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 Let’s find the truth by examining historical documents relevant to the formation of Malaysia.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,
- the 20-Points Document
- the Malaysian Solidarity and Consultative Committee Report
- the Cobbold Commission Report
- the Inter-Governmental Committee Report
- Hansard reports (on the Malaysia debate both in the Malayan and British Parliaments)
- the Malaysia Agreement 1963
- 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.
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