Sabah, Sarawak memoranda not legally enforceable, author insists

Zainnal Ajamain holding his book and the Malaysia Agreement and Inter-Governmental Committee Report at the launch of the book on Oct 28, 2015 — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Zainnal Ajamain holding his book and the Malaysia Agreement and Inter-Governmental Committee Report at the launch of the book on Oct 28, 2015 — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Oct 28 — Sabah’s 20 Point Agreement with Malaya and Sarawak’s 18-point version do not have legally enforceable terms, author and Sabahan rights activist Zainnal Ajamain asserted today.

Zainnal said residents of both states who are seeking greater autonomy from Putrajaya should stop fixating on the two historic agreements when framing their demands for more independence in the two states.

“These two memorandums have no force of law,” he said at the launch of his book “The Queen’s Obligation” that delves into the history leading to the formation of Malaysia, here today.

“Those who talk about autonomy on education, health or increase in oil and gas royalties to be given to Sabah and Sarawak or more allocations should stop. Do not waste your time,” he said.

The 20- and 18-point memoranda were drawn up when Sabah and Sarawak were proposing to join the Federation of Malaysia, and some of the contents were later incorporated into the Federal Constitution upon the country’s formation.

Given the lack of enforceability in the two agreements, Zainnal suggested instead that proponents of autonomy apply the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Inter-Government Committee (IGC) Report to demand improved treatment from Putrajaya.

He said these two documents spelled out the rights accorded to the East Malaysian states at the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

“If you want to fight for more rights for the two states, you need to read these two documents thoroughly to understand their contents,” he said.

He said MA63 and IGC Report are the legacies left behind by Great Britain for the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Despite their significance, he said, most Sabah and Sarawak residents knew little of what was accorded to them as part of the agreements.

“Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not even know about the contents of MA63 and IGC Report when I met him before the last Hari Raya celebration,” Zainnal added.

He then blamed the Education Ministry for leaving out MA63 and IGC Report in the history textbooks taught in schools, claiming it to be a deliberate move to obscure the importance of the two documents from future generations of Malaysians.

He said the MA63 signed by United Kingdom, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore is the result of the work of the plenary sessions and working groups in the IGC.

“MA63, therefore, is one of the most important documents in the history of the Federation of Malaysia.

“Unlike the Federal Constitution which can be amended by the Malaysian Parliament, MA63 and IGC Report can never be amended by anyone, unless the territories that originally signed it decided once more to return to the negotiation table and re-negotiate a new future,” he said.

He further said that the MA63 was registered with the United Nations on September 21, 1970 by United Kingdom, giving it legal weight that Putrajaya cannot ignore.

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