Giving back Sabah its rights


Now, what in particular are those rights of Sabah that are being violated or are not being honoured and respected? Thus far we are reading just general statements about the rights of Sabah not being honoured and respected. But which of these rights are we talking about?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

My previous two articles on Sabah (The unhappiness in Sabah and Sarawak and The enigma called Sabah) have attracted quite a number of comments. Some comments were e-mailed direct to me while I did not publish quite a number of comments that were repetitive.

Two ‘popular’ (and repetitive) comments are (1) that the rights of Sabahans as stipulated under the 20-Point Agreement should be respected, honoured or restored and (2) that Sabah should leave Malaysia and become independent like Singapore and Brunei.

These two statements themselves are contradictory. If you want the 20-Point Agreement to be respected and honoured then Article 7 of that Agreement says: “There should be no right to secede from the Federation”.

So, how can you respect and honour the 20-Point Agreement and at the same time violate it? And when I post a question asking these people under which Article of the 20-Point Agreement or Article of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia are they quoting, they reply that there is no need for any law. Sabah can just leave Malaysia.

I realise there is a lot of anger in Sabah (and to an extent in Sarawak as well). However, if we want to engage then we need to do it intelligently and rationally. Asking to honour and respect an Agreement and at the same time asking to violate that same Agreement and saying that we do not need to follow any laws is not intelligent and rational engagement.

I suspect that some of those who posted comments did not even read the 20-Point Agreement or comprehend what it says. And I would not be surprised because many (especially non-Muslims) also comment on Islam without ever having read the Qur’an or having done a course in Islamic Studies. Yet they comment on Islam as if they are Islamic scholars or ulama’.

Now, what in particular are those rights of Sabah that are being violated or are not being honoured and respected? Thus far we are reading just general statements about the rights of Sabah not being honoured and respected. But which of these rights are we talking about?

You need to be specific. You need to list down all those violations. And you need to quote which Article of the 20-Point Agreement you are referring to. If not you will be just like some Muslims who accuse ‘others’ of attacking Islam and of denying Muslims their rights.

In what way is Islam being attacked and in what way are Muslims being denied their rights? Specifics, please! And also specifics regarding Sabah being denied its rights and the violations to the 20-Point Agreement.

Article 16 of the 20-Point Agreement says that no amendments to the state Constitution of Sabah and Sarawak can be made without a two-thirds or three-quarters majority of the State Assembly.

Have any amendments been made to these state Constitutions without the required majority? Again, the details should be listed down.

Article 10 says that you must be a resident of Sabah and Sarawak for at least five years before citizenship can be granted. And citizens of Sabah and Sarawak are automatically citizens of Malaysia.

I understand that the issue of Sabah citizenship is a sore point and a very explosive issue. Hence we need to do an intensive study into this matter and determine how many of those foreigners who were given Sabah citizenship have not fulfilled the terms of their citizenship. And if there are any violations what do we do with them?

One sensitive point would be what happens when we discover ‘illegal’ citizens (which means they were given citizenship without being a resident for five years) but since then (say since 20 or 30 years ago) they now have children and/or grandchildren who were born in Sabah (or Sarawak)?

Can we deport these ‘illegal citizens’ (the parents or grandparents)? Their children and/or grandchildren are Malaysian citizens since they were born in Malaysia. So we break up the family and deport the parents/grandparents but the children/grandchildren have to remain in Malaysia because they are not Filipinos or Indonesians but are Malaysians since they were born in Malaysia.

We solve one problem but we trigger another. We now break up the families. That would be okay, I suppose, if the children/grandchildren are adults and are earning their own living. But what happens in the case of minors? Do we then round them up and put them in welfare homes or do they now have to become homeless and sleep on the streets and resort to crime to feed themselves?

This is what happens when we do not engage in a rational and intelligent manner. There are implications and repercussions to be considered. And if we are not careful we will just create more problems with our so-called solution. Can we suggest that Malaysian-born Chinese and Indians whose parents or grandparents were not ‘legal’ citizens should be sent back to China or India? That would be a preposterous idea.

And assuming the parents or grandparents are very old (and sick as well) and depend on their children or grandchildren to survive. Do we still send them back to their ‘homeland’? Who will look after them?

On the issue of illegal immigrants (those not yet given Malaysian citizenship) that would be simpler to solve (assuming they do not have Malaysian-born children). Since they do not have Malaysian papers then the government can round them up and put them in transit camps to be ‘processed’ and sent home.

One of the islands off Semporna can be turned into this transit camp. No doubt none of these islands would be deserted but the local inhabitants of these islands would be of the same ethnicity as these illegals. Hence there would not be too much social problems.

The security forces can guard this island to ensure that the illegals do not ‘escape’ while they are being processed and deported. That would probably be the most viable solution other than building new jails or detention centres and jailing these people or treating them like prisoners-of-war.

That may sound drastic but drastic situations require drastic measures. So we may have to treat these people the way the Jews treat the Palestinians if this is what it is going to take to make Sabahans happy.

And if they happen to have Malaysian-born children (who therefore cannot be sent back to Philippines or Indonesia) then the government will have to build ‘orphanages’ for these tens of thousands (or maybe even hundreds of thousands) of children who no longer have parents.

That may sound cruel but then if this is what Sabahans want then this is what Sabahans should get. In some countries homeless children earn a good living as child prostitutes. Maybe this will be a good tourist attraction for Sabah when thousands of children are made homeless once their parents are deported.