Self-determination and the oil royalty


Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is at the most critical stage of his political career. The question being asked is whether he will still be Prime Minister come the next general election expected around 2018 or so, or will someone else be leading Barisan Nasional in that general election?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Crimea’s parliament has formally declared independence from Ukraine and has asked to join the Russian Federation. It follows Sunday’s referendum in which officials say nearly 97% of Crimeans voted to break away from Ukraine. — BBC (READ MORE HERE)

In six months time, on 18th September 2014, Scotland, too, will be holding a referendum as to whether Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom or become an independent country. Currently, it is still 50:50 because there are various economic and monetary issues to resolve.

First would be what will Scotland use for currency? If it cannot continue to use the Pound Sterling then it would need to create its own currency. And will the Scottish Pound increase in value (like what happened to the Singapore Dollar when Singapore split from Malaysia) of will it be the other way around?

Secondly would be the North Sea oil. Scotland would no longer need to share its oil with Britain but will own the oil entirely. If the price of oil goes up Scotland can then sell the oil to Britain at a higher price and this will affect the British economy. If the price of oil goes down, however, then Scotland will have to lose money and its economy will be affected instead.

A divorce is never easy. It can sometimes become messy and the adage that two can live cheaper than one would be very appropriate here. But sometimes when there are irreconcilable differences and interests have deviated so far then a divorce is really no longer avoidable.

Malaysia faced the same problem with Singapore almost 50 years ago back in August 1965.  And the divorce happened merely two years after the creation of Malaysia in September 1963. It was certainly a very short marriage indeed.

The marriage was supposed to have been between Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. And the reason Britain wanted this marriage to happen was to offset the possibility that the Domino Theory is a real danger and that the entire region would fall to Communism. Hence a united Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei would be strong enough to fight against the Communist threat.

Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma did suffer the fate predicted by the West. But it stopped there. Thailand did not also suffer that same fate and hence Malaysia was spared Communist domination. Thailand, in a way, was the buffer zone that saved Malaysia. Hence the reason for the creation of Malaysia (to save it from Communism) no longer applied.

Brunei proved it made the right decision of not joining Malaysia. It is now extremely rich because it did not join Malaysia and if it had joined Malaysia it would be as poor or poorer than Sabah and Sarawak.

Brunei is so rich, in fact, that the people do not care that the country is ruled by an absolute monarchy. Wealth is more important than a democratically elected government. After all, democratically elected governments do not always mean it is better for the country. Sometimes the opposite may be true.

Singapore, too, proved that its decision of leaving Malaysia to become an independent country like Brunei was a good decision. Of course, when we talk about how much better Brunei and Singapore are, we are merely talking about the state of the economy rather than about civil liberties and human rights, which may not necessarily be better in those two countries (it depends on the yardstick you are using as a comparison — for example, gays are still not welcome in those two countries).

WikiSabah reported that the new Chief Minister of Sarawak is going to ask the Federal Government to increase the state’s oil royalty from 5% to 20% (READ HERE). The Sabah politicians are also talking about the same thing for their state although the Sabah Chief Minister has not said so officially (but we all know this is what they want as well).

The Federal Government may have to seriously consider this possibility. All over the world people are having new ideas about autonomy and self-rule. Sabah is crying out for its 20-Point Agreement to be honoured and Sarawak for its 18-Point Agreement to be honoured as well. This is no longer an issue that can be swept under the carpet in the hope that people will soon forget about it.

And, of course, if the Federal Government considers an increase in the oil royalty for Sabah and Sarawak, it will have to be considered for the other states as well, Terengganu in particular (which almost fell to the opposition in May last year).

Barisan Nasional, Umno in particular, rules at the pleasure of Sabah and Sarawak. This, no one would deny. Sabah and Sarawak are what we call Barisan Nasional’s ‘fixed deposit’. But this can change at any time. And it will change if the voters from Sabah and Sarawak continue to feel they are being given a raw deal by being part of Malaysia.

Sabah and Sarawak may not go to the extreme of the Crimea and Scotland in holding a referendum on whether to remain in Malaysia. This can only happen if what happened in the Crimea also happens in Sabah and Sarawak (meaning Indonesia sends its army to help Sabah and Sarawak break away from Malaysia like what the Russians did in the Crimea).

If that happens Malaysia will be in a state of war with Indonesia and a war that Malaysia will lose, especially if Singapore sides with Indonesia against Malaysia (which might happen because it is safer for Singapore to side with the more powerful Indonesia than the weaker Malaysia).

The West says that if the next Great War does happen it will happen in the South China Sea. They are, of course, talking about the threat of China here. The next Great War might just happen but the trigger may not be the Spratly Islands as expected but the ‘war of independence’ in East Malaysia that eventually extends to the power struggle over the oil wealth in the South China Sea. And countries have gone to war for even smaller reasons than that.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is at the most critical stage of his political career. The question being asked is whether he will still be Prime Minister come the next general election expected around 2018 or so, or will someone else be leading Barisan Nasional in that general election?

Even if Najib is no longer going to be around in 2018 it will not be Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who will be leading the charge. He, too, wants to retire because he knows that the future may be quite bleak for Barisan Nasional unless some major and drastic reforms are implemented. And Muhyiddin feels that Umno does not have the political will to execute these reforms and if Najib does try then Umno will turn on him and oust him before Christmas this year.

So, don’t be surprised if Umno turns on Najib that it will be Zahid Hamidi who will be Malaysia’s next Prime Minister. Why do you think PAS and PKR are talking to him about the unity government in their meeting in London during Christmas of last year? They have forecasted that Zahid is going to be the new top dog if Najib falls.

Najib may have to do some unpopular things if he wants to be around for the 2018 general election. First he needs to revamp his entire Cabinet. The entire bunch of jokers will need to go and a whole new team is required to run the country properly. If Najib retains the current bunch then he is going to be in deep shit. In fact, most of the people surrounding him are plotting his downfall.

Remember what happened to Julius Caesar? That is the situation Najib is currently in.

Next he has to make Sabah and Sarawak happy. These two states have not reached the level of the Crimea or Scotland but their sentiments are not far from that. They will need to feel they are not being treated unfairly and it may have to start with the oil royalty followed by the 18/20-Point Agreements.

And this is only the start. Like it or not reforms are required. And if you do not implement these reforms then be prepared for a surprise come 2018. That is only four years from now. And in four years, if I am still alive, I will be celebrating my 68th birthday. And if Najib is not careful I will be celebrating my 68th birthday in Kuala Lumpur.

No, this is not an anti-government or anti-opposition article. This is what I feel may happen if those who walk in the corridors of power are not careful. You are, of course, at liberty to prove me wrong.