20 Points: A ‘bomb’ in backburner


(Borneo Post) – Razaleigh reasoned that information on the formation of Malaysia in the public domain were either insufficient or nonexistent at all.

Malaysians in the peninsula are not disrespecting the special rights of Sabah and Sarawak as specified in the Malaysian Agreement but are simply ignorant about the history of the formation of Malaysia, said Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah.

The Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) president, who is affectionately known as Ku Li, said those from Peninsular Malaysia had no intention to purposely belittle or brush aside the issues brought up by the people from the two states in regard to their rights.


However, they lack the knowledge and understanding of historical facts that could enable them to grasp the significance of the issues being raised to Sabah and Sarawak, particularly the 20 Points and the 18 Points.


“From my observation, I think it is not too much to say that most of the people from the middle age group in Sabah and Sarawak do not know much about the formation of Malaysia, let alone the same age group in Semenanjung Malaysia,” he said when delivering his keynote address for the Roundtable Forum on ‘Malaysia and the Non-Fulfillment of the 20-Point Agreement with Sabah’, here, yesterday.


Razaleigh reasoned that information on the formation of Malaysia in the public domain were either insufficient or nonexistent at all.


This absence of information and the consequent ignorance and misconceptions, he said, has caused a lot of tension between Malaysians on the opposite sides of the South China Sea.


Razaleigh, who in May presented a talk on the same topic for the Royal Asiatic Society in Kuala Lumpur, said there had been many complaints voiced out by the people and leaders from Sabah and Sarawak on the issue but they were never taken seriously.


He regretted that the continuing outcry from Sabah and Sarawak on the matter over the years had not encouraged many people to find out and learn about the widely forgotten historical facts despite the availability of the Internet that has made accessing such information much easier.


Among the common misconceptions that irked east Malaysians the most, he noted, was the inaccurate labeling of Sabah and Sarawak as just another two states with the same state status like the 11 member states of Malaya.


Even more saddening, the lack of knowledge was not limited to the people on the ground but also very common among leaders and those with political influences in Peninsular Malaysia, he said.


“Certainly, this misconception is not on purpose but due to poor knowledge. I am confident that this misunderstanding (between east and west Malaysia) is not due to any ill intention or misgivings,” he said.


Razaleigh said Sabah and Sarawak had been voicing their dissatisfaction since the early 80s but the issue was never discussed in official forums and remained a ticking time bomb that could explode and cause chaos at any time.


The current Parliament, like the previous ones, has also seen the 20-Point Agreement being brought up by representatives from Sabah but the issue was not given priority nor debated.


He stressed that the issue must be addressed and all the misconceptions be corrected before they become a much more serious issue that could put the nation’s stability in jeopardy.


He suggested accurate and clear information on the formation of Malaysia, including the role and special rights of Sabah and Sarawak, should be made available and easier to access, by incorporating them into the school curriculum.


“We need to explain that 31 August is not significant to Sabah and Sarawak, no matter how grandeur the celebration. It is only a date when Malaya gained its independence.


“Sept 16, or Hari Malaysia on the other hand, is much more important and should be celebrated as one of the important dates in Malaysia’s history.


“I must also say that even though the 20-Points and 18-Points have been incorporated into the Constitution, it is not befitting to say that these two agreements no longer exist or relevant,” he said.


He noted both documents were supposed to be reviewed 10 years after the formation of Malaysia and a special committee was set up in 1973 to review the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Agreement.


However other pressing matters at that moment prevented the committee from completing the task, and the review was further delayed and eventually forgotten after Tun Dr Ismail, the chairman of the committee, died in 1973 followed by the passing of the then Prime Minister Tun Razak in 1976.


“Tun Razak had a noble intention of preserving the good relationship between Malaya and Sabah/Sarawak, but this goodwill was put on hold due to pressing matters at the time. Perhaps, the review can be reconsidered in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia this year,” he said.