Sunday, September 16, 2012

Anak Sabah, Jiwa Malaysia

Di sebalik beberapa lukisan yang menghiasi dinding kediaman saya, ada satu yang kerap mencuri perhatian. Lukisan hitam putih itu menampilkan imej detik bersejarah 16 September 1963. Bintangnya adalah tiga bapa kemerdekaan – Tun Fuad Stephens, Tun Datu Mustapha Harun dan Tun Abdul Razak Hussein – berdiri seiring di podium di Kota Kinabalu bagi menyambut kelahiran negara dinamakan Malaysia.

Pada tarikh keramat itu, ribuan rakyat Sabah asyik mendengar Tun Fuad Stephens (ketika itu dikenali sebagai Donald Stephens) membacakan skrol Pengisytiharan Malaysia. 

Bagaimanapun, ada sedikit suntikan elemen luar realiti atau surreal di lukisan itu. Imej seorang remaja lelaki berpakaian `hip hop’ berwarna-warni dan melakukan aksi tarian `breakdance’ diselit bersebelahan ketiga-tiga tokoh itu.

Jika diteliti, anda boleh melihat pandangan penuh kecurigaan di wajah tiga Tun itu terhadap remaja lelaki berkenaan – bimbangkan generasi masa depan Malaysia mungkin tidak memahami pengertian sebenar kemerdekaan negara.

Hari ini, terjemahan remaja lelaki itu mungkin boleh dikaitkan dengan sesiapa saja di kalangan kita hari ini. Sebagai contoh, ada golongan tertentu di Sabah mendakwa Sabah sepatutnya menjadi satu daripada empat bahagian (bukan satu daripada 14 negeri) dalam Persekutuan Malaysia. Mereka mendakwa Sabah ditipu sejak 49 tahun lalu dan tuduhan ini adalah sangat serius.

Benarkah begitu? Kita mulakan dengan mengkaji dokumen sejarah berkaitan pembentukan Malaysia yang merangkumi:

* Dokumen 20 Perkara 
* Laporan Jawatankuasa Perundingan Perpaduan Malaysia
* Laporan Suruhanjaya Cobbold
* Laporan Jawatankuasa Antara Kerajaan
* Laporan Hansard (berhubung perbahasan Malaysia di Parlimen Malaya dan British)
* Perjanjian Malaysia 1963; dan 
* Dokumen Pengisytiharan Malaysia. 

Being Sabahan, Feeling Malaysian (Part Three)

Although in terms of membership, Sabah is equal to the other states in the peninsular, Sabah does have its own autonomy as stipulated in the constitution which other states (except Sarawak) do not have. Immigration is under the control of the state government.

Sabah is allowed to continue its cabinet system while some taxation and land matters are still within the state’s prerogative. Even certain laws passed in the Malaysian parliament cannot be implemented in Sabah without express consent from the state.

It bothers me when some quarters in Sabah love to give an impression that Malaysia was thrust upon the Sabahan leaders despite their dissenting views. According to them, that was cogent evidence that the idea of Malaysia federation was faulty from the get-go. 

I admit there was earlier dissention among Sabah leaders at the point when Tunku Abdul Rahman first announced the idea of Malaysia. Tun Fuad, for intance, was initially suspicious of it.

This is understandably so since Sabah leaders were about to commit the state into a complicated collaboration of great consequence upon the people of Sabah. But the dissenting views of Sabah leaders slowly changed after extensive consultation, private meetings and intense negotiation were held between the founding fathers of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. 

Tun Fuad, for example, was clearly inching toward the approval of federation of Malaysia. Their approval was evident in series of agreements, which had been executed to form Malaysia. In so far as history is concerned, the signed agreements what matter the most.

Would Sabah be better off on her own instead of joining Malaysia? In answering that question, we must be fair to our founding fathers. What was it like to be in their shoes at the time when they were pushing for Malaysia? The question must be answered in the context of what actually transpired in the 1960s instead of our penchant of looking at history from our 2012 perspective when the state and the nation are doing fine.

There was the issue of security concern prior to the British consenting to grant Sabah her independence. The British were worried that being independent on her own would seriously undermine Sabah’s security. And if history were to be the torch of truth, their fears were not completely unfounded.

If we look at the regions around Sabah back then, we know that this part of the world, at the time, was quite unstable politically and that peace was very fragile commodity. The communist insurgency in Indo-China was gaining momentum and that made the Thais, Malayans and Singaporeans genuinely nervous. To the east of Sabah, President Macapagal of the Philippines was pursuing the “Sabah claim” rather aggressively. The Philippines issued threats and later had secretly sanctioned covert military plans to invade Sabah in the infamous incident of Corregidor island which elicited condemnation by unanimous Malaysian Parliament.

To the south of Sabah, President Soekarno of Indonesia was also increasing his vitriol against Sabahan and Malayan governments. Against this backdrop of threats, Tun Fuad and Tun Mustapha knew they had very little choice. In the end they chose the most sensible thing to do: to merge into a bigger entity called Malaysia which would provide similarities and familiarities in terms of British administration system, judicial process, laws and civil service in Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. They knew that being part of a bigger entity would give Sabah the advantage of economies of scale in terms of attracting investment, lowering cost of development, sharing the prohibitively expensive defense spending and dramatically cutting short the learning curve of nation building.

The Future

Admittedly, federalism is not some foolproof or completely perfect solution for every nation. There is bound to be points of contention especially on distribution of revenue, development funds and claims of unfair relationship. These debates occur wherever federalism is practiced in any part of the world. But these issues can be debated with decorum without going through such destructive polemic, which along the way inflicting severe damage to the very fiber of our nation’s being.

Some go to the extent of to misguidedly attribute current day problems on the concept of federalism. They shift every issue from poverty, lack of infrastructures to illegal immigrants onto the shoulders of federalism.

I do admit that Sabahans have every right to raise these legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, these issues have more to do with policies and priorities of the government. The same should not be allowed to spill over into emotional debate of whether or not Sabah should be a part of Malaysia. Policies and priorities can always be contested, debated and adjusted accordingly.

We Sabahans must look beyond the futile debate of "Sabah for Sabahans" and “Sabah vs. Malaya”. The concept of ‘Malayan government in Putrajaya’ is but a flicker of the opposition’s imagination. There is only one Malaysian government where the voices of each race and state are being simultaneously heard and represented. Needless to say, out of the entire current federal cabinet, 4 Ministers and 5 Deputy Ministers are from Sabah.

From my perspective, the Sarawakians and Singaporeans have decided to move on, refusing to split hairs over the polemic of divisive politics even though they were very much part of the Malaysia Agreement before.

In Sarawak, for instance, the question of whether to celebrate independence day on 31st August or 16th September is not something the Sarawakians would dwell much upon. And ironically, Sarawak celebrated her independence on 22nd July 1963.

Similarly, over in Singapore, the people have stopped whining about the fateful day in history called Singapore Day (that is the name of the Act passed by Malaysian Parliament to expel Singapore from Malaysia in 1965). Like Sarawak, they have moved on and concentrated on making Singapore of what it is today.

The debate of 49th vs. 55th year of independence must cease with immediate effect. While it is true that Sabah gained her independence 49 years ago, we cannot deny that our fellow Malaysians in the peninsular had their independence 55 years ago.

Shifting the year of independence to 1963 rather than 1957 would make 3million Sabahans happy, but may in turn slight the feeling of more than 20millions Peninsular Malaysians who gained independence 55 years ago.

We may solve one problem but create another! That is why the government decided to be diplomatic in solving this conundrum. But things have taken a positive turn, for instance, the official logo of 55th Merdeka does not bear the word ‘Malaysia’. To me, that is a good start. Perhaps in the future, the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry will drop the contentious reference of base year altogether and instead just use the plain "Hari Merdeka" in its official promotion material. This will make 28 million Malaysians happy!

Lastly, in conjunction with the auspicious Hari Malaysia, I urge all Malaysians -- especially my fellow Sabahans -- to move on. It is undeniable that we must at all times preserve Sabah's constitutional rights, but let us not be clouded by any shadow of doubt that Sabah's future lies firmly with Malaysia, as much as the future of Malaysia is with Sabah.

If you ask me, I have always been a proud Sabahan yet feeling like a true Malaysian. So can you.


Being Sabahan, Feeling Malaysian (Part Two)

The federation of Malaysia was to be formed on 31 August 1963, which was the same date British would grant Sabah her independence. Despite great challenges, everything went according to the plan until the Philippines and Indonesia decided to throw a spanner into the works. 

At the eleventh hour, President Macapagal and President Soekarno demanded the United Nations to form a special team to ascertain the support or rejection thereof of the people of North Borneo and Sarawak in so far as the new federation was concerned. 

Tunku Abdul Rahman objected to the formation of the special team since the deadline for Malaysia Day was fast approaching. He also argued that the demand was redundant since British had earlier commissioned Lord Cobbold team to do the exact same thing. 

But by sheer twist of fate, Tunku Abdul Rahman and the leaders of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore relented to the request since they were adamant in proving the two Presidents wrong. Hence, the formation of Malaysia was delayed for two weeks to pave way for the United Nations team to report its findings.

Interestingly enough, the findings of the team reaffirmed the earlier conclusion by Lord Cobbold’s Commission that majority of Sabahans agreed to be under Malaysia.

When the date 31st August 1963 came, British decided to proceed with earlier plans to give Sabah her independence, with an understanding that, in two week’s time,  she would be forming Malaysia together with the states in Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak on the 16th September 1963.

Historians are of the view that Sabah independence was basically a paper declaration because the executive power to administer Sabah - even after 31st August 1963 - largely remained in the hands of the last British Governor, Sir William Goode. Sabah did not have her own Chief Minister and Head of State until the 16th September 1963 when Fuad and Mustapha were sworn in to fill the respective posts. 

For all intents and purposes, Sabah was still very much administered by the British in the span of two weeks between 31st August and 16th September 1963 even though Sabah was supposedly accorded self-government in that short nationhood of two weeks.

*Continue to part three in the next posting

Being Sabahan, feeling Malaysian (Part One)

Of all the paintings on the walls of my house, there is one that always steals my attention away. It is the historic image of 16 September 1963, captured in a quaint black and white style. It is the one where the nation’s fathers of independence -- Tun Fuad Stephens, Tun Datu Mustapha Harun and Tun Abdul Razak Hussein -- stood together on a podium in downtown Kota Kinabalu to usher in the birth of a new nation called, Malaysia.

History was made that day when thousands of joyous Sabahans listened attentively as Tun Fuad Stephens (then known as ‘Donald Stephens’) held up a scroll and recited the Proclamation of Malaysia.

However, to infuse a dash of surrealism to the image, there is a colored superimposed image of a boy in hip-hop clothing, pulling a breakdance move next to where the founding fathers stood.

If you look closely, you can see the weary eyes of the three Tuns fixed on the boy. Their facial expressions locked in disbelief and trepidation that one day, the future generation of Malaysians – as represented by the boy's image – will not understand the significance of our independence.

That imaginary boy in the painting could very well be anyone of us today. Take for example the claim by certain people that Sabah is supposed to be one of four  (not just one of the fourteen states) in the federation of Malaysia. They claim that Sabah had been cheated out of this position for the last 49 years. It is a very serious allegation, one which questions the very need of our nation's existence.

Is this claim true? Let’s find the truth by examining historical documents relevant to the formation of Malaysia. These included, among others,

  1. the 20-Points Document
  2. the Malaysian Solidarity and Consultative Committee Report
  3. the Cobbold Commission Report
  4. the Inter-Governmental Committee Report
  5. Hansard reports (on the Malaysia debate both in the Malayan and British Parliaments)
  6. the Malaysia Agreement 1963
  7. and Proclamation Malaysia document.

These documents together with Tunku Abdul Rahman’s and Lee Kuan Yew’s autobiographies give us a better perspective of the circumstances which led to the formation of Malaysia in the 1963. They narrate the state of affairs in South East Asia in the 50s and 60s, especially in terms of security and uncertain future that our leaders had to deal with at the time.

Firstly let's look at some excerpts of the documents and agreements. Judge for yourself if the argument that Sabah was meant to be one of four member states of the newly formed Malaysia Federation, holds any water.

Malaysia Agreement

Article I of the agreement crystalized Sabah status within Malaysia. It reads,

“The Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the State of Singapore shall be federated with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya as the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in accordance with the constitutional instruments annexed to this Agreement and the Federation shall thereafter be called “Malaysia”.

Malaysia Agreement clearly states that Sabah was to be one of the fourteen states within Malaysia.

Proclamation of Malaysia

Similarly, the final paragraph of the Proclamation of Malaysia (which was read out by Donald Stephens on the morning of 16th of September 1963 in Kota Kinabalu) reads,

"... that Malaysia comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice.”

The Inter-Governmental Committee Report

The Inter-Governmental Committee Report, partly set up to work out the constitutional arrangements of Malaysia, remains steadfast on Sabah being one of the 14 states of the Federation via point 10 of Chapter II (Establishment Of The Federation Of Malaysia)

"The Federation will consist of the States of the existing Federation of Malaya, Sabah (at present known as North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore... The name of the Federation shall be Malaysia."

Malaysia Act 1963

In Section 4, Part II (The States of the Federation) it states

“…that the Federation shall be known, in Malay and English, by the name Malaysia. The States of the Federation shall be - (a) the states of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu; and (b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and (c) the State of Singapore."

The Malaysia Act 1963 is also unequivocal on this point.

As an MP from Sabah, I would glady and readily agree if Sabah was to be one out of four parts of Malaysia. Unfortunately, the documents above clearly stated otherwise. We cannot ignore those facts as they are part of history which were extensively argued and subsequently agreed upon, drafted and jointly signed by Sabah leaders of the time.

*Continue to Part Two in the next posting

Friday, September 07, 2012

Implikasi cadangan harga kereta murah Pakatan Rakyat

Dalam keghairahan Pakatan Rakyat untuk menurunkan harga kereta, mereka terlupa untuk memberi  maklumat kepada rakyat Malaysia apakah impak cadangan tersebut terhadap kualiti alam sekitar dan kenaikan sisa karbon serta kesesakan lalu lintas di jalanraya.

Sudah tentu ratusan ribu kereta baru yang bakal dibeli ini akan menambah implikasi buruk kepada alam sekitar dan kesesakan jalanraya yang sekarang ini pun sudah begitu kronik di bandar-bandar utama di negara kita.

Apakah kita akan terpaksa membelanjakan berbillion ringgit lagi untuk membina lebih banyak jalan dan lebuhraya bagi menampung lebih banyak kereta yang murah ini?

Atau haruskah kita belanjakan duit berbillion itu untuk perkara lain seperti sekolah, hospital dan balai polis, termasuk penambahbaikan sistem pengangkutan awam, bagi mengelak impak negatif bertambah terhadap alam sekitar dan kesesakan lalu lintas yang kronik.

Ramai orang merasakan cadangan mengurangkan harga kereta ini bercanggah dengan tindakan kerajaan untuk menubuhkan Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) yang dipertangggungjawabkan untuk mereformasikan sistem pengangkutan awam di negara kita.

Seperkara lagi, orang kampung di luar bandar tidak akan mampu untuk membeli kereta walaupun harga kereta diturunkan. Tetapi mereka akan merasa implikasi dari cadangan ini. Besar kemungkinan mereka terpaksa berkorban kerana sekolah dan klinik di kawasan pendalaman terpaksa di kurangkan akibat kekurangan peruntukan pembangunan disebabkan cukai kereta berbillion ringgit yang dipungut oleh kerajaan sudah berkurangan.

Ini belum lagi membicarakan tentang komitmen negara kita untuk mengurangkan intensiti karbon negara sebanyak 40% sepertimana yang diperakui oleh Malaysia dalam Protokol Kyoto.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Mengapa Harga Getah Sabah Rendah Berbanding Semenanjung?

(Dipetik dari laman web Lembaga Industri Getah Sabah. Klik disini untuk ke laman web tersebut.)

Harga getah mentah seperti lateks, kepingan tidak diasap, kentalan dan sekerap di Sabah adalah berbeza dengan harga di Semenanjung Malaysia disebabkan oleh kos-kos yang lebih tinggi di Sabah seperti berikut:-

  1. Kos Pengangkutan (Logistik) Tambahan
  2. Kos Pemprosesan Getah lebih tinggi
  3. Kos Perkhidmatan Pembelian secara langsung getah lebih tinggi
1. Kos Pengangkutan Tambahan Getah SMR (Standard Malaysian Rubber) yang dikeluarkan oleh Kilang Getah di Sabah perlu dihantar ke Pelabuhan Klang (Semenanjung) atau Singapura sebelum dihantar kepada pembeli.  Ini melibatkan kos tambahan pengangkutan kepada pengilang di Sabah. Penjual getah di Semenanjung Malaysia tidak terlibat dalam kos tambahan ini, manakala untuk Negeri Sarawak, kos pengangkutan tambahan ini adalah lebih rendah daripada  Negeri Sabah kerana jaraknya yang lebih dekat dari Semenanjung atau Singapura. Maka dengan itu, Mereka berkemampuan untuk membayar harga yang lebih tinggi kepada para pekebun kecil getah . 

2. Kos Pemprosesan Getah Kos memproses getah di Sabah adalah lebih tinggi berbanding dengan Semenanjung Malaysia.  Ini adalah kerana:-

2.1 Semua alat ganti, bahan kimia, bahan pembungkusan dan bahan-bahan  lain harus diimport dari Semenanjung Malaysia.  Harga bahan-bahan tersebut adalah lebih tinggi kerana dikenakan kos tambahan perkapalan dari Semenanjung Malaysia ke Sabah.

2.2 Harga minyak diesel untuk industri di Sabah adalah lebih tinggi daripada di Semenanjung Malaysia.  Minyak diesel diperlukan untuk kegunaan mesin pengering getah di kilang getah.

2.3 Mutu getah yang rendah daripada para pekebun kecil Sabah juga menyebabkan peningkatan kos pemprosesan kilang kerana ianya memerlukan mesin tambahan dengan motor berkilowatt tinggi.  Penggunaan mesin tersebut meningkatkan kos modal, kos pemakaian elektrik, air dan bahan kimia.

3. Kos Perkhidmatan Pembelian Getah LIGS telah melaksanakan perkhidmatan pembelian getah secara langsung di ladang (farm gate) pekebun kecil sejak tahun 1970 sebagai tanggungjawab sosial untuk membantu para pekebun kecil memasarkan getah mereka.  Perkhidmatan ini dijalankan di kampung-kampung diseluruh Sabah.  Kebanyakkan kampung-kampung ini berselerak dan terpencil.  Keadaan jalan ke kampung-kampung juga kurang baik serta berbukit-bukau dan sebahagian dari jalan-jalan ini hanya boleh dilalui dengan kenderaan berpacuan empat roda. Untuk memastikan semua pekebun kecil menikmati harga yang sama di seluruh negeri, harga getah juga diseragamkan di semua daerah tanpa mengambil kira lokasi sama ada ianya terletak di kawasan terpencil (520 km jauh dari kilang) ataupun berdekatan dengan kilang memproses getah.  Jarak yang jauh dikebanyakkan lokasi pembelian ini menyebabkan kos pengangkutan dan kos pengendalian yang tinggi.  Ini jauh berbeza dengan di Semenanjung Malaysia di mana harga getah yang dibeli di ladang (farm gate price) diantara negeri-negeri dan juga dalam setiap negeri adalah tidak seragam. Oleh demikian, kos untuk pembelian getah secara langsung daripada para pekebun kecil di Sabah adalah lebih tinggi berbanding dengan Semenanjung Malaysia disebabkan oleh infrastruktur mereka yang jauh lebih baik. Getah mentah yang dikeluarkan oleh pekebun kecil di Sabah adalah lebih basah dibandingkan dengan di Sarawak.  Contohnya, purata Kandungan Getah Kering (KGK) untuk getah kepingan tidak diasap di Sabah adalah 68% - 70% manakala KGK di Sarawak adalah 85% - 90%.  

Inilah sebabnya harga getah di Sarawak adalah lebih tinggi. Oleh yang demikian adalah sukar untuk menyamakan harga di Sabah, Sarawak dan Semenanjung Malaysia.

Kongsi artikel ini: