Last Updated: 8:11am, Jun 26, 2014
MELBOURNE (June 26): The call for the 1963 Malaysia Agreement to be upheld as a means to resolving the problems of Sabah and Sarawak is gaining momentum in the two states, says Sabah politician Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
An online forum in Sabah has reportedly found that 90% of respondents chose to “leave the Malaysian Federation” in order to end the issues of poverty, poor infrastructure and influx of foreigners that have long plagued their state.
Secession however is considered treason and carries severe penalties.
Kitingan, who was jailed in the 1990s on this very charge, is keen that Sabahans avoid that route and has made an unusual suggestion to the chief minsters of both states in order to prevent this.
In his opinion, a Sabah-Sarawak tag team will have the power to force Putrajaya to honour the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
The Bingkor state assemblyman pointed out that despite the federal government’s control over the vote bank, it was Sabah and Sarawak that kept it in power.
“Political support in the peninsula is equally split so we are the kingmakers,” he told a forum titled ‘Malaysia at the Crossroads in Melbourne on Tuesday. “If we cross over, they are finished.”
In fact, we have (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak under our thumb) but East Malaysian leaders are not (pressing down on him). Their minds have been twisted to believe that they are (under Najib’s thumb) instead."
Kitingan, who is also the chairman of the Borneo Heritage Foundation, suggested that Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, propose a collaboration to Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman with the aim of bringing Najib to the negotiation table.
“If Najib doesn’t agree they could threaten to take away his premiership,” he said. “And they’re in a position to do that. It has never happened before in our history. The question is whether Musa would be brave enough to take Adenan’s phone call.”
Adenan, who was sworn in as chief minister earlier this year, has been hailed in the political circles as someone who has what it takes to stand up to Putrajaya. This was recently seen in Adenan's request for Sarawak's oil royalty be increased from 5% to 20%.
Kitingan also said that the main difference between Sabah and Sarawak’s positions is Umno's presence in the former and not the latter.
“Sarawak can assert its authority and demand that the Malaysia Agreement be implemented,” he said. “But not Sabah. I raised the matter in the recent Legislative Assembly and was attacked by Umno members for it.”
“But I’ve seen the change in Sarawak’s position. It is assertive because it knows it has enough seats to single-handedly topple the government. And the government hasn’t criticised its assertiveness.
“When Adenan made the royalty demand, Najib said he would give it due consideration. Whether that happens depends on whether Musa will stand up to make the same demand. But Musa is an Umno man," he added.
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