It is not seditious for Sabah and Sarawak nationalists to call for secession from Malaysia if the agreements that formed the country in 1963 are not honoured, Sabah opposition politician, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said.
The Bingkor assemblyman, who is chairman of the Sabah STAR party, said the people of these two Borneo states which formed Malaysia with Malaya had been "taken for a ride and cheated outright" despite the Malaysia Agreement as the peninsula depended on these two states for political support and oil wealth.
"If the federal leaders care to listen, Sabah and Sarawak nationalists and activists are not seeking secession but restoration of the legitimate rights, privileges and autonomy of the Borneo states that were taken away or eroded since 1963.
"There was a basis that led to the formation of Malaysia and if that basis is not honoured, one of the lawful and legal recourse would be a de-merger or dissolution. In such an event, it is not secession," Kitingan said in a statement today.
The opposition politician has long campaigned against the Barisan Nasional federal government over issues of oil royalty, freedom of religion, alleged Islamisation of Sabah institutions and the local people as well as immigration which have change the demographic of the state's population.
Kitingan said secession was a legal right of a state if it had voluntarily entered a federation, citing Lord Landsdowne who had chaired the Inter Governmental Committee which had studied the proposed formation of Malaysia in 1962.
Because a state had this "intrinsic" right, it was "unnecessary to include it in the constitution", Landsdowne had said, quoted Kitingan.
"If secession is seditious and against the constitution, why was Singapore allowed secession in 1965? Shouldn't the Singapore leaders then be charged for sedition?" Kitingan added, noting that the federal government then had even signed a departure agreement with Singapore.
Kitingan also noted that "nowhere is it stated in the Federal Constitution that Sabah and Sarawak are not allowed to secede".
The federal government's decision to retain the Sedition Act and plans to make calling for Sabah and Sarawak's secession a criminal offence was a "huge mistake", he added.
But he welcomed threats to arrest and charge Sabah or Sarawak activists for sedition for making such calls, as prosecution would reveal "dark secrets and wrongdoings" against the people of both states.
Criminalising calls for Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia, Kitingan said, would "mark the beginning of the end and break-up of the Malaysian federation". – February 1, 2015.