Wednesday, 10 September 2014

This is the question to ponder on this Sept 16!

By Joe Fernandez

It was not for nothing that I was one of the top two students in English and History at St John’s Institution, Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur. The other student was Kenneth Surin whose mother used to teach at St John’s Primary School. English and History are a good foundation for law.

For starters, it’s not surprising why Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has declared that the formation of Malaysia cannot be questioned since the Constitution makes no provision for it. The Constitution need not make provisions for questioning it and cannot ban any such discussions.

There's an obvious mistake in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution on the definition of Federation. It states on Page 200 that the Federation referred to was that set up under the Federation of Malaya Agreement, 1957.

In fact, there was no such Agreement in 1957.

The Federation of Malaya Agreement was signed in London on 21 Jan, 1948 and announced on 1 Feb, 1948. The Federation of Malaya Independence Act was passed on 31 July, 1957. Malaya joined the Commonwealth on 31 Aug, 1957.

Obviously, the Malayan Federation was renamed the Malaysian Federation on 16 Sept, 1963 or 916.

Here’s why:

On 11 September 1963, just 4 days before the new Federation of Malaysia was to come into being, the Government of the State of Kelantan sought a declaration that the Malaysia Agreement and Malaysia Act were null and void, or alternatively, that even if they were valid, they did not bind the State of Kelantan. The Kelantan Government argued that both the Malaysia Agreement and the Malaysia Act were not binding on Kelantan on the following grounds that the Malaysia Act in effect abolished the Federation of Malaya and this was contrary to the 1957 Federation of Malaya Agreement that the proposed changes required the consent of each of the constituent states of the Federation of Malaya – including Kelantan – and this had not been obtained. (Source: wikipedia)

Another question to consider: why are Sabah and Sarawak referred to as the 12th and 13th states in the Fede
ration (i.e. obviously the Malayan Federation as per Article 160 which was renamed Malaysian Federation on 16 Sept, 1963). This is what the people of Sabah and Sarawak want to know since they can't believe that their Founding Fathers bargained for membership in the Malayan Federation.

This is an issue which must be settled just like the issue of independence anniversary year.

Next year both the peninsula and Sabah will celebrate Aug 31 as Independence Day without mentioning how long they have been independent. Sarawak, which also obtained its independence in 1963 like Sabah but a little earlier on July 22, is being persuaded to delay the celebration of its Independence Day to Aug 31.

Also, Sabah and Sarawak observe Malaysia Day on Sept 16 every year thinking that it heralds the birth of a new Federation in 1963 bringing together Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya in equal partnership. Brunei decided at the last minute not to join in. Singapore was kicked out two years later.

Do Sabahans and Sarawakians know what they are celebrating on Sept 16?

Why don't the states in the peninsula observe Malaysia Day, a day when the Malayan Federation changed its name to Malaysian Federation?

Why are Sabahans and Sarawakians celebrating Sept 16 if it doesn’t herald the birth of a new Federation in 1963 bringing together Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya (minus Singapore) in equal partnership?

Alternatively, Sabahans and Sarawakians can observe Sept 16 as Malaysian Constitution Day.

The Malaysian Constitution can be considered an unwritten/uncodified Constitution made up of various constitutional documents including the Malayan Constitution 1963/Federal Constitution, the Sabah Constitution 1963, Sarawak Constitution 1963, Cobbold Commission Report, Inter Governmental Committee Report, UN Survey Report, Malaysia Bill, Malaysia Act, Malaysia Agreement 1963, 20 Points, 18 Points, Adat, and any other constitutional document – oral, verbal, expressed or implied – which serves the purpose of making up the unwritten/uncodified Malays
ian Constitution.

The radicals among rights activists see Sept 16 or 916 as Occupation Day when Malayan troops marched into Borneo as British troops left.

The DPM’s statement is a contradiction in terms since Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has publicly invited rights activists in Borneo; he referred to them as separatists, to meet with him. He wants to listen to them. 

Obviously, they will be raising the issue of the formation of Malaysia when they meet with the Deputy Home Minister. Many of these people were still in school when 916 happened. Obviously, they want answers!

We do know from declassified colonial documents (A.J. Stockwell), that the British, after World War II, wanted to shed their defence burden in Borneo and Singapore, and this meant merging Singapore with Malaya, the merger being facilitated for demographic reasons by Sabah and Sarawak, and also they wanted their commercial interests and empire in Borneo, Malaya and Singapore under one administrative framework.

It was the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle of ending the British Empire in southeast Asia.

The British got what they wanted.

Singapore probably did not want to get kicked out of Malaysia but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The peninsula has forged ahead since 1957.

What about Sabah and Sarawak?

Who asked them what they wanted?

What have they got to show for the last 51 years?

This is the question to ponder on this Sept 16!


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