Asean nations should not turn a blind eye to simmering issues affecting East Malaysia, said Sabah State Reform Party (Sabah Star) chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
KOTA KINABALU – Asean nations should not turn a blind eye to simmering issues affecting East Malaysia, said Sabah State Reform Party (Sabah Star) chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
While ideally, no nation should interfere in the internal affairs of another nation, Jeffrey argued that in the modern era, no nation should stand idle and watch from afar the mistreatment of fellow humans in another country.
“In the modern era of democratic nations, good governance and human rights, the Asean grouping should move with the times.
“It should not just be confined to trade, economy and a common market, as it appears to be moving towards, but be more similar to the European Union,” he said of the forthcoming Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat to be held here.
Jeffrey added such assistance was not unprecedented, as Malaysia had helped Rohingyas in Burma and brokered the Bangsa Moro Peace Framework, between the Philippine government and the Moro faction in the southern Philippines.
Ina statement today, he stressed that in 1963, due to the design of the British and Malayan governments, Sabah and Sarawak were dragged into the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.
The Federation of Malaysia was supposed to be a new nation, comprising a family of nations and not to be a unitary state.
Jeffrey said the supposed merger and partnership with special rights and constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak had since turned into”internal colonies” of Malaya, re-named as Malaysia.
As a result, he said the political franchise of the indigenous natives in Sabah were usurped by foreigners, who were given dubious identity cards and MyKads by the Malaysian government.
These foreigners were given instantaneous rights as Malays with Bumiputera privileges, to the detriment of the indigenous natives.
“No ethnic group, not even Malays, can claim a better right and birthrights to their motherland in Sabah than the indigenous natives in Sabah, which comprise 32 ethnic groups of many religious beliefs.
“The once-majority indigenous natives and original inhabitants have been reduced to be the minority and marginalised.”
For the past five decades, Jeffrey noted that the basis of the Malaysia Agreement had not been complied with and instead was eroded by the federal government through its “sheer dominance”.
Advisers to the Chief Ministers of Sabah had become compliant to Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, he added.
The rights and autonomy of Sabah, he claimed, had “slowly but surely eroded and whittled down by the Federal government”.
The federal government, Jeffrey lamented, had even threatened to amend the Sedition Act to make it seditious and a criminal act for anyone to voice the rights of Sabah and Sarawak in the federation.
He said with 10 Asean ministers visiting Kota Kinabalu for the next few days, there was now an opportunity for them to look into the plight of Sabahans.
“Their diplomatic questions could end up as assistance to the indigenous natives and original inhabitants of Sabah and see to the review of the Malaysia Agreement or a referendum for self-determination under the auspices and supervision of the United Nations and Asean.”