By The Borneo Insider on February 18, 2014
The State assemblyman says such calls however should be heeded by the country’s leaders as it signaled the desperation of the people in the Borneo states
KOTA KINABALU: The loud calls heard in Sabah and Sarawak to secede from Malaysia as mentioned by an academic recently should be seen as a cry of desperation over the erosion of their rights as well as mistreatment, a Sabah lawmaker said.
But Wilfred Bumburing, the state assemblyman for Tamparuli, said the idea of secession from Malaysia is not the best option nor is it a practical alternative for Sabah.
He pointed out that as long as the Philippines claim on a part of Sabah remained along with the large illegal immigrant population there would always be an “external threat” hanging over the state.
“The Sulus are now more bold to exert their claim. The moment Sabah is out of Malaysia she will fall into the hand of the Sulus,” the president of NGO Sabah Reform Movement (APS) said in a statement today.
He said that even though a large number of illegal immigrants in Sabah were given Malaysian citizenship, their loyalty to Malaysia remained questionable.
Bumburing believes the heirs to the so-called Sulu sultanate have a long term objective to realise the claim.
“This fact must not be forgotten by the people in Sabah as well as the government,” he said.
He was commenting on a statement by Monash University academician Professor James Chin at a forum on Sunday that a slim majority of East Malaysians wished to withdraw from the Federation of Malaysia.
Chin said that there was widespread frustration in the two states with regards to what they see as an erosion of their special rights and mistreatment by the Federal Government.
But Bumburing said the blame for this sentiment could be laid squarely at the feet of the Barisan Nasional coalition.
He said statements by some BN leaders asking those who opposed the Umno-led BN coalition to leave the country or to look for another country to live in could in its widest sense be interpreted as a call to secede.
He said that statements that Malaysia is only for the Malays also did not help as Malaysia was not made up of only Malays.
“These are irresponsible statements. Those people asking other people to leave Malaysia just because they oppose the government must be stopped using all relevant laws.”
The former BN MP said national reconciliation was necessary to stop the rot and leaders from both sides of the political divide should “seriously look into this in order to save our beloved Malaysia”.
“Malaysia was formed on the mutual agreement by the founding fathers for a country with everyone having equal rights and freedom. For the first few decades the people lived fairly happily together with great hope for a great country in the future.”
However ill-conceived, peninsula-centric policies and heavy-handed efforts to concentrate power in the hands of a few started backfiring and the results were seen in the 2013 general elections when the opposition made major inroads in what was considered the domain of the ruling coalition.
In Sabah and Sarawak too people started to question why they were continuing to lag in development compared to the Malayan states and why they did not have a fair return from the revenue collected from the exploitation of their natural resources especially oil.
Bumburing said Malaysia had always been portrayed as a moderate country but following the elections, the ugly head of racial and religious extremism began to emerge and had made the country a laughing stock of the international community.
To make it worse, he said, the lukewarm government response to the breakdown in race seemed to indicate that the right-wing, racist groups had the tacit support of the government.
“The onus is on the government. I believe, by and large the people of Sabah are loyal to Malaysia but are demanding a fair Malaysia where all citizens are equal and live in peace and harmony.”
Bumburing also said the key to the feeling of inequality could be dealt with if the agreement over the distribution of parliamentary seats between Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah was reinstated so that all had an equal say on Malaysia’s direction
“As long as there is no fairness there will never be happiness for the real bonafide Malaysians in Sabah,” said the former Tuaran MP who noted how the natives in Sabah had seen how a large number of new voters had started to enter the electoral rolls and displace them as a political force.
On the plan by a new NGO called KDM Malaysia to register as a political party, Bumburing said it was their right but there were more pertinent issues that ought to be addressed by the government such as the causes of the racial and religious tensions permeating the country.
He noted however that the move by the leaders of the NGO also signaled the failure of the KDM-based parties in the BN in voicing the concerns of the people or perhaps was another bid to further split the KDM community in order to pursue a “divide-and-rule” policy on Sabah. – BI