead the people with an article on its website that places less emphasis on MA63 than on the so-called 20 Points, which refers to a list drawn up by North Borneo in its proposal of terms for its incorporation into the Malaysian federation as the state of Sabah.
Point 7 of the memorandum states that Sabah shall have no right to secede from the federation.
Zainnal said Putrajaya, by emphasising the 20 Points and de-emphasising MA63, was obviously trying to twist the issue of Sabah and Sarawak rights to fit its agenda. “And I blame this on Sabah leaders like Jeffrey Kitingan, who have been promoting the 20 Points for years,” he said in reference to the president of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku.
He said the 20 Points was not a valid agreement because it was signed by administrators of the British colony of North Borneo and not endorsed by either the British government or the intended target, the Federation of Malaya.
Zainnal’s argument was supported by Michael Peter Goviind, who chairs Warisan’s MA63 Bureau.
Goviind told FMT the 20 Points held no power over the people of Sabah as far as his party was concerned.
“The same idea is held by the current state government,” he said. “For Warisan, MA63 and its supporting documents are the only valid documents upon which any discussion should be based.”