An Article by Voon Lee Shan, former State Assemblyman for Batu Lintang

Sabah and Sarawak were acquired by the Federation of Malaya on 16. 9.1963 to enlarge its territories. By enlargement of its territory, the Federation of Malaya took a new name called the Federation of Malaysia. Therefore, Malaysia is Malaya and Malaya is Malaysia.

The United Nations was notified of this by Dato Ong Yoke Lin, the Permanent Secretary to the United Nations from the Federation of Malaya. Britain had informed the United Nations that Malaysia was not a new nation. Was this what Sabah and Sarawak wanted when negotiations took place which led to the Federation of Malaysia?

It is a human nature that no one like to be taken for a ride and it is for this reason, voices are heard seeking exit. When a person or a country is being cheated or deceived to enter into an agreement, he or his country has an intrinsic right to get out of the situation. Can Sabah and Sarawak do this?

The Federal Constitution, being the supreme law of the land doest not prohibit exit or cessation. What the law does not prohibit, then, there is nothing wrong to ask for exit from the Federation of Malaysia if done properly. Dr. MAHATHIR in New York recently said the people of Sabah and Sarawak did not ask for independence but autonomy only. Many legal minds said implied from what Dr. Mahathir said, Sabah and Sarawak therefore are deemed colonies of the Federation of Malaya and they implied too that Sabah and Sarawak being colonies could seek or ask for independence.

Why not do it?

The International Court of Justice(ICJ) had opined in the recent Kosovo case, it is perfectly legal under international law for Kosovo to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia.

In a very recent Chagos Island case won by Mauritius few months ago, the ICJ opined that only sovereign countries could sign treaties. Sabah and Sarawak when they signed the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), were not sovereign States and were still colonies under Britain when their representatives signed the MA63. Therefore, there is doubt as to the legality of MA63.

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