I had been asked by many people over and over again the right of Sarawak to exit from Malaysia and how to do because Parti Bumi Kenyalang had in past two years been mooting with the idea of bringing Sarawak independent from the federation of Malaysia. Despite many statements been issued by me, I hope Sarawakians will know their rights and how Sarawak could exit from the federation of Malaysia
To clear doubts, this is what I have to say:
*Grounds for Independence*
1. United Nations Assembly Resolutions 1514 & 1541 provide for decolonization of colonies. International law gives people the right to seek freedom and independence from colonial masters – see also the Treaty of Versailles (1919) which promoted “self-determination” or the right to self rule. Britain had given independence to many of her colonies like India, Pakistan, Burma and also most countries in Africa and to her Caribbean colonies. Sarawak had never been given independence by Britain. Sarawak was handed by Britain to Malaya to enlarge the territories of Malaya on 16 September, 1963 (http://legal.un.org/.../pdfs/English/by_volume/1963/chpV1pdf)
2. The right to exit or for self-determination could be sought if there is intolerable political and economic oppression or suppression by the central government against the legitimate interest of the people of Sarawak affecting their life, liberty and property. These rights of Sarawakians come with the right to support and defend in the best manner Sarawakians can as being colonized and being suppressed by the federal government. These are called natural rights of Colonists.
Malaya being in superior position than Sarawak had made Sarawak a colony. The superior position of Malaya by controlling the federal government had passed laws and policies of arbitrarily taking marine wealth, oil and gas of our homeland, Sarawak. Malaya had also failed to provide proper infrastructure, such as not properly providing medical care, neglecting schools and failing to properly build and complete the Pan Borneo Highway for the past 57 years.
3. There is no prohibition under the federal constitution and international law to seek independence – see Kosovo’s case, the advisory opinion of United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered by Hisashi Owasda, President of ICJ – see The New York Times 22 July 2010. Dr.
Mahathir said in Free Malaysia Today on 29 September, 2019 that, Sabah and Sarawak *“…never asked for independence but they asked to have autonomy over certain matters”*
Therefore, there is nothing seditious and nothing illegal to seek independence. The federal government could not simply put any citizen in trouble if independence is sought within the law – see Malaya under Tunku Abdul Rahman got independence from Great Britain in 1957, Singapore exited from Malaysia in 1965. Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew had never been in trouble and never been harassed by the British. Tunku in a private letter considered Lee Kuan Yew his good friend despite Singapore broke away from Malaya.
*How to seek independence?*
1. By Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) or Independence Referendum (IR) by the Sarawak government, but, GPS government which comprises of PBB, SUPP, PDP and PRS had voiced not take Sarawak out Malaysia.
2. Through domestic court to declare the Federation of Malaysia had not been properly constituted under international law /or to declare Malaysia Agreement (MA63) null and void as invalid.
3. To challenge the legality of the formation of Malaysia in international legal avenues.
*Between Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and Independence Referendum (IR) which strategy is to be preferred in seeking independence?*
Some pro-independence groups including ASPIRASI and S4S prefer to exit from Malaysia by way of Independence Referendum (IR) while Parti Bumi Kenyalang prefers Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).
*What are the differences between IR and UDI and which one is more practical and effective?*
*If Independence Referendum is preferred…*
1. It is like lottery ticket. That is whether your lottery ticket strike or not to win the prize money. If the voters agree to continue to be federated with Malaya, then, Sarawak cannot get itself out of the federation. The desired result would be defeated and Sarawak will remain federated with Malaya.
2. To set-up blockchain technology for independence referendum could very costly. Independence referendum is time consuming and much money would be spent in campaign to get message right to the people.
3. While truth could be heard, there will be lots of misinformation and distortions of truths during the campaign and citizens may come with a wrong decision.
4. Federal government may not allow a Referendum Act be passed in the federal parliament to allow the Independence Referendum be held. To allow this, federal election laws may have to be amended to allow the Elections Commission (SPR) the power to conduct and to supervise the referendum.
5. If a Referendum Ordinance is preferred and has to be passed by Sarawak Legislature (DUN) only the government of the day, which has the numbers that controls the Legislature, can get the Bill passed as law. Meaning that, at least half of the 82 YBs in DUN agree to pass the Bill into law. If an Independence Referendum is held as allowed by the Referendum Ordinance without the blessing of the federal government and even if the people want to exit from the federation, will the federal government allow exit by way of the referendum conducted under the Referendum Ordinance passed by the Sarawak Legislature (DUN)?
6. Is there any advisory opinion by United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a guide on independence referendum? So far, could not find any.
7. Although Independence Referendum is democratic and represents the voice of the people but a popular decision in a democratic process may not always produce a right decision. Scotland had failed on 18 September 2014 to exit from United Kingdom by referendum.
*Unilateral Declaration Of Independence.*
1. The State government or the State Legislature can unilaterally declare independence (UDI). United States did this in 1776 from Great Britain while Rhodesia did this by Rhodesia’s Cabinet on 11 November 1965. Although there was a near-complete isolation by most countries in the world and from the Commonwealth and the United Nations, Rhodesia survived. Singapore also did it in 1965 and Kosovo in 2008, both now are progressive sovereign nations. Singapore exit from Malaysia was a Cabinet decision in August 1965 while Kosovo exit from Serbia was made by the Kosovo Parliament (Assembly of Kosovo) on 17 February, 2008.
2. Unilateral Declaration of Independence is recognised as legal under international law. There was a decision on this point of international law by the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2010 through the Kosovo case delivered by President of ICJ, Mr. Hisashi Owada.
3. UDI is a very much faster mode of gaining independence than independence referendum as there is no need to get approval from the citizens.
4. There is great certainty in achieving independence because the UDI could be decided by either the Cabinet or Legislature. If by Cabinet, strategies by Ian Smith’s Cabinet of Rhodesia or by Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore) are legal options opened to us and could be followed by us in Sarawak. If UDI is made by Sarawak Legislature (DUN), then, strategies by Kosovo Parliament has to be followed.
*If Sarawak is not free and independent, what happens?*
1. From 850,000 barrels of crude oil pumped per day by Petronas, Sarawak lost a daily wealth of about RM285 million. If this daily revenue from crude oil could be share by voting Sarawakians instead of being taken by Putrajaya/Petronas, each family could, perhaps, share a few thousand ringgits a month from this wealth. Oil production in Sarawak is more than many countries in the Middle East. And now, Petronas is pumping our crude oil non-stop. Likewise, Petronas is “sucking” our gas away too non-stop.
2. If Malaya could take away Sarawak’s oil and gas through federal parliament, there is nothing to prevent Malaya to take away NCR land of the natives and the tanah adat of the Malays through federal parliament too. No amount of amendment to the Sarawak Land Code could protect land of the natives and the Malays, if Malaya, through federal parliament wishes to do this.
3. Sarawak may lose all powers to control her immigration. At the moment Malayans could enter and work in federal government departments in Sarawak. This could lead Sarawak becoming “dumping ground” for undisciplined officers and unwanted characters. Sarawak can be infested by unwarranted cultures from Malaya that could disturb the religious and racial harmony of Sarawakians.
4. Other remaining rights in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) could be easily taken away with through federal parliament by Malaya by what had done in the past by laws passed in the federal parliament.
VOON LEE SHAN
Parti Bumi Kenyalang
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