Friday, 6 September 2013

Selamat Hari Malaysia ke 50, September 16, 2013

Understanding the Malaysia Agreement, 1963
50 years ago, a brand new Federation joined the growing community of nation-states in the post-colonial world.
The first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj in his “Merdeka Malaysia” speech on 16th September 1963 said:
“The great day we have long awaited has come at last --- the birth of Malaysia. In a warm spirit of joy and hope 10 million people of many races in all the States of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah now join hands in freedom and unity. We do so because we know we have come together through our own free will and desire in the true spirit of brotherhood and the love of freedom.”

The Tunku’s declaration clearly stated the historical fact - as per the Malaysia Agreement signed on 9th July 1963 - that this new Federation was formed by four independent and equal partners, namely, Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo {Sabah} and Sarawak.
Fifty years on, a vast majority of Malaysians are blissfully unaware that this was an agreement between “equal partners”! Most continue to believe the myth that Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore {till 8th August 1965} were additional three States that were conveniently ‘appended’ to the eleven (11) States of the Federation of Malaya, to make a bigger entity called Malaysia.
The historical fact is that the Federation of Malaya ceased to be an internationally recognized entity on 16 September 1963. The Tunku in the same Malaysia Day speech in 1963 reaffirmed this fact when he said – “The Federation of Malaya now passes into history.”
Today many continue to treat Sabah and Sarawak as one of the 13 States of the Federation of Malaya! This mindset has caused many problems in terms of understanding Malaysia Day. In fact, the date 31st August continues to be regarded as Malaysia’s “Merdeka Day”, as if all the partners of the Federation shared the same independence day of Malaya! The fact is Sarawak obtained independence on 22 July 1963 and Sabah on 31 August 1963 when as former British colonies they opted for self determination.
Accepting the Terms of the Agreement
The process of agreeing to form the Federation was an arduous one that among others took into consideration the different levels of development of the potential partners. Specifically, the 20 & 18 Point memoranda were to safeguard the interests, rights and autonomy of the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Among others, it included the use of English as official language without time limitation; Control of Immigration; Control of Education and Borneoization of the Public Services.
In essence, this was a contractual obligation on the part of the partners agreeing to form the Federation. Some of the Points were incorporated into the new Constitution of Malaysia in 1963 and are an integral part of the Federal Constitution {Part XIIA – Additional Protections for States of Sabah and Sarawak}. Some other Points that were based on tacit verbal agreement between the leaders of the negotiating parties have been conveniently forgotten!
Over the past 50 years, they have been many instances where the principles of the Malaysia Agreement have not been honoured. The covert “Malayanisation” of the public services and education sectors, particularly in Sabah, are clear violations of the terms of the Malaysia Agreement.
This 50th year we all need to admit that either by design or default or just pure ignorance of history, we have done a great disservice to the people of Malaysia, past and present alike. We need to pledge to start afresh to truly understand the fundamental basis on which Malaysia was formed, and move forward as envisaged “in the spirit of brotherhood and the love of freedom.”
Celebrating Our Unique Diversity
We are indeed a country blessed with a bountiful diversity of natural and human resources. The official census classifies 40 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups however social anthropologists have documented Malaysia’s rich ethnic and cultural heritage comprising more than 120 groups.
Globally, Malaysia is well known for its unique diversity, both in terms of people, and its biodiversity. Unfortunately while foreigners marvel at our uniqueness we are either quite ignorant or simply do not appreciate this diversity.
In recent times, influenced by the partisan politics of identity, some of us are even quite happy to distance ourselves for each other as some kind of “alien beings”! We have allowed a small but loud, reactionary, bigoted segment within our society to set the agenda for the nation. We the silent, peace loving majority must be united in sending the unequivocal message to this noisy minority that they have no right to speak on our behalf.
The way forward this 50th year is to eschew the old fashioned notions of power - that dominance of one group over the other is the basis of survival for any given group. The survival of Malaysia as a collective is paramount. Leveraging and synergizing our unique diversity in truly inclusive ways would only benefit all our people. We need to focus on the “similarities” that bind us as human beings and as Malaysians first, not on the “differences” that we sometimes imagine divide us. For this to happen, we all need to commit to advancing true acceptance and understanding of the history, the heritage and the tremendous potential of this wonderful and unique land we call our Home.
Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia [GBM] is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-faith Coalition of 25 Civil Society organizations (listed below) established in 2011 to champion the cause for a Better Malaysia.
In line with GBM’s Charter that states-
National unity must be premised on the heterogeneous nature of our society and be forged through promotion of the principles of equality, based on the true spirit of muhibbah, genuine respect and mutual understanding,”
-this 50th Year of Malaysia, we have taken this initiative to provide the platform for Malaysians to come together in the spirit of camaraderie to focus on the “positives” in our beloved Nation.
We hope this Forum provides the opportunity to put forth positive and empowering solutions to address the issues that tend to divide us as a society.
Importantly, we hope this initiative will be the first step in moving forward our Nation in order to create an inclusive nation that is founded on justice and fairness.
------------------------------- Breakline -------------------------------
All Are Welcome!
“Understanding, Accepting and Celebrating Diversity”
18 September, 2013 (Wed), 7.45pm, KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
· Welcome by Emcee
· Speech by Mr. Zaid Kamaruddin, Vice-Chair, GBM
· Souvenir Presentation/Photo
Each speaker has 20 minutes
Moderator introduces Panelists
· Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Minster in the Prime Minister’s Department
· Ms Jannier Lasimbang, Ex-Suhakam Commissioner/Secretariat Director, Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS)
· Dr. Dzulkelfly Ahmad, Executive Committee Member, PAS
· Mr. Prematilaka KD Serisena - Hon Secretary General, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST)
Mr. Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Exco Member, GBM
Q&A/Good Night
Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia(GBM)
Plan of Action for Malaysia (PoAM)

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