(Borneo Post) - By closely examining its content, he said one would find that it is not wise to continuously highlighting the Twenty Points, firstly because they are no longer relevant and secondly they are embarrassing to Sabahans.
It should be clarified that the “Twenty Points” document was just a memorandum of conditions and not an actual agreement that was signed during the formation of Malaysia.
Former Sabah Archives director Datuk Datu Tigabelas Datu Zainal Abidin said this was important when discussing the matter to avoid confusing the people and the issue being exploited for political gain by certain quarters.
The recently retired archivist said it was regrettable that many individuals debated the Twenty Points based on misinterpretation derived from secondary or even tertiary sources, without referring the actual records, which are available at the State Archives.
“As the custodian of the country’s historic records for almost 13 years, I have inspected and studied various materials pertaining to the Twenty Points, including reports, memorandums, letters, meeting minutes, books, films, photos, news reports, articles and translations that are related to the document and its contents, apart from the Twenty Points document it self.
“Recently, the issue, which had been brought up and debated many times in the past, has resurfaced again. Statements were made by leaders, politicians and individuals, among others to argue whether the Twenty Points is still valid,” he said when met at his residence here, yesterday.
“But it appeared to me that most of them have read or came to know about the document from secondary sources, many seemed to have based their comments and understanding of the Twenty Points on the book ‘Sabah 25 Years Later’ produced in 1988.
“The question is, are we really informed and do we even understand the real content of the Twenty Points, each and every point in that document?” he questioned.
Tigabelas said it must be understood that the British had negotiated with Tanah Melayu through Tunku Abdul Rahman prior to the Twenty Points being drafted and later presented to the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC).
He said the Twenty Points and the Eighteen Points (for Sarawak) were similar, both promotes the strategic interest of the British colonial government in the respective states.
By closely examining its content, he said one would find that it is not wise to continuously highlighting the Twenty Points, firstly because they are no longer relevant and secondly they are embarrassing to Sabahans.
“It is like ‘membuka pekung di dada’ (air one’s dirty laundry in public), pointing out the weaknesses and stupidity of our own past leaders who have submitted the Twenty Points as a condition from Sabah for the formation of Malaysia.
“This is because even though some of the things in the conditions stated in the document has been agreed, most of them are actually bizarre and illogical for us to demand.
“Majority of the people of Sabah and its leaders at the time were eager to form Malaysia, they just wanted to be free from the British and did not care too much if the so-called conditions they are going to demand were actually pre-determined by a third party, which is the British officers, to ensure their own interests are secured after the formation of Malaysia.
“In fact, British officers, namely W.K.H Jones and W.S Holley were in Sabah delegate when the Malaysia Agreement was signed in London on 9 July 1963,” he explained.
Among the peculiar things in the Twenty Points, he said, is the Point 2(a) and (c) that demanded Malay to be the national language of the Federation while English should be the official language of Sabah (North Borneo then) for all purposes State or Federal, without limitation of time.
Point 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10(a), 13(a), 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 are also strange in one way or another as they put Sabah on the losing end by either promoting the interest of British or appeared to be more like a demand made by other states rather than Sabah it self.
“For example, Point 4 which refers to the head of the Federation. Why would our leaders wanted to demand not to be given the rights for the post.
“And Point 5… it was Singapore that was concerned about the name of the Federation and wanted “Malaysia” to be used instead of “Melayu Raya”. We in Sabah did not care about the name at the time, we just wanted our independence,” he argued.
Tigabelas said there is no point for Sabah to raise the issue of Twenty Points almost half a century after the Malaysia Agreement was signed by the founding fathers.
He stressed the Twenty Points was never a valid agreement and no more than a documented proposal that was brought for negotiation during the formation of Malaysia, and what was discussed and agreed were two different things.
“Even Sarawak does not raise their 18 Points any more. Why must we rock “the big boat of marriage” that has been agreed and established by our past leaders almost 50 years ago.
“We must look forward and not backward. We must think as Malaysian now and not as foreigner, or as if we are still under the colonial rule.
“Sabah has developed a lot compared to when we were colonized by the British, we should use the advantages given to us to discuss and negotiate with the federal government any issues or problems we have,” he said.