By Queville To
KOTA KINABALU: DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has called for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on whether the expectations of Sabahans and Sarawakians in forming Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed over the past 50 years.
He stressed that this would be appropriate in view of the fact that in 2013 the country would mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.
“Have the people of Sabah been granted their full citizenship rights as Malaysians in the past five decades?
“Let the debate and soul-searching begin as to how one of the richest states in Sabah had been reduced in five decades to become the poorest state in the federation,” he said in a statement issued here on Saturday following a visit to Keningau.
Lim who is also the MP for Ipoh Timor is currently in the state on a three-day working visit. He is accompanied by the DAP MPs for Serdang and Segambut, Teo Nie Ching and Lim Lip Eng as well as Sabah state assemblyman for Sri Tanjong Jimmy Wong.
He recalled that before Malaysia was formed in 1963, the Cobbold Commission conducted a fact-finding survey of the people of Sabah and Sarawak for their views as to whether the new nation should be established out of the federation of Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei with Malaya.
“Numerous fact-finding tours were also organised at that time to send Sabah and Sarawak leaders to Malaya to see for themselves the benefits and developments Sabah and Sarawak would enjoy if they agree to the establishment of Malaysia.
“It was precisely on the dual promises of the constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak and the material and developmental rewards the two states would enjoy that the new Malaysian nation was formed in 1963,” he said.
He said that his visit to Keningau had reinforced his conviction that a RCI is vital as there are deep-seated frustrations and dissatisfactions that the two promises of constitutional safeguards and development progress for Sabah and Sarawak had not been realised.
The purpose of the RCI would be to help the government and people to ascertain and remedy the shortfalls of the constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak on the formation of Malaysia, he said.
The forgotten oath
Lim also shared his thoughts on the ‘Batu Sumpah’ at the Keningau District Office which read:
“BATU SUMPAH MENGIKUT PERLEMBAGAAN
1.Ugama Bebas dalam Sabah
2.Tanah Tanah dalam Sabah di kuasai oleh Kerajaan Sabah
2.Adat istiadat anak rayat Sabah dihormatkan dan dipelihara oleh Kerajaan.
Sebalik pula rayat2 Sabah di dalam interior bersumpah taat setia kepada Kerajaan Malaysia.”
“These were the terms of the oath of loyalty of the Sabahans from the interior five decades ago in exchange for the formation of Malaysia. Have these solemn pledges laid out in the Keningau Batu Sumpah been honoured by both sides?” he asked.
He claimed that many Keningau folks were distressed that the government had not honoured the terms of the Batu Sumpah.
It is generally agreed that infrastructural development in the state is far short of expectations and the DAP leader emphasized this by relating to the distressing sight of extreme poverty when he visited Kg Tuarid Liawan about 1.5 km from Keningau.
“In Kg Batu Biah about 8km from Keningau, there are water pipes for 15 years but with no water supply. In Tambunan, we saw a road in good condition but which was dug out last year and remade. I understand the digging of a good road just to rebuild it cost some RM150,000.
“After nearly five decades, many in Sabah and Sarawak still lack the most basic infrastructure to be found in the rest of Malaysia like regular electricity supply, uninterrupted piped water and good roads and bridges – and not bridges when there is no river,” he added.
He quipped that Sabah probably leads the country as the state with the most pipes without water and most electric poles/lines without power.
He also hoped Sabah and Sarawak Barisan Nasional MPs would speak up in parliament during the current parliamentary debate to endorse his call for the setting up of the RCI.