KUCHING (Bernama) – The idea of “Sabah and Sarawak leaving Malaysia” is one that has been there since the formation of the Malaysian Federation on Sept 16, 1963.
The people have spoken, and what they wanted was a prosperous country with a clear vision.
Therefore when the issue of secession resurfaced recently, the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem could not help but react in disappointment. When speaking in Miri at the Malaysia Day celebration recently, he not only criticised those who brought up the issue but also described the idea as foolish.
He said it was unfortunate that after 51 years, there were still those who advocate an idea that was rejected by the majority.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Adenan in his speech in Miri at the celebration said the spirit and determination of the people of Sarawak and Sabah show that they are proud and satisfied with the wise leaders who opted for independence with Malaysia.
“We will not be going back and are going to defend the sovereignty of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia and as the prime minister, this is my responsibility.
“If there is an attempt to undermine the national security and sovereignty, be prepared to face the full force of the law,” he said.
In Sabah, the movement to separate Sabah from Malaysia gained momentum around 1990-1991.
This was following the arrest of seven activists under the (now abolished) Internal Security Act for being involved in the separatist plot.
The seccesion issue was touched upon and discussed from time to time, and manipulated into political fodder come election season.
Sarawak approached the issue in a more indirect manner. The call for the state to leave Malaysia was much subtle than the method practiced by its neighbour.
However, notions like “Sarawak for Sarawakians” were spread far and wide, calling for locals to rise and forward various claims to the federal government.
The movement also took advantage of the uninhibited nature of cyberspace to disseminate the idea, going from social networks to popular mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
It culminated in the formation of the Sarawak Association For People’s Aspiration (SAPA) and the United Borneo Front (UBF), which presented many arguments to substantiate claims that the formation of the Malaysian Federation in 1963 was illegal.
It also principally refuted claims that Sarawakians at the time agreed with the formation of Malaysia.
Adenan in his speech in Miri said Sarawakians were asked on three questions before the formation of the Malaysian Federation.
The first was whether they would like to be free and independent from colonisation; the second was whether the Sarawak people of different religions and ethnic groups would like to be with Tanah Melayu, Sabah (then North Borneo), Brunei and Singapore to form a new country, and third, whether they would like to form Malaysia under certain conditions.
He said Sarawakians at the time had responded with a “yes” to all three questions.
It was clear that due respect should be accorded to the support that was given. After the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak clearly benefited whether economically, socially or politically.
During the friendly football match between Harimau Malaya and Cambodia (Harimau Malaya won 4-1) that took place four days after the Malaysia Day celebration, the gesture of Joseph Kalang Tie after scoring the country’s first goal became the topic of hot debate.