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Yes, let’s not rewrite history
Published on: Sunday, October 08, 2017

By Tan Sri Herman Luping
Deputy Chief Minister Y.B Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah has challenged PKR Tun Mohammed Mahathir to recognise the existing rights of Sabah/Sarawak from the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

MA63, as the Minister said, is not a sale and purchase agreement that can be changed and rewritten.

Once agreed and signed it cannot be changed.

The 1963 Malaysia Agreement was a solemn desire by three countries – Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya – to work together as equal partners in Malaysia and that the two Borneo states should not be seen as colonial offshoots of the peninsula.

No one is subservient to anyone else. This is embedded in MA63.

I agree with the Minister on this, we should not be re-writing our history as if this did not happen.

Right from the very beginning Tun Fuad Stephens, Tun Mustafa and Datuk Khoo Siak Chew felt they were joining the Federation of Malaysia, not becoming a part of Malaya.

Tun Ghazali Saffie was the chief negotiator for the whole agreement and he made a survey of the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak and was a part of the Cobbold commission that asked the people of Borneo whether they wanted to be part of Malaysia.

He was depended on by the peninsula leaders Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak.

At the time Stephens wrote a very long article in the newspaper outlining the 20 points that had, been agreed by the parties.

He stated at the time that these were no longer under discussion.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, especially during Mahathir’s time, the sense was that Borneo had to “toe the line” of what Kuala Lumpur wanted.

Sabah and Sarawak’s leaders have always pointed out that they are countries in their own rights, not just 2 parts of 13 states. It is three nations together.

There was a time in our past when there was a tendency among leaders of West Malaysia to consider themselves the masters rather than equal partners with the leaders from Borneo.

Civil servants from West Malaysia, in particular, have tended to act as colonial masters and have seemed to see their jobs as replacing the Europeans who had preceded them.

MA63 was supposed to be a step forward in the development of the Borneo states, not a transfer of ownership from one colonial master to the other.

In my opinion, it was not politicians from Kuala Lumpur, like Tun Razak and Tunku Abdul Rahman, who wanted to consider us as juniors, it seemed to come more from senior civil servants.

It led to a great deal of misunderstanding and Stephens got very angry at it and published a statement in the newspaper re-stating that Sabah was an equal partner.

When Stephens resigned as a Minister in the Federal Govt and came back to Sabah in the 1960s, his first statement was to say that he was coming back to lead Sabah again as an equal partner with Malaya and to fight for the rights of Sabah.

The same thing happened with Sarawak with Tun Rahman Ya’kub, who became the Chief Minister at that time.

Successive Chief Ministers in Sabah and Sarawak have continued with this understanding.

Happily, now even the present Prime Minister is acknowledging the fact that the Federation of Malaysia was of three equal states, Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya. No-one is subservient, and no-one is on top.

I agree heartily with the Deputy Chief Minister that nothing should be renegotiated.

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