Tuesday, 17 March 2015
The EU – and its member-states – should not rest on their laurels: these independence movements are only going to get stronger.
One can imagine that the European Commission breathed a collective sigh of relief when the results of the Scottish independence referendum were announced on 19 September 2014.
The independence referendum had created a headache - if not a chronic migraine - for officials in Brussels, in trying to figure out whether Scotland would have to leave the EU and then reapply for membership (under Treaty 49, which was the official preference of former President Barroso and the Better Together campaign) or if it would allow Scotland to remain in by amending the EU treaties (under Treaty 48, the preferred choice of Yes campaigners and some dissident Commission officials).
If the process was seen as too easy, there were fears amongst the anti-independence camp (and parallel hopes amongst pro-secessionists) that this would cause a domino-effect across the continent as other stateless nations with aspirations towards independence in Europe would jump onto the indyref bandwagon.
But was this sigh of relief premature? For one thing, Scotland hasn’t been the only territory with an independence referendum on the cards this year. All eyes turned to Catalonia last weekend, where a non-binding vote on independence was held on Sunday 9 November. The Catalan authorities had previously planned to hold an official referendum on Catalan’s future, but this was suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Judges and politicians in Madrid have viewed the referendum as illegal and an egregious affront the notion of indissoluble Spanish sovereignty.
Madrid’s stern views scuppered a similar proposal in the Basque Country in 2008, whereby proposals to hold an independence referendum, which were passed by the Basque regional assembly, were ruled down by Madrid as unconstitutional.
These stern warnings did not stop the Catalan authorities this time, however. The unofficial poll was a success for Catalan independence-seeking parties: 80% of those who participated (about 2 million people) voted in favour of independence. While it is difficult to argue that the vote in favour of independence is binding with a turnout of 37%, it is an undeniably strong indication that Catalans want constitutional change.
The poll, however, has amplified the Commission’s migraine. Unlike the Scotland-UK case, whereby the UK Government agreed to holding the independence referendum in Scotland and promised to abide by the outcome (in the ground-breaking ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ of 2012), the ‘democratic will’ of the Catalan people has been slapped down by Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy, who has forbidden any future referendums and has attacked the recent poll as ‘political propaganda’.
What should the EU do? At the moment, the official position is to keep its head down and say nothing about the internal affairs of one of its valued member-states. But will this strategy work when more independence referendums – official or unofficial – add more cracks in the sovereignty of the EU’s currency member-states?
For Scotland and Catalonia are not the only cases of independence aspirations in the EU. The next country to watch, without a doubt, is Italy, whereby a poll released last month by Demos showed that 31% of Italians wanted their region to become independent, a figure that was significantly higher in several autonomist regions.
The highest was Veneto, a wealthy northern region of Italy with a strong identity, where 53% of survey participants preferred secession. This reflects the success of the nationalist parties in Veneto – most notably the governing Liga Veneta-Lega Nord (LV-LN) – in agitating for independence. The regional assembly passed a bill in June this year to hold a referendum on independence, and President of the Region Luca Zaia of the LNV promised that he would see this through.
These events follow an unofficial referendum in Veneto earlier this year in March, supported by several nationalist parties, whereby 89% of participants voted to leave Italy. While the legitimacy of the poll is questionable (as many Latin Americans of Venetian descent voted), another survey by La Repubblica has confirmed the Demos poll, showing that about 55% of Venetians want independence. And if and when the plebiscite is held, given these high numbers in favour of secession, there may be a greater possibility of success than in Catalonia or Scotland. However, everything will ultimately down to the Italian Constitutional Court which, like its Spanish counterpart, views consultative referenda on the fragmentation of the Italian state as illegal.
An unofficial referendum was also held in the German-speaking province of South Tyrol in 2013, which lies on the northern periphery of Italy and which was previously annexed from Austria. Here, over 90% of participants expressed their support for self-determination, and the pro-independence Sud-Tiroler Freiheit went on to win its highest share of the vote in the subsequent regional elections. The issue of secession from Italy is unlikely to go away, not least because it is the ultimate goal of the South Tyrol People’s Party, which has ruled the province throughout the post-war period.
Next up is Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean, which contains the oldest nationalist party in Italy and one of the oldest in Europe. The Partito Sardo d’Azione, whose electoral fortunes has risen and fallen over the past century, failed by one vote to pass an independence referendum bill in the Sardinian regional assembly in 2012. It would also appear that there is some public support for the Partito Sardo’s position, even if the party itself is lagging behind in the polls. In a collaborative project with the University of Cagliari that for the first time surveyed the attitudes of Sardinians on issues of identity and constitutional change, we found that 41% of Sards wanted independence, and a whopping 87% were in favour for greater devolved powers for the island.
These findings were confirmed in the Demos poll last month, which revealed that 45% of Sardinian participants were in favour of independence. The regional government is currently working on re-writing Sardinia’s special statute (constitutional law) to enhance the island’s fiscal, social and cultural powers. If these powers are not forthcoming, it is likely that the Psd’Az and other nationalist parties will succeed in their next motion to have an independence referendum, raising more questions for the Italian Constitutional Court on how to proceed.
And finally, few people now believe that the question of independence has been put to bed in Scotland. With a recent poll showing majority support for independence, the SNP’s surge in new members, and the self-implosion of the SNP’s main competitor – the Scottish Labour Party - it may only be a matter of time before Scots vote again.
The EU – and its member-states – should not rest on their laurels: these movements are not going to go away. Ironically, the EU appeared to have undercut independence demands in the 1990s by giving sustenance to the idea of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ whereby substate regions could sit alongside – or even replace – the states in the governance of Europe. However, when these hopes were dashed with the state-reifying bias of the Lisbon Treaty, nationalist movements across Europe radicalised their demands in favour of independence in a Europe of the States, as this now seemed to be the only way to get a seat on the top table of the Council of the EU.
The onus is now on the EU to figure out how internal secession within its borders might actually work – because there are now several wannabe states knocking on its doors. If the citizenry of these ‘stateless nations’ believe that their future is best secured with the trappings of statehood, the resulting configuration would be a ‘Europe’ fractured into a number of smaller territorial entities.
Ironically, this map of Europe may be very familiar to historians. Once upon a time, before the rise of the modern nation-state in the nineteenth century, Europe was a patchwork of city-states and small self-governing regions. ‘Small is beautiful’ was the mantra then; with the spread of independence referenda, are we seeing the natural return to this model?
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Agreement of Malaysia , Cobbold Commission , Exposing the Truth , Fact , Federation of Malaysia 16 September 1963 , Sabah , Sabah Sarawak Union (SSU) , Sarawak , Sharing No comments
The Cobbold Commission, was a Commission of Enquiry set up to determine whether the people of North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak supported the proposal to create the Malaysia consisting of Malaya, Brunei, Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak. It was also responsible for the subsequent drafting of the Constitution of Malaysia prior to the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The Commission was headed by former Bank of England governor, Lord Cobbold.
Members of the Commission were:
- Lord Cobbold, former Governor of the Bank of England, chairman of the Commission
- Wong Pow Nee, Chief Minister of Penang,
- Ghazali Shafie, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Anthony Abell, former Governor of Sarawak
- David Watherston, former Chief Secretary of Malaya.
The Commission released its findings, report and recommendations on 1 August 1962. It concluded that the formation of Malaysia should be implemented. However, Lord Cobbold also stressed that all parties enter the federation as equal partners. The findings were summarised by Lord Cobbold as follows:
"About one-third of the population of each territory strongly favours early realisation of Malaysia without too much concern about terms and conditions. Another third, many of them favourable to the Malaysia project, ask, with varying degrees of emphasis, for conditions and safeguards varying in nature and extent: the warmth of support among this category would be markedly influenced by a firm expression of opinion by Governments that the detailed arrangements eventually agreed upon are in the best interests of the territories. The remaining third is divided between those who insist on independence before Malaysia is considered and those who would strongly prefer to see British rule continue for some years to come. If the conditions and reservations which they have put forward could be substantially met, the second category referred to above would generally support the proposals. Moreover once a firm decision was taken quite a number of the third category would be likely to abandon their opposition and decide to make the best of a doubtful job. There will remain a hard core, vocal and politically active, which will oppose Malaysia on any terms unless it is preceded by independence and self-government: this hard core might amount to near 20 per cent of the population of Sarawak and somewhat less in North Borneo."
Lord Cobbold, Cobbold Commission
Table of Content
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION
TERM OF REFERENCE
- 1. ENQUIRY IN SARAWAK
- ENQUIRY IN NORTH BORNEO
- ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE
A-Recommendations on certain general matters
B-Recommendations by Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watherston
C-Recommendations by Dato Wong Pow Nee and Enche Mohammed Ghazali bin Shafie
D-Summary of Recommendations in Sections B and C, and Comments, by the Chairman
- OTHER MATTERS
- THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
B. Census Abstract
C. Cardinal Principles of the rule of the English Rajah
D. Legal Meaning of the Term "Native"
E. North Borneo and Sarawak Governments Papers on Malaysia
F. "Memorandum on Malaysia" Submitted by the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee
Map of the Borneo Territories
COMMENT: In September last year figures derived from the e-Kasih government programme (to combat poverty) revealed that Sarawak had overtaken Sabah as the state with the largest number of poor people in Malaysia – more than 100,000 had registered under the programme that month alone!
This also meant that Sabah was the second poorest in a nation of 14 states.
This effectively meant that after 52 long years within the federation of the Malaystates, when once as British Protectorates, both our states had enjoyed relatively abundant wealth, relative independence and a form of self-rule within the limits of the Commonwealth, we have now been relegated to a state of almost bare survival impoverishment and just short of being beggars living with all the wealth surrounding us, but none to our name.
What if during that fateful time in 1963, both the Bornean states of Sarawak and Sabah had decided to unite with Singapore instead?
Singapore had struck out on its own – a small tiny dot of an island, with a population of 1.8 million; Sarawak’s 900,000 and Sabah’s 600,000 would only have added a mere 1.5 million to give it a total of 3.3 million, with an overall slight majority of Chinese balanced by Dayaks, Kadazans and Malays.
At the time Singapore had virtually nothing to speak of, no natural resources, a small island with no basic infrastructure nor industry and no land for agriculture. The Bornean states had all the arable and fertile land, with a small population and no human nor monetary capital to speak of.
With great foresight and planning and a hard working labour force at his command, Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP managed to lead and guide and forge that little red dot of an island republic into the world’s third richest country today – without all those natural resources, without having to ingratiate itself to any world power be it the USA, Russia or China. It had branded itself as “a friend to all, an enemy of none”. A virtual Switzerland in the Far East!
Today, the population figures have boomed with Singapore having 5.47 million people, Sarawak (1.43 million) and Sabah (2.48 million).
Here’s a comparison of the 2013 GNI per capita out of 199 countries – Singapore was No. 4 with US$76,860 (RM279,885) and Malaysia, No. 53 with US$22,530 (RM82,042).
In hindsight and retrospectively reviewing the current situation, what had happened?
Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, had been troubled by a groundswell of dissatisfaction among his Umno ranks that the number of Chinese in Singapore plus those in Sarawak and Sabah, could have easily tipped the balance of power between the Malays and Chinese if and when it came to the general elections; and eventually the power balance may lie in the votes coming in from a third force, a combination of the Peninsular Indians and Bornean natives of Ibans, Bidayuhs and Kadazans.
This was something that the early Umno politicos could not accept.
So, between having to take this risk or nipping it in the bud, the Tunku did the latter and had decided to “sack Singapore” from the Federation. The rest as they say is history.
If only our forefathers in Sarawak and Sabah had then taken a longer and more insightful look into what the future could have held ... that the Tunku would not be in power forever, that the new Umnocrats in the West would behave more and more chauvinistic and become more racial and more ultra-religious ... and that eventually there will be discord and bad management ... but all these were then only “what ifs”.
Our leaders then – the likes of Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Ong Kee Hui and Donald Stephens – would have had to sit down and negotiate with the likes of a young and tempestuous Lee Kuan Yew and a seasoned politician Goh Chin Chye – but they could, if they would, they might well have negotiated a union ... but again that’s all in the past – the “what ifs and whereforths”.
But if they had and they did and managed to form a Federation of Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah – whatever they might have named it – it would most likely have survived and prospered and done more, much more ... with the later years of discovery, exploration and export of oil, natural gas, some (controlled) timber extraction and immense agricultural exports.
Ah ... yes ... dream on ... yes indeed ... if only! We can only dream.
At the core of liberal values the protection of individual rights are paramount.
‘Classical liberalism’ therefore seeks to support the rights of individuals within, and sometimes even against, the state. It believes that individual liberty and the right to organise for social change through the free will of individual citizens, is essential for progress. The State on the other hand is most usually viewed as seeking to impose duties in its favour upon individual citizens, thus minimising change in favour of stability.
A liberal, outside the organs of the state apparatus, will therefore seek to maximise individual rights as a goal in itself and be, as such, in competition with the state’s perceived goals. The balance of the rights and duties of individuals within a nation (in practice the state) is in perpetual flux as the two sides jockey for influence.
A ‘Traditional Nationalist’ will on the other hand willingly accept the surrender of some individual rights in the interests of the nation, usually the state, for the ‘common good’. In periods of tension, such as war, civil strife or the threat of ‘terror’ the Nationalist sacrifice of citizens’ rights in the interests of all, in order to deal with the immediate ‘common’ threat, often becomes predominant.
The impact on the balance of rights and duties is today of particular pertinence as we enter the age of the so-called ‘War on Terror’. In order to increase the security of its citizens, Western Governments (including those that might call themselves ‘liberal’ in the loose sense of the word), have already begun to erode individual rights of association and privacy. Ironically the increasing diminution of these rights is creating an ordered society quite alien to a Classical Liberal (and a National Liberal).
When the personal security of a nation’s individuals is seen as paramount, individual’s exercising their right to ‘pull in a different direction’ to the orthodoxy are viewed as a luxury at best or as ‘potential fifth-columnists’ at worst. For liberals however this curtailment of individual rights disrupts the natural process of political change and renewal and the ‘authoritarian impulse’ is hard (for the state apparatus) to shed even after the perceived ‘threat to the nation’ has passed.
If we view then the classical/traditional versions of Liberalism and Nationalism as in direct conflict over rights and duties, is it possible for these opposing views to be reconciled?
INDIVIDUALS DO NOT EXIST IN ISOLATION
Liberalism does not see individuals as acting in isolation, for people interact. In modern society it is almost impossible to be independent of others; work and services make this unfeasible. Individuals therefore have to interact with others and in doing so often follow the moral codes and cultural mores of their immediate ‘locality’, ranging from their neighbourhood, community and through to the nation. Even if an individual rejects the state in which they live, it can usually only be in principle rather than practice.
We are therefore rooted as individuals within our culture and the type of society it has developed and created over the centuries. Indeed the sacrifice individuals make through taxation or service is only acceptable because they see themselves as part of a greater whole and perceive fellow citizens as partners in a shared way of life.
Society so organised is also necessary to prevent the ‘strong’ individual from abusing the ‘weak’.
A National Liberal recognises therefore that any viable nation-state requires social cohesion and that rests upon communal and patriotic i.e. national ‘unity’.
A MEANINGFUL NATION-STATE
Whilst pursued more often through the endeavours of the State, Nationalism actually stems from a love of (own) kind and the desire for self-determination. This includes the right to organise as a (national) group and as free individuals*2.
For a nation, as apart from a state, to be meaningful it must be a reflection of the values of its constituent parts i.e. its members, its individual citizens. A meaningful nation state therefore can only exist when its members can as individuals organise for social and political change (individual rights) through democratic means*3.
A National Liberal also recognises that there is a common culture within any nation and that this culture evolves from the choices and behaviour of its citizens and must be reflected in the outlook of the state. In the United Kingdom this culture is liberal in character and therefore the state’s values should be liberal.
We can see therefore that individual rights, such as the right to organise for political or social ends, are essential elements to any meaningful nation state and in turn such a state is required to ensure the order and cohesion necessary to protect individuals from one another.
National Liberalism represents the philosophy underpinning the idea of the liberal nation state whilst National Liberals are those who seek to find and maintain the necessary yet practical balance between the contradictions that will sometimes emerge between individual rights and communal duties. Failure to do so inevitably condemns societies to the abuses of omnipotent individuals or an omnipotent state. Some believe we already suffer from too much of both.
*1 “Classical Liberalism’ in its original form should not be confused with support for free-market economics or the more popular use of the term which might be titled ‘liberal affection’, which is often seen as opposing patriotic endeavour and cultural sentiment.
*2 When the state becomes a self-fulfilling entity seeking to perpetuate its own interests (usually of a political elite) rather than that of the citizen, we are observing Statism not Nationalism.
*3 We should also distinguish between the selfishness of a traditional nationalist who pursues the nation’s interests without regard to the interests of others and the liberal nationalist who pursues their interests on the same terms as others i.e. ‘what is right for me is right for you’.
Copyright to: NLP, PO Box 4217, Hornchurch, Essex RM12 4PJ – 2008
Federal constitution guarantees freedom of speech, however it has its limits, deputy IGP says
KOTA KINABALU: The Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim has stressed that the police will not compromise on acting decisively against anyone who tries to incite the public on seditious issues.
Noor Rashid said decisive action must be taken by the police to ensure that the people and country remained prosperous and secure.
“If we refer to the definition of Section 2 in the Sedition Act, (it is) called “seditious tendency”.
“Anyone who disputes the position of the (Malay) rulers, anyone who disputes the integrity of the courts that exist in our country, anyone who incites racial tension, we define (these acts) under Section 2 of the Sedition Act (1948),” he said.
Noor Rashid said this to reporters after closing the Police Station Heads Integrity Seminar (Sabah contingent) here today. Noor Rashid was commenting on police investigations against Doris Jones, who is associated with the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) movement.
According to Noor Rashid anyone who disputed articles under Section 2 of the Sedition Act would be subject to police investigations and appropriate action would be taken against them including being charged in court.
Noor Rashid said that although the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of speech in the country, the freedom does, however, have its limits. ”It means if we want to talk, we need to know the limits. If you cross the limits, then as police officers, with a view to maintain peace and order in the country, we will take action accordingly,” he said.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Exposing the Truth , Fact , Federation of Malaysia 16 September 1963 , Jeffrey G.Kitingan , Nationalist , News No comments
Jeffrey Kitingan joins the “war of words” between two former Sabah Chief Ministers on “Sabah rights”.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Sarawak, relegated now to the dubious distinction of being the poorest states in the Federation, can rise once again and become the richest states in the country in a “rags to riches” story, a reversal of the “riches to rags” story which began in 1976.
Bingkor assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan expressed confidence that this could happen once, for starters, Sabah and Sarawak “regain their position as Equal Partners of the peninsula in the Federation”.
At present, he pointed out that “the two Borneo states had been relegated to being the 12th and 13th states in the Federation” in the wake of Singapore ending, in 1965, its merger with the peninsula and its exit from Malaysia.
The emergence of Sabah and Sarawak as the richest states in the Federation, added Jeffrey who is also Star Sabah Chief, hinges on the Federal Government complying with the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land, on the return of revenues collected in the Borneo states.
The arrears of the 40 per cent due to Sabah alone from 1963 until now would definitely be more than RM50 billion, estimates Jeffrey. “This will not only make Sabah the richest State in the nation but one of the very few nations in the world with a positive reserve.”
He was referring to calls in the local media and the social media for two-fifths, or 40 per cent of the net revenue collected by the Federal Government in the Borneo states, to be returned to them in line with the Federal Constitution, and regaining oil and gas rights, among other rights issues.
He was also commenting on the continuing war of words in the local media between former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh and Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou and a former Sabah Chief Minister, on “the loss of Sabah (and Sarawak) rights”.
Jeffrey warned that the financial position of Sabah and Sarawak would worsen come April 1, “when the people are taken for a ride once again as fools”, with a double whammy i.e. the imposition of 6 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the abolishment of the Sales and Service Tax (SST) retained by the Sabah and Sarawak Governments, even as the crippling National Cabotage Policy (NCP) continues.
Under the NCP, Sabah and Sarawak cannot import or export goods directly even from nearby places like Hong Kong and China, but must do so through Port Klang, the designed National Load and Transshipment Centre. Carriage in Malaysian waters has to be via locally-registered ships, generally owned by shippers in the peninsula.
“Already, as a result of the NCP among others, the cost of living in Sabah and Sarawak is much higher than that in the peninsula while the standard of living is lower,” fumed Jeffrey. “At the same time, the minimum wage at RM800 per month in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan is much lower than the RM900 per month for the peninsula.”
Gambling companies, all based in the peninsula, are also siphoning away millions from Sabah and Sarawak.
Jeffrey, returning to his main theme, pointed out that under Part IV Item 2(1) of the Tenth Schedule in the Federal Constitution, Sabah and Sarawak are entitled to two-fifths (40 per cent) of the net revenue collected in the two Borneo states.
Sabah can be an advanced economy bringing prosperity to its people.
Why is the federal government ignoring the Federal Constitution and not returning the 40 per cent net revenue collected from Sabah and Sarawak?
”If the Umno Sabah and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders genuinely care for the welfare and interests of Sabahans, they should claim for the return of the 40 per cent net revenue collected from Sabah from 1963 until now,” demanded Jeffrey. “The tens of billions will propel Sabah into an advanced economy and prosperity for Sabahans.”
Petronas is making billions of ringgit from Sabah’s oil and gas, he noted. “Between 2012 and 2015, Petronas was expected to receive more than RM85 billion. Sabah only gets a measly 5 per cent share which is only about RM4.25 billion.”
”Major oil companies producing oil and gas from Sabah are paying billions in taxes each year.”
So are big plantation companies based in the peninsula but with huge acreages in Sabah and paying billions each year, he continued. “Billions more are collected as Federal taxes and other government revenue from Sabah businesses and ordinary Sabahans each year.”
“The Customs Department in Sabah alone collects more than RM830 million with another RM1.2 billion in GST for the remaining nine months this year.”
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 18 Points , 20 Points , Exposing the Truth , Fact , News , Sabah , Sarawak No comments
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28, 2015: Sabah and Sarawak would like some independence when it comes to decision making, a former Sabah Chief Minister said.
Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak wrote in his blog that currently the federal government not only decides on the development expenditure but also controls how, what and when it is implemented.
This, the Sabah speaker explained, causes delays, wastage and overlapping of functions between the state and federal agencies.
Many times, he claimed, the states are left out entirely in the decision-making process.
“The present system of the federal government practically running the states does not go down well with states that are supposed to enjoy a certain level of autonomy.”
By giving Sabah and Sarawak a little autonomy, Salleh said it would be a “good first step” by the Barisan Nasional to prove to the Sabah and Sarawak voters that it honoured the spirit of the Malaysian agreement and the 20/18 Point Memorandum.
Sarawak, he said, will be facing its state elections in about a year, followed by Sabah and this, he added, was a crucial matter to be considered in the not too distant future.
Sabahans and Sarawakians, Salleh stressed, must be made to feel they are partners in Malaysia and not servants of West Malaysian colonialists.
He said that whether this was the correct perception or not was another matter but one must not deny that this is how many Sabahans and Sarawakians feel.
Partial autonomy, Salleh said was a fair request.
“It can only strengthen Barisan Nasional in Sabah and Sarawak when Sabahans and Sarawakians are made to feel that they do have some say in their own destiny.”