con·tem·po·rar·y - Modern times in its generic sense, living, occurring, or existing, at the same time; often also used as a synonym for "modern" Ma·lay·sia - A country of southeast Asia consisting of the southern Malay Peninsula and the northern part of the island of Borneo.

Taken from Uncle Lim’s blog

A hostile posting in yesterday’s thread “Fulfilment of 30-year dream of Sabahans in the hands of Sabah BN MPs” reminded me that the first time I raised the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah was exactly 30 years ago.

I referred to this in my speech in Kota Kinabalu at the 37th DAP anniversary dinner on 4th July 2003, which is worth revisiting, viz:

This is the 40th anniversary of Sabah when together with Sarawak and Singapore, Malaysia was formed in 1963 from an expanded Malaya. It is also a time for an assessment of the successes and failures of nationhood and political development in the past four decades in Sabah.

There is probably no better start for such an assessment than an encounter with a taxi-driver in Kota Kinabalu. In the past few days, the planes are beginning to be full again, hotel room occupancy rates up and travel business and local economy starting to revive after the crippling effects of the SARS outbreak.

But the comment of a Kota Kinabalu taxi-driver was most perceptive and meaningful, when he posed the question: “What is the SARS outbreak for three months when the people of Sabah had been suffering from SARS for seven long years!”

I was at first mystified by what the taxi-driver meant, whether Sabah had secretly been the victim of the fatal SARS outbreak for seven long years without the knowledge of the people in Malaysia , the world and the WHO!

The taxi-driver enlightened me that the SARS outbreak which had afflicted Sabah for seven years is not the frightening new disease which had killed hundreds of people in China, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia but stands for “Saham Amanah Rakyat Sabah” syndrome!

In 1996, the then Sabah Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee persuaded 57,000 Sabahans to invest in SAS – Saham Amanah Sabah – convincing them that it was a great buy which would multiply its value twice or thrice its original price of one ringgit! Today, SAS has reached the point of no return, dropped from RM1 to below 20 sen, with some telling me that it is now worth only 19 sen while others putting it as low as 12 sen – incurring over RM400 million losses!

DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng and the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan had just given a multimedia presentation of the great deterioration of law and order in the country resulting in the high rate of crime and the fear of crime, recently illustrated by the brutal Canny Ong abduction-rape-murder in Kuala Lumpur, marking the end of an era of public security and citizen safety in the streets, public spaces and even homes.

Sabah lost that innocence more than 30 years ago – when Sabah was transformed from a very safe and law-abiding state where people had no qualms or fears to leave their houses unlocked because of a non-existing crime rate to a a very unsafe place because of the influx of illegal immigrants.

The following judgment could serve as a verdict of 40 years of nationhood and development in Sabah:

“The management of Sabah’s resources, civil service and political situation are among the factors contributing to the state’s lackluster economic performance. Sabah was once a wealthy state but it has reached a point of no return and is now in the same economic league as Kelantan.”

This indictment of 40 years of development of Sabah did not come from the DAP or the Opposition but was made by an UMNO national leader who would have been the country’s Finance Minister if he had not lost the 1999 general election – Datuk Mustapha Mohamad, now the National Economic Action Council executive director at a dialogue at Universiti Malaysia Sabah in Kota Kinabalu in February this year!

Sabah has reached such economic doldrums not because of inefficient and bungling Opposition rule – but after nine years of Barisan Nasional government with its special brand of rotation of the post of Sabah Chief Minister.

Sabah is a special state and has a long list of “firsts”, though many with dubious honour, in Malaysia.

One such dubious “first” is in having the most number of Chief Ministers in the past 40 years as compared, for instance, with Sarawak – both of which joined together to form Malaysia 40 years ago. In the past 40 years, Sarawak had four Chief Ministers but Sabah had as many as 13 Chief Ministers!

Having so many Chief Ministers should be a blessing and a boon to the people of Sabah, in particular seven Chief Ministers in the past nine years, if Chief Ministers competed as to who can serve the people and state better – but it would undeniably be a curse for Sabah if so many Chief Ministers in so short a span of time only resulted in the competition as to who could serve themselves and their cronies better at the expense of the people and the state.

Barisan Nasional’s rotation of the Sabah Chief Minister system has proved to be a double disaster for Sabah. It was introduced by the Barisan Nasional as a gambit to wrest state power from the PBS of Datuk Seri Josteph Pairin Kitingan, allegedly to prove a higher commitment to the principles of multi-racialism and political pluralism.

It has not worked out as promised as in the past nine years, there had been four Chief Ministers from UMNO, two Chinese Chief Ministers claiming to represent the Chinese community, while the Kadazandusun community had only one Chief Minister who lasted only 14 months!

The system of rotation of the post of Sabah Chief Minister has left the people and state of Sabah even more worse-off with every rotation.

When I came to Sabah in the seventies, I highlighted three burning issues close to the heart of the people - the issues of illegal immigrants, corruption and democracy!

In all these three issues, the situation today is even worse than they were three decades ago. In fact, democracy in Sabah had gone back by some 20 years, with the Sabah State Assembly reduced to a one-party chamber where the voice, grievances and aspirations of the ordinary people could no more be heard! To restore democracy, the people of Sabah have to go back 20 years to the “Spirit of Tambunan” in the Tambunan by-election in 1984 marking the the beginning of an awakening and commitment to end unpopular rule, corruption and misgovernance in the state.

The issue of illegal immigrants has become so serious over the decades that it has fundamentally altered the demographic, political, economic and even constitutional landscape in the state, to the extent that many Sabahans are very disturbed and alienated that the majority of the state’s population of 2.6 million are not genuine Sabahans or Malaysians!

Kota Kinabalu, for instance, has become the capital of unaccountability, untransparency and bad governance not only in Sabah but also in Malaysia. The scandal of the most exorbitant municipal car-parking rates remained unresolved, as despite the various adjustments to the regime of the highest car-parking rates in the country topping RM38.50 a day, the KK Municipal Council is slated to up its overall car-park collection by 30%.

From Wisma Merdeka to Centrepoint, there are 22 Twentieth Century Lamp-posts which are the symbols of Kota Kinabalu as the capital of unaccountability, untransparency and bad governance in Malaysia – as they cost the people RM2.1 million or RM46,000 each when their cost was only RM5,000 each.

But there can be no more blatant symbol of Kota Kinabalu as the capital of unaccountability, untransparency and bad governance than the outrageous scandal of the closure of a public road for a private purpose, the closure of the Jalan Jati for the Sugar Bun operation.

Although the issue has been taken to court in a legal challenge as to the legality of the closure of Jalan Jati by the KK Municipality for a private purpose, I find it most shocking that this issue has remained unresolved whether by the KK Municipality or the Sabah State Government for the past four years since mid-2000.

I am not talking about the law, but the public morality and good governance of the decision. The refusal of the authorities concerned to revoke the closure of Jalan Jati and return it from private use to common public use is the height of unaccountability, untransparency and bad governance of the Kota Kinabalu Municipality and the Sabah State Government.

A survey and assessment of the political development and nation building of Sabah in the past 40 years reminds one of the imagery of swarm of locusts laying barren a rich and verdant land – that in the past 40 years, Sabah had been had been laid bare by swarms of “political locusts” downgrading it from a “once wealthy state to the same economic league as Kelantan” reaching “a point of no return”!

This is why the forthcoming Sabah state general election and the 11th national general election are so critical and unlike previous general elections – for the voters of Kota Kinabalu and Sabah must unite to open up Jalan Jati, open up Kota Kinabalu, open up Sabah and open up Malaysia to democracy, justice, fair play and good governance!

There is a further reason why the coming elections are two crucial tests for democracy and nation-building in Sabah and Malaysia – as the very basis of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement which constitutes the basis for the formation of Malaysia is facing unprecedented challenge.

The Cobbold Commission Report 1963, the founding document of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, published the memorandum which was submitted by the Donald Stephens as Chairman of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee on 23rd February 1962, which said: “It is satisfied that the acceptance of Islam as the religion of the Federation would not endanger religious freedom within Malaysia nor will it make Malaysia a State less secular”.

The “929 Declaration” by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic State goes against the very fundamentals of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement of a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation where Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State – whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.

The fathers of the Merdeka Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement were not anti-Islam or any religion when they declared Islam as the official religion would not in anyway undermine or compromise the secular basis and character of multi-religious Malaysia – that “it will make Malaysia a State less secular”.

This is the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone which has been challenged by the “929 Declaration” and why Sabahans should stand in the very forefront with all other like-minded Malaysians to defend and uphold the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement to preserve, defend and uphold the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis and character of Sabah and Malaysia.

Taken from Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah MPs should consider supporting the planned DAP motion for the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants in the Parliament.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Supreme Council member Dr Chong Eng Leong said that the recently-completed Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Judiciary, among others, had allegedly implicated former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the irregular appointment of judges.

"Since Project ICs issued to foreigners in Sabah was also referred to as Project Mahathir (refer to my 1999 Likas Election Petition trial, my papers to Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity in 2006 and my papers to Suhakam Roundtable Discussion on Illegal Immigrants in 2006) may be a Royal Commission of Inquiry might also implicate Mahathir or vindicate him," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chong said a week after the last general election, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admitted that "he had heard what the people wanted him to hear".

"He must have heard peninsula voices only because the near 100 per cent MP seats from Sabah and Sarawak given to BN did not receive rewards appropriately," he said.

"It seems our PM's only concern is peninsula. Look at our Sabahans repeated appeal and begging him to listen to our cry for help to solve our security cum sovereignty within Malaysia due to the huge number of illegal immigrants and project IC holders.

"The PM had personally heard me saying in 2001 in Dewan Maksak Likas that foreigners could get Malaysian ICs very easily. But nothing concrete has come out of this," he said.

Dr Chong said the promise in 2006 for a large scale operations like the Ops Nyah II to flush out paperless foreigners also did not happen.

He said the announcement for two more detention centres for illegal immigrants to be built in Sabah in 2006 remained mere words and it was again announced when the PM was in Sabah as if it was something new.

Dr Chong who is PBS Luyang chief said Abdullah had in October last year said, "We do not want to pretend and say that everything is okay. We do not want to be in a state of denial. Tell the truth, even if it is painful.

"But the PM did not practice what he preached. He did not want to hear the truth about Project IC or Project Mahathir in Sabah by the fact that the National Registration Department was directed not to answer the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity on questions regarding this project," he said.

He added that Sabah BN components had sent memoranda to the Prime Minister on this issue "but did he ever read them?"

"If not, did he assign somebody to read them and then be briefed on the contents of the memoranda? Sabah BN component besides Suhakam, NGOs and individuals had on umpteen times asked for Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants but our PM brushed it aside," he said.

Instead, Dr Chong said the Prime Minister pushed the matter to the Federal Cabinet Committee on Illegal Immigrants headed by the Deputy Prime Minister of the day, a Committee formed in 2000 but so far only held one meeting.

The outcome of that meeting on May 2006 was to form a special court to handle cases involving illegal immigrants, he said.

"Did this also materialise?" he asked.

Looks like it’s either Do or Die for Tun Mahathir now. News taken from here.

A LEOPARD never changes its spots.

Nearly 40 years ago as a young Umno rebel, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad went on a tirade against the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Dr Mahathir cleverly used the race angle, accusing the Tunku of failing to protect and promote the interests of the Malays.

He was sacked by Umno, a move which made him a hero with the Malay community. When the Tunku resigned in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots, his successor Tun Abdul Razak not only brought Dr Mahathir back to the party but also paved the way for him to become Umno president and prime minister in 1981.

Dr Mahathir is now hoping to topple the current Umno president and prime minister by playing the same game — adopting the race angle and hoping to stoke fear and anger among the Malays against Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Just listen to the speeches he has been giving since the March 8 elections, the latest last week in Johor when he said the Malays were losing their grip on power. At a gathering of some 1,000 people, he said: “If we don’t speak up, if we choose to keep quiet, we will lose our rights and the other races will take over.”

On his blog, he recently wrote: “Today, the Malays have lost their political power and the non-Malays no longer respect the Malays and the Malay institutions. All the special rights of the Malays are being challenged and questioned. And the Malays cannot do anything to strengthen their position.”

The fact is power in this country is still very much in the control of the Malays and will remain so and no non-Malay would dare challenge Malay institutions like the royalty. In fact, the last time we checked, the only person who had done anything against the Malay royalty was Dr Mahathir himself when he was the all powerful prime minister who tolerated no challenge to his authority and views.

But obviously Dr Mahathir will not let facts get in the way of his fear mongering and his current goal to knock out Abdullah.

Dr Mahathir was hoping that the Umno leadership would sack him like they did in 1969, but Abdullah has learnt from the Tunku. He didn’t want to make Dr Mahathir a hero or trigger a wave of sympathy for him.

Frustrated that Abdullah did not sack him, Dr Mahathir on Monday decided to quit Umno and swore to return only when Abdullah is no longer the leader. He also urged Umno members to follow him.

Throughout his political career, Dr Mahathir is obsessed with only what suits him and will do anything to try and get what he wants. The consequences didn’t matter. Everything and everybody else is collateral damage.

Be it the tension that led to May 13, 1969; the political infighting in Umno that ended with the 1987 arrest under the ISA of over 100 people and the sacking of six top judges just as the court was set to hear an Umno appeal case; to the vicious 1998 crackdown on his then deputy and supporters, one common theme stood out — Dr Mahathir had to get what he wanted. Everything and everybody else is collateral damage.

It’s the same with his latest move to resign from Umno and his use of the race card to attack Abdullah’s leadership.

Dr Mahathir doesn’t care if Umno, already reeling from the aftershock of the March 8 elections, plunges into turmoil.

Dr Mahathir doesn’t care that his racist attempts to ignite the anger of the Malays will create unnecessary tension.

Dr Mahathir will resort to anything to get what he wants. Everything and everybody else — including Malaysia and the people of Malaysia — is collateral damage.

He has succeeded in the past.

This time, we must not let him get away with it.

Umno and its members must not end up as collateral damage to enable Dr Mahathir to get what he wants.

The rakyat and the country must not end up as collateral damage just so that Dr Mahathir can get what he wants.

Tun Musa Hitam said on Monday that the era of Mahathirism was over. The people of Malaysia must show in an emphatic way that it is by rejecting Dr Mahathir’s latest stunt and use of the race card.

No wonder-lah the BN cancelled the use of inedible ink at the last minute prior to the 12th General Election. Article below taken from The Edge.

SINGAPORE: De facto opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to cancel the use of indelible ink five days before the March 8 general election had caused the opposition coalition to lose 15 seats.

He also alleged that the manipulation of postal votes cost the opposition another 10 seats.

Reiterating his stance that the processes of the March 8 general election were unfair, Anwar said that he has learnt that the Barisan Nasional-led (BN) government decided to do away with the indelible ink when they realised that the opposition was edging close to a simple majority.

“The decision came about as the government knew the opposition was edging towards a simple majority and the PM decided to cancel the use of the indelible ink.

“I was in India a few weeks ago and they could not believe that a decision to cancel the use of the ink was made five days before the general election,” Anwar told a packed audience of merchant bankers, fund managers and leaders of corporations during a luncheon talk at a conference organised by CLSA in Singapore yesterday.

Replying to a question on moral and ethical issues that were raised by Umno-led BN should their elected members of parliament (MPs) decide to defect, Anwar said that it was morally indefensible for the elected representatives to support the present regime.

On the question of Dr Mahathir leaving Umno, Anwar said that the former Umno president and prime minister no longer wielded as much influence in the party as before.

“But the question that will be asked is, was he a fair prime minister? His reason for leaving Umno was because he felt the party had failed to champion the Malay rights. This is not tenable,” he said.

Anwar also questioned the logic behind Dr Mahathir’s condition of rejoining Umno after Abdullah has been replaced.

“This means (Abdullah) can be replaced with any other corrupt person for him to rejoin the party,” he said.

Anwar called on the friends of the opposition in Umno not to leave the party but to support the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat in pursuing their Malaysian Economic Agenda (MEA). He said that before the general election, only Umno was seen as being able to bring about reforms in the system. But that has changed with the elections which showed the opposition can form a viable alternative.

He said that the MEA was a well thought out plan and it took the opposition about 18 months to two years to come out with it and it had been generally accepted by the Malays.

“A substantial number of urban and semi-urban (Malays) supported us, knowing fully well the MEA is to dismantle the present NEP,” he said.

On the question of the expectations of PAS on matters relating to gambling and casino operations should the opposition come to power, Anwar said that the Islamic party has accepted the constitutional guarantees of the country and has participated in the democratic process.

“The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the rule of law. These are in the MEA. We have no problems in the five states ruled by the opposition,” said Anwar.

Taken from here

Hari ini, Mei 19, 2008 saya mengumumkan keputusan saya untuk keluar daripada UMNO. Isteri saya turut bersama.

Keputusan ini dibuat kerana UMNO yang ada sekarang bukan lagi UMNO yang ditubuh 62 tahun dahulu yang berjuang untuk bangsa Melayu, Agama Islam dan Negara Malaysia (Malaya); UMNO yang menggagalkan Malayan Union, memperjuangkan kemerdekaan Malaya dan Malaysia dan membangunkan Malaysia sehingga menjadi Negara yang termaju di antara Negara membangun di dunia.

UMNO yang ada sekarang hanya wujud untuk menyokong Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, keluarganya dan tindakan serta dasar yang tidak secocok dengan kepentingan bangsa, agama dan negara.

Kepimpinan Dato Seri Abdullah jelas membawa kekalahan dan bencana kepada Barisan Nasional, UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan dan PPP. Kemenangan UMNO di Sabah dan BN di
Sarawak bukan kerana kepimpinan Dato Seri Abdullah.

Saya akan jelas satu persatu dasar-dasar dan tindakan Dato Seri Abdullah yang menjadikan Kerajaan pimpinannya dan parti BN dibenci oleh ahli-ahli parti komponen sendiri.

Walaupun sebelum perisytiharan ini saya adalah ahli UMNO tetapi sebenarnya selepas saya letak jawatan sebagai Perdana Menteri saya tidak dilayan sebagai ahli UMNO.

Saya tidak dibenarkan berjumpa ahli UMNO dan ahli UMNO tidak dibenarkan hadir apa-apa perhimpunan di mana saya dijemput sebagai jurucakap atau penyampai ucapan.

Menteri-Menteri yang dahulu berada dalam Kabinet saya tidak dibenarkan atau tidak berani atau tidak mahu jumpa saya lagi.

Jemputan oleh UMNO dan bukan UMNO kepada saya diarah ditarik balik oleh Mneteri Besar dan Polis.

Ramai pemimpin UMNO melepaskan kata-kata kesat kepada saya dan ada yang menyuruh saya keluar daripada UMNO walaupun mereka baru sahaja masuk UMNO. Tidak ada pemimpin UMNO yang pertahankan saya secara terbuka.

Wakil ke Perhimpunan Agong tidak dibenarkan menyuara pendapat mereka. Mulut semua orang ditutup.

Yang didengar hanyalah media arus perdana yang memuji Dato Seri Abdullah sehingga dia percaya dia begitu popular dan akan sapu bersih parti lawan dalam pilihanraya umum ke-12.

Hasilnya ialah kekalahan yang teruk bagi Barisan Nasional. Malangnya mesej yang hendak disampaikan oleh pengundi dan penyokong BN tidak dapat difahami oleh Dato Seri Abdullah.

Dia masih berkata dia menang. Ini sukar diterima oleh orang Kedah, orang Pulau Pinang, orang Perak, Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan.

Oleh kerana Dato Seri Abdullah buta mata dan pekak telinga dan tidak faham mesej ahli BN, oleh kerana ahli UMNO pun turut bersama, oleh kerana proses demokrasi tidak berjalan, oleh kerana UMNO yang ada sekarang bukan lagi UMNO yang ditubuhkan 62 tahun dahulu, saya berpendapat penyertaan saya sebagai ahli UMNO tidak bermakna dan tidak berguna lagi.

Justeru itu saya ingin umumkan bahawa saya sudah keluar daripada UMNO.

Saya ingin tegaskan bahawa saya bebas dan tidak menyokong mana-mana parti lawan.

Saya akan pohon untuk masuk UMNO apabila Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sudah berhenti daripada menjadi Presiden UMNO, Pengerusi BN dan Perdana Menteri Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad (bekas ahli UMNO No 1)
Dr Siti Hasmah binti Mohd Ali (bekas ahli UMNO No 2)

Taken from Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (May 19, 2008): Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad quit Umno today and urged others to follow suit in a move that could weaken its (Umno) hold on power and unsettle financial markets.

The still influential Mahathir, who was prime minister and leader of the United Malays National Organisation for 22 years until 2003, said he would only return to Umno after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi quit as leader.

Mahathir, 83, had stepped up pressure for Abdullah to resign as premier after the latter led Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to a dismal showing in the 12th General Election on March 8.

"I will write a letter to Umno headquarters to inform that I had quit the party," Mahathir told a news conference in his home state of Kedah. He said he had lost confidence in Umno's ability to safeguard the interest of the ethnic Malay majority.

Mahathir urged other Umno members to quit but not to join the opposition which is seeking to seize power from the ruling BN by wooing defectors.

"It's like pulling another brick out of the crumbling wall," said Tricia Yeoh, director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies. "Once Mahathir resigns, some others will too."

If UMNO lawmakers quit the party and declare themselves independents, meaning no party commands a clear majority in parliament, it will send Malaysia into the political wilderness.

Umno, the backbone of the 14-party BN that has ruled since independence from Britain in 1957, holds 79 of BN's 140 seats.

The opposition, led by former deputy premier and Mahathir's foe, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, needs to gain just 30 seats to win a simple majority and form the government.

"Mahathir's resignation highlighted the precarious political situation in Malaysia and could be negative to the ringgit currency," markets consultancy 4CAST said in a commentary.

Research house Informa Global Markets (IGM) said the resignation was more likely to undermine Abdullah's hold on the party rather than remove a thorn from the premier's flesh.

But it added: "It is too early to determine if it will split the party, and thereby weaken Umno further, which already is facing prospect of defections."

Mahathir announced the resignation three days after the government ordered the Attorney-General to investigate him and five others over the appointment of judges while he was in power.

Analysts said Mahathir was apparently upset over the allegations. "His departure can bring harm to Umno and weaken the PM's leadership," said political analyst Yahya Ismail.

Mahathir said at the weekend he was willing to be investigated and taken to court over the allegations.

Taken from here

Last week, speculation of significant crossovers to the Opposition gripped Parliament. But the real issues at stake for Sabah and Sarawak were blurred.

NERVES must have been jumping on Wednesday, the day when as many as 17 disgruntled Sabah MPs were expected to “jump ship”.

But the buzz fizzled out when it became apparent that the MPs were going to stay with the Barisan Nasional, this despite unveiled messages aired as early as the preceding week that several were ready to cross the floor to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Without the basics: A squatter shack occupied by an urban-poor family in Miri. In Sarawak, only 30% of its people have access to treated water and only 65% of its towns have electricity.

But PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was in fact away in Indonesia on that day and, as Prime Minister-in-waiting, “would not be able to receive them”, an aide pointed out on the eve.

But “saudara Anwar” has set a new deadline for the crossover: Sept 16, the 45th anniversary of Malaysia Day, for maximum impact.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi swiftly moved to stem the tide by meeting individuals and groups in the run-up to D-day: Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee met him on Tuesday as did three Bidayuh MPs from Sarawak who, just a fortnight after the March election, had fleetingly threatened to walk out.

Somehow, despite not having anything concrete in hand, Datuk Richard Riot Jaem (Serian), Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit (Mambong) and Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe (Mas Gading) were talked out of their disenchantment.

Unfortunately, the anticipated defections overshadowed the real grouses aired by the MPs. Much of the unhappiness reverts to the famous 20-point agreement, the almost sacred treaty signed by the fathers of Malaysia.

Several of the points – such as head of state and language – have never been issues; others like immigration have been eroded in the 45 intervening years.

“Why are MPs making a noise? Because we want the Government to return to the spirit of the 20 points,” said Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee.

The heart of the resentment stems from a feeling that the federal government is exercising two policies: one for the peninsula and another for Sabahans and Sarawakians.

Or as Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh put it bluntly: “We don’t want to be second-class citizens”.

Illegal immigrants were the primary complaint among Sabah MPs. They have raised it for countless years but it has fallen on deaf ears.

The first salvo was lobbed by Kimanis MP Datuk Anifah Aman, younger brother to Sabah Chief Minister who, in using the analogy of moving from a bungalow to a terrace house, said: “What’s the point of living in a bungalow if one has to sleep beside the toilet?”

Offers of RM30,000 or RM50,000 mean nothing to this suave, cigar-puffing businessman.

“Don’t insult us,” he told The Star. “It was never meant to blackmail the Government. I was only summarising the matters that are closest to Sabah hearts.”

“Before the next election, something has to be done. Why was it so easy to set up a Judicial Appointments Commission and a Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption? Why not a Commission on Illegal Immigrants?”

Roads are also a priority. In Sabah, less than 50% of the roads are tarred. It is worse in Sarawak where in semi-rural Julau, for instance, only about 30% of the population enjoy surfaced roads. Another 50% bump along laterite roads and 20% to 30% still resort to the rivers.

It is the same story with electricity and water. Only 65% of the towns have electricity. In the interior, 30% to 40% have to manage on their own generator sets.

In Sabah, only 60% to 65% have treated water; in Sarawak, the figure drops to 30%.

In towns, people get piped water the colour of “teh susu” (tea with milk), said Ghapur.

For this reason, Sabah and Sarawak MPs would have been satisfied with two crucial portfolios – “minister of JKR and Rural Development”, as Ghapur put it.

Sabahans are insulted at being “put in charge of museums and clouds”, he added, referring to Datuk Shafie Apdal and Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili respectively. Ideally, he wants four important ministerial portfolios so that the state can shape Cabinet thinking.

Ghapur gave an ultimatum for Abdullah to reshuffle his Cabinet within six months or, at the very latest, by the end of the year. “Without Sabah and Sarawak’s 54 seats, the Barisan would not have been able to form a simple majority.”

He pointed out that “one particular state has seven ministers; another state that had lost has four ministers”, referring elliptically to Johor and Selangor respectively. By comparison, Sabah has three and Sarawak has seven deputy ministers.

SAPP’s Yong took an even tougher stance – an August deadline.

RM3bil had been set aside for education under the 9MP, 18% of which is to go to Sabah, noted Kiandee. “But is that an allocation that can narrow the gap between peninsular and Sabah schools? You must look at the effect of the cumulative years, between well-equipped Selangor schools and schools in Sabah.”

“Quality is just as important as quantity,” said Deputy Minister of Energy, Water and Communications Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum. “To be fair to the Government, there are enough schools,” adding that his Julau constituency has 43 primary schools. “But I have yet to see the target of 20 students achieving 5As in UPSR per year. I know because I hand them RM500 each as an incentive.”

The figures tell stories of poverty. When Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department S.K. Devamany cited a national poverty index of 3.7%, Sabah MPs leapt up. Sabah suffers a poverty rate of 23% – or even worse in the interior.

All this might be resolved if Sabah earned more in oil royalties, suggested Ghapur. He proposed that the oil royalty be raised from 5% to 20%, one of the promises Anwar had made in his 2008 election manifesto.

But away from Parliament, Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing said: “He (Anwar) can talk. Our oil reserves will finish in four years. Unless we find new oil fields, it’s gone.”

On the sidelines, Sarawak MPs maintained a more dignified reserve.

“It’s good that they voice it,” said Salang. “Sarawakians by nature are not so outspoken.”

On May 13, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan sedately came out in support of the anti-hop law.

As president of the once-beleaguered Parti Bersatu Sabah, Pairin had been a prime victim of party hoppers who had defected to a cluster of smaller Sabah parties that exist today.

In 1992, the High Court had ruled that the law was unconstitutional as it contravened Article 10 of the Federal Constitution on freedom of association.

Amendments to that law require a two-thirds majority before it can be adopted by Parliament and, at present, neither side has the numbers.

The floor was awash with talk of money being dangled. But it is not Ringgit that will spur the jump – it will be deep frustrations.

Taken from The Star

A shift in position by Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders is causing ripples in the country’s political arena. Among the more vocal of the leaders is former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee. The 50-year-old Sabah Progressive Party president speaks to Sunday Staron why they are making their stand clear.

Your meeting earlier this week (May 13) with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is seen as a move by the Prime Minister to head off any possible crossovers by restless Sabah MPs. What did the Prime Minister tell you?

A: My discussion with the PM was cordial and friendly. The PM reaffirmed his commitment to the matters that have been brought to his attention before. I mentioned that the answers given by his Cabinet Ministers in Parliament (in the current session) are not satisfactory because they are noncommittal.

On my part, I made it clear that the Barisan leadership should not rule out the possibility of a crossover of MPs in the future because the issues raised by the MPs are real and affect the daily lives of the people. The window of opportunity is limited.

Q: Do you expect something substantial to come out of it?

A: No, I do not expect anything substantial. But I still hope to see some progress or express commitment to address the many issues.

We keenly await the answers to be given by the ministers in Parliament in the coming week to see if there is positive response from the Government.

Q: What are the key issues that SAPP is

raising for the Federal Government to resolve?

A: The key issues are illegal immigrants, unfair taxes such as the Cooking Oil Subsidy Scheme, imprudent extension of federal laws to Sabah that are costly to the state, political autonomy, closure of JPPS, recognition of the special status of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, development and so on. Details are found in the SAPP website

Q: You spoke about Petronas oil royalty where you have supported the building of the Sabah-Labuan bridge instead of Penang’s second bridge. You have also highlighted issues of double taxation of oil palm. Can you elaborate?

A: We see that the Labuan bridge is a necessary infrastructure project that will benefit Labuan and southern Sabah such as Beaufort, Sipitang and nearby Sarawak districts. Labuan’s international airport can serve this region.

The physical integration of the Labuan economy to the mainland would bring much growth and opportunities to the whole region.

As for the Cooking Oil Subsidy Scheme, it was implemented on Jan 1, 2007 as a response to the shortage of cooking oil last year.

Millers were unwilling to produce more cooking oil because of price control on the item.

Millers prefer to produce CPO and other products because of higher profitability.

Profiteers, hoarders and smugglers took advantage of the shortage and low prices. The Government should have penalised these culprits instead of the planters.

The term “double taxation” came about because of the Sabah state sales tax that oil palm people also pay to the state.

Since the Federal Government pays for the fuel subsidy and padi subsidy, it is only right that the Federal Government also pay for the cooking oil subsidy.

Why penalise the oil palm planters? Since Sabah pays for almost 70% of this subsidy, it means 10% of the population (Malaysians in Sabah) subsidises 70% of the cooking oil in the country.

This is an unfair tax.

Q: Your demands for political autonomy from the Federal Government has raised eyebrows as some even associate it to Sabah’s status in the federation. Tell us what you mean by political autonomy?

A: Political autonomy is not sovereignty. Political autonomy means that the people in Sabah should be able to determine their own political status, participation and elect their own state government.

The Chief Minister should be based on the state elections instead of the current practice of appointment by the federal leadership, that is, the PM.

We can learn from Perlis and Terengganu.

To us, political autonomy also means not having Sabah MPs and potential candidates losing their dignity to kowtow to machais (henchmen) of central leaders in lobbying to be election candidates.

An example is when Sabah Umno leaders had to camp in KL to lobby for candidacy or to oust an incumbent chief minister, because they are all appointed by KL, not selected by the people.

Q: What sort of political scenario is SAPP looking at for Sabah?

A: We want to see the political scenario for Sabah as one that will be determined by state-based parties. National parties may exercise their right to participate in state and parliamentary elections in the state but should not force the state-based parties to share seats with them or the national coalition such as Barisan.

Q: You gave an August deadline for Kuala Lumpur to meet Sabah demands. Is such a stand realistic? Some see it as a political psy-war being played out by Sabah MPs and parties. Do you see it that way?

A: The August deadline is practical and realistic because some of the issues are easily within the capability of the Government to solve.

As for longer term matters like security, the Government must show political will and determination to act. Matters like illegal immigration are the basic duty of the Government. There should be no need for political pressure to get the Government to act.

The Government has failed miserably on this score. People are getting fed up. After August, the nation will be busy with other things such as the fasting month, Hari Raya and Umno elections. By September, the national media and the country as a whole would have gotten tired of the Sabah issues. We (Sabah) will be forgotten again.

For instance, the national media were rarely keen on the issues affecting the people in Sabah. Only when the speculation of “crossovers” surfaced did the national media become interested in Sabah – because the “crossovers” would affect the national government.

If not, the national media is not interested about Sabah issues.

Some may see this as a political psy-war. I don’t know. But the issues are real. People are serious.

Q: If a situation arises where you are unable to obtain the concessions for the state, what will your next move be? Does pulling out of Barisan constitute one of your options?

A: If we are unable to achieve results after this window of opportunity has closed, then either we become subservient to the federal establishment again like in the last few decades or else the situation will explode. Explosion means that the mainstream Barisan people will have no control over the political process. Opposition parties, NGOs and people power of some sort might emerge. This is because people might lose hope in the Barisan political process. By then, whatever SAPP does is not relevant to the political process. Whether SAPP or some other component party pulls out or not is no longer important.

Q: Your party has only two MPs and four assemblymen. Do you think you make a difference? What can be achieved?

A: In terms of numbers, SAPP with two MPs and four assemblymen makes no difference. This two by four box is too small to rock the boat.

Q: Why is Sabah the only state making its voice heard louder than, say Sarawak, which has similar issues and concerns? Are Sarawak MPs doing it more subtly?

A: Sarawak has a closely-knit leadership. The CM there is all-powerful. But their feelings and aspirations are similar to Sabah. They will wait for the easterly wind to blow before they make known their feelings.

Q: Have you met Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or his intermediaries? If no, why is this talk of crossover so hot?

A: You do not need a meeting with Opposition leaders for talk of “crossover” to become hot because the underlying causes are the real issues facing Sabah and the people.

Let’s go back in time and recap what happened before Sabah, Sarawak and East Malaysia merged to become Malaysia.

For further reading, please download the PDF version of the book Surrendering to Symbols by Stig Aga Aandstad here.

Zainon Ahmad @ The Sun

INITIALLY the leaders of Sabah (then British North Borneo) and Sarawak were opposed to Malaysia or at best gave it a lukewarm welcome after it was proposed by Tunku Abdul Rahman on May 27, 1961 at the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore.

“Let us become independent first and then we will decide whether to join Malaysia or not,” said Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui, the Kuching mayor and leader of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), formed in 1959.

Other prominent Sarawak leaders like Datu Abang Haji Openg – later the first local governor – and Abang Mustapha Abang Haji Abdul Gapor who are also members of the Council Negeri, considered the oldest legislature in the country, were unanimous in their opposition to the Tunku’s plan.

In Sabah, Tun Fuad Stephens (then Donald Stephens), a newspaper publisher, a member of the State Council and Huguan Siou (paramount leader) of the Kadazan/Dusun people, shared the same view as Ong.

Sabah Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens takes his oath of office as part of the first state cabinet on Sept 16, 1963.

“We must not be seen as changing colonial masters,” was the response of the United National Kadazan Organisation (Unko), a party Fuad formed with Keningau community leader GS Sundang. They contacted leaders from the other territories to see whether they should revive the idea of a federation of Borneo states of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei instead.

Many of the leaders believed that Malaysia’s formation was not really meant to benefit the people of the two territories but more to provide a solution to solve the problems of Britain, Malaya and Singapore.

Britain needed to withdraw from the East but it could not just up and go without ensuring its former colonies’ survival. Malaya wanted to
increase the number of bumiputras to ensure that their numbers were bigger than the others.
Singapore, threatened by communists, wanted security.

The leaders opposed the plan because they feared their people would be at the mercy of the commercially superior Chinese whose numbers would increase with Malaysia, and they also feared that they would eventually be sidelined by the more politically sophisticated

They also worried that their culture and polity would be gradually eroded. Thus, discussions were held on such issues as religion, education and finance where early assurances on these matters were made. Most of the discussions centred on the Sabah All-party 20-point memorandum and the Sarawak 18-point memorandum containing matters the two territories wanted to safeguard.

Minister of Sarawak Affairs, Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng, takes the oath at the swearing-in ceremony on Nov 2, 1963.

But mostly the focus was on religion, constitutional safeguards, immigration, special position of the indigenous people, language, education and fiscal arrangements.

But even while discussions were still at the early stages, more and more leaders and their people gradually began to voice support for the

The Malays were easily persuaded by Malayan Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie – the driving force behind the plan.

And the resolve of those Malays who still resisted the plan finally caved in shortly before the Cobbold Commission arrived in the two territories to determine the peoples’ response to Tunku’s proposal.

Tun Mustapha Datu Harun, a Sabah State Council member and considered a leader of Sabah Malays, agreed wholeheartedly. Someone even described him as being the most “gung-ho” about Malaysia. A few months after the announcement, he formed Usno (United Sabah National Organisation).

In Sarawak, two lawyers, Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub and his nephew Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, not only favoured the idea but also promoted it. They quickly formed a party called Barjasa (Barisan Anak Jati Sarawak) which later merged with Panas (Parti Negara Sarawak) to form Parti Bumiputra.

Many Dayaks, led by their paramount chief, Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng, also came out in support of the idea. The chief was among the founders of Pesaka (Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak) which later merged with Parti Bumiputra to form Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu or PBB, the current dominant party of the Sarawak Barisan Nasional.

Datuk James Wong Kim Ming, who later led the Dayak-based Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and was deputy chief minister several
times, agreed “subject to favourable terms for
Sabah and Sarawak.” In his book The Price of Loyalty, he said he had been told of the proposed federation in 1960 by British officials while he was in London.

Indeed, most leaders of the Borneo territories had heard of similar proposals for an association of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei being bandied about by officials in Britain and in Asia long before the Tunku’s announcement.

But Fuad Stephens and members of his delegation abandoned the idea of a federation of Borneo territories after meeting Tunku in Kuala Lumpur where they were royally entertained. Fuad Stephens was also talked out of it by Ghazali and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, a strong campaigner for Malaysia.

A member of Fuad’s delegation, Datuk Seri Ghani Gilong, told reporters on arrival at the airport in Kota Kinabalu (then Jesselton) “… bisuk pun boleh masuk Malaysia” (“... we can join Malaysia as early as tomorrow”).

Fuad Stephens, who with his friends had tried to popularise the term Kadazan in the 1950s to refer to his people who were “unglamorously” known as Dusun, now threw himself into campaigning for Malaysia.

He hoped the founding day of the new federation would fall on Sept 14, 1963, his 43rd birthday. It was not to be. It fell instead on the 40th birthday of Lee Kuan Yew, the man who convinced the Unko leader of the benefits of joining Malaysia.

Sundang, who was against Malaysia and who was also not enamoured by the term Kadazan, left Unko and formed United National Pasok Momogun Party or Pasok Momogun for short.

But all these parties later came together as the Sabah Alliance led by Mustapha and Fuad. On Merdeka Day, Mustapha took office as governor and Fuad as chief minister. And, as Fuad wanted, it was an independent Sabah that officially became part of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

In Sarawak, SNAP, led by Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, finally agreed to join Malaysia but SUPP refused to be persuaded till the end.

Said Ong: “We felt that any decision on North Borneo and Sarawak becoming part of a larger confederation should not be made until both these states were independent and directly responsible for their own destiny.”

The party held demonstrations when the Cobbold Commission arrived in Sarawak and told the commission why Sarawak should not be part of Malaysia. It said the same thing to the United Nations team that was sent to verify the peoples’ response to the new federation.

Such was its opposition to Malaysia that it even voted against the bill when the Sarawak Alliance government, led by SNAP’s Ningkan as chief minister, presented it in the inaugural meeting of the newly elected Council Negeri. The vote was 31 ayes to five SUPP nays.

Having succeeded in forming Malaysia, Tunku, now prime minister of a larger federation was magnanimous to SUPP. Since then, the Chinese-based party with Dayak and Malay members has played an important role in the country as well as the state.

It is interesting to note that as Malaysia celebrates 50 years of nationhood, fewer and fewer people seem to be asking about the safeguards thatwere put in place and whether they are still in place. Like in any strong federation, the tendency is for them to gradually fade away.

In Sabah’s case, it was successive state governments themselves that whittled away some of the safeguards, arguably, for better state and federal relations and stronger national unity.

Under Mustapha, for instance, the Sabah constitution was amended to make Islam the state religion. But he refused to sign over Sabah’s
petroleum rights to the federal government and Petronas. Fuad, when he became chief minister as the head of the Berjaya government, however, did it just before he was killed in a plane crash.

Under Mustapha, the state government also changed the provisions for education and language through the extension of the Federal Education Act 1961 to the state, hence making the education department and its director directly responsible to the education ministry.

After Datuk Harris Salleh succeeded Fuad as Berjaya chief minister, he made Labuan a federal territory, and in the process, made it easy for other Malaysians to enter Sabah.

There is little to distinguish Sabah from the peninsula states now that Umno is leading the state Barisan Nasional.

Sarawak, on the other hand, seems to be fiercely autonomous even though it has given up some safeguards in the interest of unity and uniformity. But it is still the only state without a state religion.

Unlike Sabah, it was an independent state from 1842 and was recognised so by the US and Britain. It had is own flag and national anthem long before it became a British colony in 1946.

The same flag was unfurled and the same anthem sung when the state became independent again.

That perhaps explains why the proud state – the only one still without the benefit of Umno’s guidance – is trying very hard to remain autonomous.