Revisit Malaysia Agreement to quell growing discontent, say east Malaysian lawmakers

PETALING JAYA, Aug 22 — Putrajaya must revisit the 18- and 20-point agreements inked with Sarawak and Sabah to appease the growing anger of East Malaysians over their perceived marginalisation, two Borneo lawmakers said today.

Penampang MP Darrell Leiking also downplayed the purported talk of secession by Sabah and Sarawak residents, insisting that it was just a reflection of general discontent.

“It’s not a fact that it is a secession movement. It is an accumulation of anger, of disappointment. The people of Sabah and Sarawak, they are not happy with the current situation,” Leiking said during a forum on federalism in Sunway University here.

Leiking said this anger is especially apparent among the youth, who were forced to migrate and find work in peninsular Malaysia and Singapore due to the economic disparity between East and West Malaysia, despite the former’s wealth of natural resources.

“When these young Sabahans go to Singapore, they see a former partner doing well… Peninsula at the same time, is the same,” said Leiking.

Leiking said this was compounded by how Malaysia chose instead to highlight Malaya’s Independence Day on August 31 instead of the Malaysia Day on September 16, a point that fellow panellist Tan Sri Dr James Masing agreed with.

“It is a new movement that will probably continue until the federal government accedes to the Sabahans and Sarawakians’ request to look at whether or not they have met whatever we have asked for during the formation of Malaysia,” said PKR MP Leiking.

“Let us revisit it first. After visiting, we find something which is not correct, let us review,” said Masing, a senior minister in the Sarawak state government.

The Malaysia Agreement was signed in 1963 between the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo — which is now called Sabah.

The agreement incorporated some of the 18- and 20-point agreements drawn up by North Borneo and Sarawak, and played a part in the formation of the Federal Constitution.

In recent times, Sabah and Sarawak Christians have also become increasingly outspoken over what they construe to be a disregard of the agreements following a recent Court of Appeal decision effectively barring the word “Allah” to non-Muslims.

The community has also complained about the covert Islamisation in the two states, which included the establishment of Islam as an official religion and mass conversions of native residents to Islam.

“Don’t [bring] Islamisation into an area that already has a religion. A lot of them are Christians. I don’t think it would be nice for you to go in and convert Christians,” said Masing today.

“Don’t touch them. If they belong to a religion, leave them alone and let them be. We also do not try to convert Muslims in Christians. It must work both ways.”

Two days ago, Sabah State Reform Party (STAR) president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan urged State Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak to work with Putrajaya to establish a “Malaysia Review Committee” to discuss the problems under the 1963 Sabah Agreement and address the grouses of the people.

Other issues which stoked the anger of East Malaysians included a mass influx of foreign immigrants and the flood of Peninsula Malaysians in control of the civil service and economy in both states.

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