Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Of Sabah, Sarawak, Keadilan, UMNO and Lee Kuan Yew

Sabah UMNO is apparently ill at ease that an alleged secret meeting took place between opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah Datuk Dr Jeffrey G. Kitingan and Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Sabah Umno eager to know what Keadilan discussed with Lee

Kota Kinabalu: Umno Youth Secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the movement will not tolerate any foreign interference in the affairs of the State.

Rahman said if such meeting was held, the movement is curious as to what was discussed.
What was discussed? That's actually a very good question. As MM Lee and Datuk Kitingan obviously forgot to invite me to the meeting, I don't have the answer.

But I will venture a guess, based on what I remember reading in MM Lee's memoirs ("remember"... because I've already returned the book to the library). In his memoirs, MM Lee mentioned when Singapore was forced to secede from Malaysia, that he was saddened to leave his friends in Sabah and Sarawak to "fend for themselves" in a Malaysia without Singapore.

I remember the phrase "fend for themselves" struck me as telling - as the exit of Singapore signalled a significant shift in the racial and religious composition of the enlarged Malaysia. The removal from the equation, of the counter-balancing Chinese population in Singapore, essentially placed the non-Muslim, non-Malay (although still Bumiputra) population of Sabah and Sarawak at the mercy of an overwhelming Malay and Muslim majority from the Western Peninsula (at the Federal level).

I also append an interesting and enlightening comment from a Malaysia-Today reader in response to this article:

Think of what I said, read the MT reader comment below and come to your own conclusions what they might have discussed.

supersonic wrote:

Many people have yet to know whether there was a meeting between Jeffrey Kitingan and Lee Kuan Yew, MM of Singapore. Perhaps Keadilan should confirm of deny this.

But what bloggers need to know here is the background for such a meeting --IF IT INDEED TOOK PLACE.

Sabah and Sarawak which joined Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963 were shocked were Singapore was evicted on 9 Aug 1965. The then Sabah and Sarawak CMs, Donald Stephens and Stephen Kalong Ningkan were not consulted at all and they felt deeply insulted. Sabah (with Singapore and Sarawak) joined Malaysia on the assumption that it was to be 1 out of 4, i.e Peninsular Malaysia (Malaya), Sarawak, Singapore and North Borneo. The leaders of Sabah and Sarawak were to find out later that in fact Malaya wanted them to join on the basis of the same status as any of the Malayan states, e.g. Selangor, Perak, Penang, etc. hence 1 out of 14. This was colonialism from Malaya and the last thing they wanted was to be free of British colonialism to be replaced by Malay colonialism from Semenanjung.

That is why Donald Stephens wanted to ask for a re-examination of the terms Sabah joined Malaysia. I think Stephen Kalong Ningkan wanted the same kind of re-examination too.

If they can't get this, Sabah and Sarawak wanted to become independent like Singapore.

UMNO responded by sending wheeler-dealer Syed Kechik to the 2 East Malaysian states to bring down UPKO and SNAP, Kadazan and Iban parties and to replace them with Malay/Muslim ones. Thus through all kinds of dirty tactics backed by the full might of UMNO, Syed Kechik managed to kick out Donald Stephens and Stephen Kalong Ningkan by 1967,

UMNO installed Malay/Muslim govts in Sabah and Sarawak such as USNO and PBB and what we see today in these two states, the background has been clearly explained.

Fast foreward to Jeffrey Kitingan. He is the ideologue of PBS where his brother Pairin led and came to power in Sabah in 1985 on the combined strength of kadazan and Chinese unhappiness with Malay/Muslim discrimination perpetrated first by Mustapha of Usno and then Harris Salleh of Berjaya.

Jeffrey wants Sabah's terms of entry (21 points agreement) to be re-examined, among which are Sabah's autonomy on immigration, position of English, position of Islam in the state, etc, Jeffrey's bottom line was political power to be held by Kadazans, English be given proper due in Sabah and Islam should not be official religion of state.

For his commitment to all these which would mean an end to Muslim-Malay domination of Sabah, Jeffrey was jailed under ISA.

Jeffrey was forced to switch from one party to another like changing clothes to fight for his ideals where at various stages he was seen to be a man of no political principles.

To date Jeffrey has come round one full circle.I am not surprized by his commitment to fight for a non-UMNO, non-Muslim led govt with equality of all races in Sabah, and to this he draws inspiration from Singapore which had been forced to quit Malaysia in 1965 because Lee Kuan Yew strongly opposed ketuanan Melayu and fought for Malaysian Malaysia.

Jeffrey's fight via Keadilan for a new Bangsa Malaysia would be similar in many ways to Lee Kuan Yew's Malaysian malaysia (incidentally the same as the DAP's) though not quite.
13/02 13:32:42

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