BY SIDI MUNAN (Borneo Post NOVEMBER 4, 2018, SUNDAY AT 12:10 AM)
General view of the Inter-Governmental Committee meeting showing officials from Sarawak, North Borneo, Britain and the Federation of Malaya at the Operation Room in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 18, 1963.

I’M appealing to those who are well versed in the provisions of the famous Malaysia Agreement 1963 to tell us Sarawakians what exactly have been the failings or weaknesses in terms of the implementation of recommendations or the observation of any of the safeguards for Sarawak.

It would be useful if someone would kindly point out where or what specifically the shortcomings and the complaints about MA63 are all about.
For a subject of such importance – agreement for the creation of a modern state – all those citizens who are interested in the future of their country should have access to the right information on specific breaches, if any, of that Agreement.

We have enough of generalisations. One cannot discuss the contents of an agreement intelligently without reading the actual text of that agreement -at least once; twice would be good, repeatedly would be better.

Get a copy before you go to the next talks on MA63.

The agreement in a nutshell

Known to some people as the London Agreement, it was signed in London on the 9th of July 1963 by representatives of the United Kingdom, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

It contains 11 Articles and Annexures from A to K.

Here are some of my notes discerned from the document. To know more about Sarawak’s position vis-a-vis the Agreement, it is highly recommended that we read the document TOGETHER with the Federal Constitution, Sarawak Constitution, Report of the Cobbold Commission and the Report of Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC). Read the spirit and the letter into the Agreement and those related documents.

There is no shortage of other literature on Malaysia. Read them all.

Article VIII of the MA63 is one of the most relevant provisions for our purpose this Sunday.

It states: “The Governments of the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak will take such legislative, executive or other action as may be required to implement the assurances, undertakings and recommendations contained in Chapter 3 of, and Annexes A and B to, the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee signed on 27th February 1963, in so far as they are not implemented by express provision of the Constitution of Malaysia.”

Let’s pause here.
At this stage, it would make life simpler if the ardent advocates of Sarawak’s rights could point out where the governments of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak have not taken such legislative, executive or other action as might have been required to implement.

What are those assurances or undertakings and recommendations as contained in Chapter 3 of, and Annexes A and B, which have not been implemented in the letter and the spirit of the Agreement?

Chapter 3, above, refers to the proposed constitutional arrangements in respect of Religion, Immigration, Education, Citizenship, Federal Legislature, State Constitution, Distribution of Legislative Power, Land, National Council for Local Government, Financial Provisions, Elections, The Judiciary, Public Service, National Language, Special position of the Indigenous races, Constitutional safeguards, Proceedings questioning the validity of a federal or State, Existing laws, Emergency Powers, Transitional Arrangements for Federal Departments, Pending legal Proceedings, International agreement for financial and technical aid, and Consent of Conference of Rulers.

The Agreement spells out jobs that the partners – Federation of Malaya and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of Singapore and the colony of North Borneo and the colony of Sarawak – must do before a new federation could be formally created.

For instance, Malaya was tasked to pass legislation in the form set out in Annex A (Malaysia Bill) to the Agreement including making 31st of August as the Malaysia Day while the United Kingdom was to pass legislation relinquishing Her Britannic Majesty’s sovereignty and jurisdiction, with effect from 31st August 1963, in respect of North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore and to vest such sovereignty and jurisdiction in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement and the constitutional instruments annexed to that Agreement.

Among those constitutional instruments were the final drafts of the Federal Constitution, and Constitutions of the State of Singapore, State of Sabah and the State of Sarawak, respectively.

Another important job that Malaya was to carry out under the Agreement was to pass legislation in the form set out in Annex E to the same Agreement to extend and adapt the Malayan Immigration 1959 to the Federation of Malaysia as well as to make additional provision with respect to entry into the States of Sabah and Sarawak; and the other provisions of this Agreement shall be conditional upon the enactment of the said Act (legislation in Annex E).

Any question here about Malaya’s responsibility?
Under the Agreement, United Kingdom was responsible for the submission of Orders in Council to Her Britannic Majesty for the purpose of giving the force of law to the constitutions of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (drafts in Annexes B, C and D).

Question ?

The Malaysia Agreement also re-affirmed the application of The Agreement on External Defence and Mutual Assistance between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Federation of Malaya of 12th October, 1957 and its annexes to the new Federation of Malaysia, provided that the Government of Malaysia would allow the United Kingdom to continue maintaining the bases and other facilities in Singapore and to use them for the purpose of assisting in the defence of Malaysia, and for Commonwealth defence and for the preservation of peace in South East Asia.

This part of the Malaysia Agreement is rendered irrelevant as far as Malaysia is concerned because Singapore is no longer a part of the Federation of Malaysia.

However, are the other parts of ‘the defence agreement’ still applicable to the existing Malaysia? An answer to such a question would be good for the morale of the ordinary people including Sarawakians.

Is it true that the MA63 is invalid?

The Agreement that created the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 has even been questioned as to its legality. Yet no one has requested a court of law to interpret it and determine the legitimacy of its existence. Fancy living in a country whose existence is being questioned by many of its own citizens.

For the past decade or so, many Sarawakians especially those of the younger set have taken a keen interest in Sarawak’s rights in Malaysia. The slogan ‘Sarawak4Sarawakians’ promoted by a group of activists has caught the imagination of many people in Malaysia. Politicians seeing its popularity have hijacked the idea for their own purpose. Suddenly, everyone is claiming to be a champion of Sarawak’s rights.

Then they blame the MA63 as the roots of the problems in the State, making the leaders who participated in the meetings about forming Malaysia half a century ago a convenient scapegoat. Some politicians demand re-examination or review of the MA63.

Recently, the newly- minted Federal government decided to form a committee to look into the grouses surrounding MA63.

The committee

Snippets of information about the committee are available but details are yet to be made public. The intelligentsia among the general public are wondering what the committee wants to achieve and if they have got the mandate to review the Agreement. Is it a committee to review the terms and conditions of MA63 or just a group of politicians trying to interpret certain provisions relating to what rights belong to the State and what rights belong to the federal Government? We do not know as yet about its terms of reference.

One of the questions in many people’s mind is: Has any existing partner or party to the Malaysia Agreement ever reneged on any of its terms and conditions to the detriment of the interests of the other partners or parties at any time during the course of the past 55 years?

In the famous quotation attributed to Apai Tun Jugah is this: “Malaysia anang macam tebu, manias ba pun, tabaraba ujong” (Let not Malaysia be like the sugar cane – sweet at the lower part, not so sweet towards the upper end).

Or like what Temenggong Lawai Jau had feared “I see Malaya like a fruit garden, a garden already flourishing, with ripened fruit and ready for eating. Furthermore this garden is fenced round securely with a fence made of belian. On the other hand what can I say about Sarawak? If Tengku could only see for himself he would see how small the garden is, how freshly planted it is, not yet fully mature, not yet fully established. He would see that it has a fence indeed but only a shaky one, one made of bamboo…What happens to a garden when you try to plant trees and shrubs under big trees? They are simply eclipsed by the shadow of the big trees…and never bear fruit.”

Or have we forgotten about what Lord Cobbold writes in his Report at paragraph 237? “ …It is a necessary condition that from the outset Malaysia should be regarded by all concerned as an association of partners, combining in the common interest to create a new nation by retaining their own individualities. If any idea were to take root that Malaysia would involve a ‘take- over’ of the Borneo territories by the Federation of Malaya and the submersion of the individualities of North Borneo and Sarawak, Malaysia would not be in my judgment, be generally acceptable or successful…”

Or are we to agree totally with the late Datuk Amar James Wong when he said “Thank God for Malaysia”!

IF and when the proposed Committee meets, we hope that they will prove all the misgivings wrong or fears misplaced.

Let’s move on.

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Source: Borneo Post

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