COMMENT Malaysia is 47 years old through the unification of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in 1963. (Singapore was separated from Malaysia in 1965.)
The Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu-Kuching relationship must be relooked because of the imbalance between the centre and the periphery.
Most importantly, the 20-Point Agreement has been largely ignored in making the Malaysia that we have today.
Initial attempts by Sabah first chief minister Fuad Stephens to do so resulted in him being made Australian High Commissioner.
As a result, there were regressions from Sabah’s 20-Point Agreement and Sarawak’s 18-Point Agreement as seen in the “Allah” controversy and the ban on the Malay language Bible.
Both agreements on religion state that there should be no state religion for Sabah and Sarawak.
The “Borneonisation” of the public service as agreed to in the deal has also been violated. Over the years, more public servants from the peninsula were transferred to Sabah to fill in the void.
Unfortunately, an ignorant Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri recently stated that Sabahans in the interiors should be grateful as Sabah’s inclusion in Malaysia had ensured development in the state.
Using development as a bait is wrong because “development is the one term most used by politicians to cheat the people” (quoted from a Malayalam movie).
If development had indeed been provided, why is the road network in both states still bad? My brethren from both Sabah and Sarawak can attest to the fact that Sabah and Sarawak are two decades backwards compared to Peninsular Malaysia.
What development is Rahim speaking about when my brethren over there are still having difficulties to complete 11 years of education?
Contrary to Rahim’s statement, Kuala Lumpur has gained more than Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in the 47-year-old relationship.
The most recent evidence was Barisan Nasional’s slim majority in the 2008 general election, which was only made possible because of the safe deposit votes from Sabah and Sarawak.
In addition, the Mahathir administration should be “thanked” for initiating the IC project that created BN voters out of illegal immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines
To address the imbalance, more autonomy should be accorded to Sabah and Sarawak. It can be initiated by increasing the petroleum royalty from the current 5% to 20%.
Secession by both Sabah and Sarawak is out of the question as it violates the agreement
K Pragalath is a former journalist.