Were Sarawak and Sabah decolonised before Malaysia formed?

‘United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541 require decolonisation first before colonies allowed to determine their political future.’

There is no such thing as equal partnership within a federation, according to Universiti Malaya’s law professor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

During a talk organised by Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (SEEDS) entitled “Article 1(2): Re-Imagining the New Federation of Malaysia?” last Saturday, he failed to see the concept as doable in the near future.

“It may happen, but I don’t see that happening right now. If you see foreign policies and trade everywhere becoming more important, it basically means more central (federal) powers,” he said.

Voon Lee Shan.

In response to these assertions, Voon Lee Shan, who is a former Batu Lintang assemblyman, said while the professor may be an outstanding academic, he should investigate how Britain and Tunku predetermined the formation of Malaysia.

“There were secret communications between the British and Tunku to predetermine the birth of Malaysia,” he said. “Without looking into the birth of Malaysia, we will not do justice to ourselves.”

Where and what was the starting point … the point that arose from the predetermined idea of Britain to hand over Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya?

The Cobbold Commission Report was used to overcome obstacles set by the United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541 for colonies to gain independence but this was disregarded.

There must be decolonisation first before colonies could be allowed to determine their political future, but this was not done, Voon said.

Instead the Cobbold Commission Report was used to justify the wishes of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak that they had determined their political future by forming Malaysia without the need to be decolonised first.

The signing of the Cobbold Report of the Commission of Enquiry, North Borneo and Sarawak, at Knebworth House, London on 21 June 1962. The Commission consists of five members, and is chaired by Lord Cobbold, a former governor of the Bank of England. Its other members are Dato Wong Pow Nee and Mohd Ghazali Shafie, representing the government of Malaya, Sir Anthony Abell, and Sir David Watherston, the representative of the British government. H Harris acted as the Secretary. Photo source: Wikimedia.org

Without the Cobbold Commission Report, there would have been no MA63 and without MA63 there would have been no Malaysia.

Voon also hoped that Shad would not deny the history. What has happened was Pakatan Harapan, Warisan and even Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) have not spoken on the Cobbold Commission Report but had focused on MA63 itself when seeking amendment to Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution.

When reading literally and without examining the history of the formation of Malaysia, no lawyer can deny that MA63 was a valid treaty.

“We need to be aware that it was the intention of our forefathers that Sabah and Sarawak were to be equal partners with equal status with Malaya when Malaysia was formed. Lawyers and learned persons in the standing of Prof Shad Faraqui, should not disregard this. We did not come to form Malaysia as a state equivalent to any of the Malayan states like Kedah, Perlis, or Melaka.

“Sabah and Sarawak were countries when we formed Malaysia. It was a sad thing once Malaysia was formed, Dato Ong Yoke Lin, the Permanent Secretary to the United Nations from the Federation of Malaya notified the United Nations that the Federation of Malaya changed its name to the Federation of Malaysia when Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak were federated with Malaya,” Voon stressed.

The legal minds in the United Nations opined that Malaysia was not a new nation but was Malaya with a change of name only. Voon insisted that the public should be made aware of this.

The way that he looked at this, Voon likened Malaysia to a stillborn child on September 16, 1963. There were complications in the womb. When it was born, the child, Malaysia, was not alive.

Therefore, MA63 was not the birth certificate, but the death certificate that showed the child, Malaysia, was born dead. No official or power could rectify this fact. Parliament cannot use the Federal Constitution to validate the birth of Malaysia.

MA63 being a treaty signed by several nations could not under international law be rectified by the Malaysian Parliament. If the Parliament rectifies this, how would the international community look at Malaysia?

The best solution is to comply with United Nations Resolutions 1514 and 1541 to decolonise and then come up with a new agreement or political formation, if the parties would later agree.