Of late, I’ve been writing more often on Facebook. Recently, there was this debate with a group of people with legal background whom posted a proposition wondering why Malaysians cannot get it that we started our country from 1963 under Malaysia. According to them Malaysia is a new entity with a new constitution and our history starts from there.
I know some of them are pr supporters, but what I can’t understand is why we stoop so low to support a partisan view. This view as I see it started by Jeffry Kitingan claiming Sabah and Sarawak as independent states when they sign the Malaysia agreement. Thus the same level with the federation of Malaya.
Now, this issue has blown into a proportion of devaluating Merdeka and prioritizing Malaysia Day. This is evidently clear in the now DAP lean Star which gave covering for the merdeka events only on page 20 (after so many insignificant news) and Malaysia day event on pages 1,2 and 3. This is wrong. No matter how much hatred one has against UMNO please don’t deny the contribution of Tunku, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun Razak etc. Its treacherous and dangerous for our nation. The Star should give both merdeka and Malaysia day at least similar significance but never put the former lower.
I can understand if the confusion is from a layman but when it comes from qualified people its simply bewildering. So I’m putting in a simple FAQ form for better understanding:
FAQ1: What is the Malaysia Agreement?
In short its an agreement where Sabah Sarawak and Singapore join Malaya.
FAQ2: What was the status of Sabah and Sarawak when they sign the Agreement?
They were colonies of the British and they themselves recognise it as such. Article 1 expressly states:
“The colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak…shall be federated with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya as the states of Sabah, Sarawak…and the Federation shall thereafter be called Malaysia”
FAQ3: What? You mean they are colonies and not independent states? And to be federated as states in the Federation of Malaya? Are you sure?
Yes. The sovereignty at that time lay with the British. It is by the Malaysia Agreement that Sabah and Sarawak gained independence as a state within the federation of Malaya.
FAQ4:Where’s the proof?
Article 4 expressly states that it is an obligation of the Government of UK “to take such steps as appropriate to… secure the enactment by the Parliament of United Kingdom of an Act providing for the relinquishment, as from the Malaysia Day, of Her Brittannic Majesty’s sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of North Borneo, Sarawak….”
Yes. In fact the Constitution of Sabah and Sarawak as we have now and attached to the Malaysia Agreement had to be submitted to UK for it to be enforced. Article 3 states:
“The Government of UK will submit to Her Brittanic Majesty before Malaysia Day Orders In Council for the purpose of giving the force of law the constitution of Sabah, Sarawak….”
FAQ6: So its undeniable that Sabah and Sarawak were not independent states as at Malaysia Date as alleged by Jeffry. Anyway when is Malaysia Day in the Agreement. It must be 16 September 1963 right?
No. Article 2 stipulates that “Malaysia Day” as 31st August 1963. It was always intended that it should coincide with Merdeka.
FAQ7: Really? Why 16 September? What’s the significance?
Apparently there was a delay. There was a protest by the Indonesian government. The fact that Lee Kuan Yew’s birthday is also on the 16th September seems coincidental. An uncanny one though.
FAQ8: My oh My!!!
Its for all to interpret. What is clear is that Sabah Sarawak and Singapore were always intended to join with 11 other states of the Federation of Malaya on 31st August 1963. The extended Federation of Malaya by such date is to change name to Malaysia.
That’s why we have thus always focused on 31 August as the main celebration for the federation. Its a scenario where 3 new states join an established federation and typically in such scenario, the newer states follow the conventions of the existing federations. Its like Hawaii joining the federation of states in the US in 1959. No one ever argues that US starts from 1959.
FAQ9: So that would mean, like the US, there was no new constitution in 1959. Our constitution should thus date as at 1957.
Correct. We amended the 1957 constitutions to include the states of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. In fact in 1963 we made around 118 individual amendments to our constitution just to facilate the entry of Sabah Sarawak and Singapore into the 1957 constitution. It is to my knowledge the biggest amendments made at one go. Any statement that we have a wholly new Malaysian constitution in 1963 is incorrect and false.
FAQ10: So Jeffry and the PR cohorts lied all the while, did he?
Either he is utterly ignorant or lying through his teeth. In 2010 he states:
“The facts of history are; One, that we Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore formed Malaysia as equal partners with equal powers and status.Two, Malaysia is formed through a MERGER and NOT A TAKE OVER OF ONE PARTY BY ANOTHER. Three, Malaysia was to be a new Federation, and not a unitary system. Four, Sabah and Sarawak shall not be equivalent in status with the existing states within Malaya because Sabah dan Sarawak were equal partners and it was Malaya who signed the Malaysia Agreement not the individual states. Five, Sabah and Sarawak would retain their individualities and would have special right and autonomy as outlined by the 20 Points / 18 Points. These are the facts of history.”
No one reading the Malaysia Agreement can sensibly deduce to such conclusion. Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia as states in the Federation. The constitutional document that was agreed and governing us now reflect as such. Leading constitutional experts attest to this fact. Our history starts at 57. We welcome our new brothers in 63. In the future there could be a scenario where we may in fact add a new territory. No matter how many join or secede from our federation, it does not and could not in any way diminish the fact that the federation was born in 1957.
Let me quote leading scholars on this, Professor A. Harding who wrote that “…Malaysia came into being on 16 September 1963…not by a new Federal Constitution, but simply by the admission of new States to the existing but renamed Federation under Article 1 of the Constitution…” See Harding (2012).The Constitution of Malaysia – A Contextual Analysis, p. 146.
See also JC Fong (2008), Constitutional Federalism in Malaysia, p. 2: “Upon the formation of the new Federation on September 16, 1963, the permanent representative of Malaya notified the United Nation’s Secretary-General of the Federation of Malaya’s change of name to Malaysia. On the same day, the permanent representative issued a statement to the 18th Session of the 1283 Meeting of the UN General Assembly, stating, inter alia, that “constitutionally, the Federation of Malaya, established in 1957 and admitted to membership of this Organisation the same year, and Malaysia are one and the same international person. What has happened is that, by constitutional process, the Federation has been enlarged by the addition of three more States, as permitted and provided for in Article 2 of the Federation of Malaya Constitution and that the name ‘Federation of Malaya’ has been changed to “Malaysia””. The constitutional position therefore, is that no new state has come into being but that the same State has continued in an enlarged form known as Malaysia so.”
So let us be truthful and stop these lies and falsehood. Lets celebrate Merdeka for 1957 independence as well as 63 admission. Let 16 September be celebrated as a day our brothers from Sabah and Sarawak join. But we shall not devalue and diminish merdeka like the DAP leaning Star now is doing or like our left wing pro PR leaders. It was an abhorrent reporting by the Star. It was a treacherous act by the sick partisan politicians we now have.