Archive for the ‘Sarawak’ Category


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Bombala farmer, Hans Berekoven, and team of Malaysian nationals raised the Malaysian flag on the Luconia Shoals, 84 nautical miles of the coast of Borneo, Sarawak, while observed by the China Coast Guard.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-08/luconia-shoals-malaysia-flag-raising-incident-china-coast-guard/7681752

When he is not on his farm in the high country of south-east New South Wales, Hans Berekoven is an amateur marine archaeologist recovering artefacts from a shipwreck for a Malaysian museum.

He said during one trip, he had been harassed by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel that had been stationed off Luconia Shoals for the past few years.

The shoals are a cluster of reefs and a tiny island called the Luconia Breakers, 84 nautical miles off Malaysia’s Borneo coast.

“They were trying to push us out. When we arrived there and started diving, they would up-anchor and sort of circle around us, sometimes really close. It was a sort of gentle intimidation,” Mr Berekoven said.

China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims over the South China Sea.

The dispute has been a major flashpoint in the region, with accusations of China building artificial islands and damaging reef systems.

An international tribunal recently ruled China had violated the Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights as defined by the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

Since 1947, China has claimed a vast area of islands in the South China Sea, including the Luconia Shoals.

Professor Clive Schofield, an authority on marine jurisdictional issues, said that at 84 nautical miles from the Borneo coast, the Luconia Shoals were clearly on Malaysia’s continental shelf, and well within Malaysia’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as defined by the Law of the Sea Convention.

“So if there’s any jurisdiction and rights over the feature [the Luconia Shoals], then they are Malaysian and not Chinese,” Professor Schofield said.

Mr Berekoven said he was angered by damage he alleged was being caused by the China Coast Guard vessel anchoring on the reef.

“She’s got a massive anchor chain. Every time the wind changes or the current changes that big anchor chain is just making a hell of a mess of that reef,” he said.

Mr Berekoven chose Malaysia’s independence day, August 31 last year, to protest against the situation by raising the Malaysian flag on the tiny island.

It is the first time the video of the incident has been released.

“I took the curator of the museum that we’re working with, and a couple of other Malaysian friends, and a journalist from the Borneo Post,” he said.

They mounted a stainless steel flagpole into a cement footing and raised the Malaysian flag, as the China Coast Guard vessel watched from about 500m offshore.

“They must have got on the blower to Beijing and Beijing must have got on the blower to Kuala Lumpur, because suddenly there was a big kerfuffle in KL,” Mr Berekoven said.

The next morning, a Malaysian aircraft flew low over Mr Berekoven’s boat and the island.

“A Malaysian coast guard vessel was despatched. Went out there and unbolted the flag,” he said.

“It’s absolutely absurd. It’s 88 miles, well within the 200 mile economic exclusion zone, and they’ve forced the Malaysians to take the flag down — their flag, asserting their authority, their sovereignty.”

Professor Schofield said he was not surprised at Malaysia’s action, because Malaysia had traditionally dealt with issues by taking a quiet diplomatic route with China and avoiding public conflict.

Tensions over oil, gas and fisheries rights

He said tensions in the South China Sea focused on the wealth of oil and gas resources in the region, and freedom of navigation in the busy maritime trade routes.

“However, the importance of the fisheries is often overlooked,” Professor Schofield said.

“The South China Sea has been estimated to provide around 12 per cent of global fisheries catch.

“It provides fisheries which are vital to food security within the region, where potentially hundreds of millions of people have their primary protein requirements met by the fish from these waters.”

Professor Schofield said a rare exception to Malaysia’s quiet diplomacy with China occurred earlier this year when about 100 Chinese fishing boats arrived at the Luconia Shoals.

“For Malaysia there was a relatively strong reaction calling in the Chinese ambassador to protest against that,” he said.

Malaysia’s national security minister Shahidan Kassim was reported by the Bernama news agency as announcing the despatch of assets from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, and that the navy had been sent to the area near the Luconia Shoals to monitor the situation.

Professor Schofield said such an action underlined the importance of the fishery to Malaysia.

He said fisheries in the region were over-fished and under extreme stress with fish stocks declining.

“You have overlapping claims and rival fisheries fleets and no unified or rational management of those stocks. The potential for a collapse in the fisheries is a real and present one,” he said.

Mr Berekoven is preparing to return to Luconia Shoals to resume recovering artefacts from the nearby shipwreck.


Kota Kinabalu: The passing of La Salle Brother Datuk Charles O’Leary once again poses the calling for Sabahans, especially from Tanjung Aru’s La Salle School, to take up the vocation of being a La Salle Order of Teachers Brother.

Bro. Charles’ top regret was no student of Sacred Heart or La Salle schools had the calling, thus far, to pursue what he dedicated as a vocation all his life, although there were Malaysians from other schools who had served under him when he was Principal of La Salle Secondary School like Bro. Yohan and Bro. Justin who was from Tambunan.

He had hinted so to many people, including his students, but none seemed to have had the calling. Fr. Cosmos Lee, one of his students, who eulogised in the homily at the funeral of Bro. Charles, is among the few who became members of the clergy.

Fr. Cosmos Lee said during the funeral Mass: “I am not sure if Bro. Charles would have agreed with the Archbishop asking me to deliver the homily as I was among the few who dared to stand up to him.”

Bro. Charles once jested that if La Salle brothers were allowed to get married, probably there would be more than a few from the La Sallian family who would take up the calling in health and poverty and devote their life to God in the service of education for the young.

He had experienced the church’s trial and tribulation from the Usno era when the work permits of some foreign priests were not renewed and had to leave Sabah to the present challenges posed by extremist elements.

After the fall of the Usno regime, the new Chief Minister of the Berjaya administration Tan Sri Harris Salleh arranged small part of the funding for the construction of the school senior block hall.

Harris also lifted the Usno ban on Chinese cultural activities like unicorn and lion dances, which benefited the school as the renowned La Salle Lion Dance Troupe raised funds from performances for the construction of the school’s senior block canteen first besides others.

In many ways, the fear felt by some complacent and ignorant Sabah civil servants for Harris’ inspection tours during the Berjaya regime was what La Salle School students felt under Bro. Charles’ watchful eyes.

They appeared unreasonable and at times punitively harsh, but that’s what Sabah requires from a leadership perspective to get things done and achieved amid an environment of mediocrity and apathetic attitude, as a saying goes: “Progress depends on the unreasonable man…”

It may be that being the non-populist example of Bro. Charles as an educationist exemplar is too hard to follow for the younger generations. But the challenge is still open for Sabahans to consider the La Salle Order as a life vocation in the service of our youths.

Following are some of the late Bro. Charles’ sayings: “Stars shine and they show the way to safety, security and maturity, and that is the work of teachers whose vocation is to touch and form minds and hearts.

I wanted to be a star with a small ‘s’ no doubt, so that I could and can form and mould young minds and hearts and prepare them for life both here and hereafter.

God has blest me in my life and work and I would not forfeit the peace, satisfaction and fulfilment I have acquired in my calling for anything else that this world might offer. To God be the Glory.” – (Bro. Charles M. O’Leary F.S.C.)

DAILY EXPRESS SABAH

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Several unique characteristics go along with the name of Musa Aman. In him, Sabah has had a three-dimensional leader: a statesman par excellence, an astute businessman banker and a thinker with the courage of conviction.

Musa was a successful businessman/banker long before he entered politics but all his life he had strived to make everything he touched more value oriented. He had an inimitable style of winning hearts. He has several friends with views diametrically opposite his, but that has never come between him and them when it comes to frank sharing of ideas and feelings. Rarely does one find a leader with such a fine blend of toughness and tenderness.

Musa has contributed to Sabah polity in multiple ways. He remains the epitome of alternate political thought and functionality. He personifies patriotism. If attributes such as informality in interpersonal relationships, spirit of accommodation, respect for the opposite viewpoint, a complete non-compromising approach towards politics of hate and injustice, etc. are still to be found in present day politics, Musa – among others – deserves credit. His most important contribution is strengthening Sabah democracy. When power politics sounded extremely monopolistic and people wondered if the element of choice had completely vanished from Sabah polity, he didn’t need words to send the message “Boleh Bah Kalau Sabah” to the people with all the strength at his command.

He remains the first genuine leader, the first truly Sabah chief minister who managed to convince Putrajaya to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants and address Sabah’s Mother of All Problems – “Illegal Immigrants”. He also remains one of the first politician from East Malaysia who is working quietly with the Prime Minister to get an equity in Petronas for Sabah state apart from the oil and gas royalty of five per cent. And for his effort so far Sabah has gotten a 10 per cent stake in Petronas LNG Train 9 Sdn Bhd in Bintulu, Sarawak, which would generate additional revenue to the state and its people. Speaking at the investiture ceremony in conjunction with the 61st birthday of Head of State Tun Juhar recently, Musa Aman said ” Our commitments does not end here. Instead we will continue to double our efforts by working together with the Federal Government to mobilise various programmes to further raise the social status of the people and life quality.”

When Musa took over as chief minister, Sabah was literally on the threshold of the 21st century. And it was a new, young and assertive Sabah with surging aspirations, contrary to the old status quo-ist elements who were in denial. Musa recognised these burgeoning aspirations, and successfully struck a balance without compromising on Sabah’s fundamental values. His regime witnessed the stabilisation of the new economy, and he created an appetite for development-oriented governance.

In ensuring the success and excellence of the public delivery system, Musa pledged to provide good governance. He said, “Our first commitment to the people is to give a stable, honest, transparent and efficient government capable of accomplishing all-round development. For this, the government shall introduce time-bound program of needed administrative reforms, including those for the civil services”. Musa not only strengthened old bridges, he also tried to create new ones to overcome the distances between different social groups, districts and economic strata. His Midas touch impacted every sector of governance. His programmes and policies demonstrated his commitment to a strong and self-reliant Sabah, prepared to meet the challenges of the coming decade.

To make Sabah an economic power in the 21st century, he transformed the economic policy framework. Sectors like public sector enterprises, agricultural produce marketing, small-scale industries, urban land ceilings, highways, rural roads, elementary education, ports, electricity, communal land titles, oil and gas were all subject to far-reaching reforms and raised Sabah’s power graph in Malaysia. Sabah continue to be sought after by foreign investors, especially in the manufacturing sector. Last year Sabah received RM2.4 billion from local investors and RM1 billion was injected by foreign investors. Since the launch of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) in 2008 until August 2014, RM135 billion worth of cumulative investments have been planned and committed, out of which, RM45 billion have been realised.

The State Government has even implemented various programmes for the development of the people such as the Prosperous Mini Estates (Mesej), 1Azam, Local Economy Enhancement, Agropolitan Project and Housing Aid Programme as well as the Prosperous Village Programme. These programs aim to transform selected villages holistically by involving three main aspects, namely the development of human capital, economic progress and improvement in the quality of life.

On the forest front, Musa’s commitment to increase the Sabah’s total protected area must be appreciated as his role for making things happen, without whose support, the translation of policies into actions would not have come about. Today Sabah’s Total Protected Areas (TPAs) of 1,553,262 hectares or about 21 per cent of the State’s total land area is arguably the largest in Malaysia. This percentage has exceeded the original IUCN (International Union of The Convention of Nature) target of 10 per cent and even CBD’s (Convention on Biological Diversity) 17 per cent of various types of ecosystems. What is more important is that, TPAs of Sabah cover a wide range of ecosystems including : pristine lowland forests, pristine highland forests, montane forests, freshwater wet lands, mangrove swamps, peat lands, regenerating lowland Dipterocarp forests and Heath (Kerangas) forests, amongst others. Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon, have additional buffers for reinforced protection and dedicated wildlife corridors to address connectivity and fragmentation. All these possible because of Musa Aman.

Musa has launched to date many ambitious projects: highways to connect to Sarawak, Kalimantan and Brunei along with other towns like Tenom to Sipitang, and to every kampong by road. These projects also revolutionised the real estate sector, commerce and the rural economy. The improved road connectivity further integrated the state through a network of world-class highways, which puts Sabah on the fast lane to socio-economic development. This is indeed, the highway to prosperity!

Musa as the Sabah Security Chief encompassing governance doctrine is also seen in his strategic vision in regards to Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), a security area that stretches 1,733.7km along the east coast of Sabah, from Kudat to Tawau. Esscom was established on April 1, 2013, following the Sulu intrusion in Tanduo, Lahad Datu. With the setting up of Esscom and its restructuring last July 17, cases of cross border crimes in the Esszone have become less rampant. Efficient and effective mechanisms have been introduced such as curfew, and integrated operations which are ongoing. The establishment of the Esscom, re-evaluation of Sabah’s decades old illegal immigrants problem, economic diplomacy, and engagement with the Manila has re-written Sabah’s strategic governance system.

Under Musa Aman, Sabah has become a powerhouse of growth and had emerged as an important contributor to Malaysia’s development journey. Under his able leadership Sabah became known for its quality infrastructure and excellent financial management. Musa Aman’s governance in Sabah saw a government that listened to the people and one that built its success through equal economic growth in all sectors. Through innovation and emphasis on detail he brought in record investment that benefited people of Sabah and drew people from all over Malaysia to work in Sabah and make a living.


Newton’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This is one law that has found many practical uses in science, but in politics, Taib Mahmud has mastered it like no one else has. Taib Mahmud has used this before and in the last GE13, we saw it being used once again.

Taib Mahmud’s interpretation of Newton’s 3rd law should be seen in the context of his political strategy. Incite the Sarawakians somehow, so that they vote for him en-masse. No where else in the country is the Sarawakian Bumiputra so united and committed behind the Barisan National Sarawak as he/she is in Sarawak. None of the “kedaerahan” politics that pervades much of Borneo states even seems to make a beginning in Sarawak. In fact, the Sarawakian voter has conferred Taib with the title of “Peh Moh”or White hair just like White Rajah Brooke – something that no other politician has managed to earn.

Trust me, this is not just paranoia. I have observed Taib for many years and I can say this with confidence that his every recent statement and action indicates the launch of one more edition of his proven mantra. Do something that unites the Sarawakian Native vote. But how? Here’s where Newton’s 3rd law comes in: Say something that targets the Malayans or Putrajaya; get media to hyper-react and come to their defense. Gain advantage with the state’s Sarawakians. In short: “Push out the Malayans. Pull in the Sarawakians”. Some would say “very smart”. So what if it is “divisive”. Politics in Sarawak never bothered about things like that!

Let’s look at what all Taib Mahmud has been busy with recently.

Taib’s various interviews with the media is interpreted by naive political observers as being an attempt at reaching out to the natives in Sarawak. This bunch of naive political observers thought this was Taib’s steps towards remaining as chief minister for Sarawak forever and to make sure UMNO never enters Sarawak. But Taib has already figured out that UMNO and Barisan National has become too weak in Malaya and depend too much on Sarawak to remain in power in Putrajaya. This is the time for re-asserting power in his home state by winning handsomely. His focus is only on Sarawak right now. He has enough trouble in his home state. The economy is slowing down (yes yes…..read unbiased articles to understand this fact) and he is getting panned for his state’s Human Development Index figures and corruption. If he now loses Sarawak, he loses all chances to remain as chief minister and UMNO will step foot in Sarawak and hence create another Sabah senario, every Sarawakian knows this. On the other hand, if he wins Sarawak again in the coming Sarawak state election which is expected within the next 2 years, he is without doubt going to be the foremost chief minister who kept the Malayan colonist out from Sarawak, notwithstanding what Taib Mahmud or others feel.

Let’s analyze what Taib told the press recently. Taib Mahmud charged that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) does not “deserve” his cooperation in potential graft investigations as they have not been upfront with him. Taib said he was not afraid of being investigated by MACC as long as he was being treated fairly. “Up to you. They want to victimise me, let them. As long as they are fair I am not scared”. “They don’t deserve my cooperation because they have been quite naughty.” The interview provided Taib the platform to announce that he wouldn’t apologize to the Putrajaya control MACC because he hadn’t done anything wrong. Sounds strange assuming he was trying to appease the Feds? Imagine this. Taib talking to the Feds in their language and telling them on their faces that he wasn’t going to cooperate? What were the Feds expected to do? Howl with anger and pass judgments that Taib was guilty! What is the media expected to do? Scream untouchable Taib. That’s what it did! And what about the opposition? Of course, they all showed how untouchable Taib was. This is exactly what Taib wanted! All this has panned out so beautifully for him. Why? Because what will Sarawakian do when they hear so much media, opposition and criticism of Taib? They will react like Newton said they would. They will ring fence Taib. They will swear to themselves and to each other that they will get their “protector” elected. Brilliant, Taib Mahmud!

Consider also the Malay-language Bible “Alkitab” row. Malaysiakini reported Taib as saying “It was I who talked to the prime minister. I said to him that it was a stupid idea to stamp serial numbers. I told him it should be stopped and he said ‘yes I agree and I’ll put a stop to it’. So he went and stopped the serial numbers. Now there’s no more of this nonsense.” Again, naive observers may have wondered why Taib wasn’t seizing the opportunity to curry favor with the Muslims. But no, Taib’s objective was the same. He was interested in making a statement to the Christian Bumiputras. Again….push the Malayan fanatics….maybe even become a hate figure amongst them…..and earn the votes of the Christian Bumiputras! Brilliant, no? The hearts of Taib’s Sarawak Christians would have swelled with pride. Now that’s our leader!

Taib is said to be fantastic with PR. I agree. He will use every bit of available opportunity to further gain from Newton’s law. The recent Lahad Datu Intrusion is and example where he said the setting up of Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Lahad Datu intrusion in Sabah is a good move to find out the truth about what happened to avoid the government from being accused of creating the conflict. Taib cannot publicly use this issue to whip up support for himself, but in secret ceramah’s in Sarawak, Taib must be telling the Sarwakians – see what happens if we surrender our rights to the Malayans, let me handle this, only I can stop Putrajaya from stealing our rights! Give me your vote and I will make sure Sarawak is safe from Putrajaya!

The real truth is that all fair’s in love and war and politics. And no one can grudge Taib his political strategy. But it would help to know what one is getting into. No one expects Taib not to rely on his Dayak vote bank. There is nothing wrong in that. But one must recognize the downside of such a strategy. For the country and for his own party. Taib may want to ask why UMNO is dying to step foot in Sarawak and why Putrajaya wants him to retire as chief minister….the answer to that may make him wiser. Wiser than merely knowing Newton’s laws….


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENTIf the Government in Putrajaya is truly honest with itself, it will confront the fact that there’s very little sympathy in Sabah and Sarawak on the ground for the security forces apparently battling it out in Lahad Datu. It’s 50 years too late. They might as well pack up and go home and instead recall the Sabah Border Scouts and Sarawak Rangers.

At the same time, the continuing statements from one Jamalul Kiram III, the Manila press, the Philippines Government and Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sabah and Sarawak are being viewed in the right perspective.

Local political parties in Sabah and Sarawak are convinced, like the descendants of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague is the best venue to settle rival claims to the two Borneo nations. Already, the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan, has reportedly included the ICJ option in their draft Manifesto for the forthcoming 13th General Election.

The ICJ is also the best venue to address the fact that Singapore was expelled in 1965 from the Federation of Malaysia by unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal means. It’s an open secret that then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had the doors of Parliament locked until the MPs agreed to the expulsion of the city state from the Federation.

The general consensus across both sides of the Sulu Sea is that the Sabah/Sarawak issue will not go away unless there’s a final resolution one way or another. In the absence of a final resolution, the security of both Sabah and Sarawak will continue to be compromised and thereby affect investor and consumer confidence.  

Singapore Application would be a continuation of Pulau Batu Putih case

If Singapore is featured as well at the same time that the cases of Sabah and Sarawak are considered, it would amount to a revisitation of the Pulau Batu Putih hearings which saw the island of a few rocks being awarded to the city state.

The Singapore Application could be made by the Government of that island or vide a Class Action Suit commenced by concerned citizens seeking closure on an issue which has bedevilled relations on both sides of the causeway since 1965.

The descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate claim that they have private property rights to Sabah or parts of it. They further claim and/or used to claim that sovereignty over Sabah rests with the Philippines Government. This is a grey area since one Sulu Sultan apparently “transferred” his sultanate’s sovereignty over Sabah to the Manila Government by way of a Power of Attorney which has reportedly since expired.

Jamalul Kiram III claims to be Sultan of Sulu.

Sulu claimants, Nur Misuari don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah, Sarawak

At last count there were some 60 claimants to the Sulu Sultanship, not all being descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

The nine Plaintiffs viz. Dayang Dayang Piandao Kiram, Princess Tarhata Kiram, Princess Sakinur Kiram, Sultan Ismael Kiram, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, Sitti Rada Kiram, Sitti Jahara Kiram, Sitti Mariam Kiram and Mora Napsa were recognised by C. F. Mackasie, Chief Judge of Borneo, on 13 Dec, 1939 in response to Civil Suit No. 169/39.

The Judge ruled that the nine heirs, as the beneficiaries under the will of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram, who died at Jolo on 7 June 1935, are entitled to collect a total of RM 5,300 per annum from Sabah in perpetuity for having foregone in perpetuity the right to collect tolls along the waterways in eastern Sabah. The reference point was the deed of cession made between the Sultan of Sulu and the predecessors of the British North Borneo Chartered Company on Jan 22, 1878, and under a confirmatory deed dated April 22, 1903.

If the descendants of the nine heirs end up at the ICJ in The Hague, there are no prizes for guessing which way the case will go.

The Sulu claimants don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah.

Nur Misuari ready to do battle with a battery of lawyers

The Sulu Sultans of old were extorting tolls, virtually a criminal activity, from the terrified traffic along the eastern seaboard of Sabah. The Brunei Sultanate meanwhile denies ever handing any part of Sabah, or the right to collect tolls along the waterways, to Sulu.

The British North Borneo Chartered Company had no right whatsoever to enter into negotiations on behalf of the people of Sabah with anyone.

The entire land area of Sabah, by history, Adat and under Native Customary Rights (NCR), belonged to the Orang Asal (Original People) of the Territory.

The sovereignty of Sabah rests with the people of Sabah. This sovereignty was re-affirmed on 31 Aug, 1963 when the state won independence from Britain which had occupied the state after World War II. Therein the matter lies. The sovereignty of Sabah had never been transferred to Brunei, Sulu, the Philippines, Britain or Malaya, masquerading as Malaysia since 16 Sept, 1963.

Likewise, Sarawak’s independence was re-affirmed on 22 July, 1963 when the British left. Sarawak had been an independent country for over 150 years under its own Rajah until World War II intervened and the Japanese occupied the country. The war over, the British coerced the Rajah to hand over his country to the Colonial Office in London because they had plans to form the Federation of Malaysia with Sarawak as one of the constituent elements. British occupation of Sarawak was illegal and an act of piracy.

Nur Misuari claims that Sarawak had belonged to his family, from the time of his great great grandfather. He claims that he has the services of the best lawyers at his disposal to make his case at The Hague.

Cobbold Commission a scam by British and Malayan Governments

The outcome of any hearing at The Hague will be a forgone conclusion: the Sulu and Nur Misuari petitions will be struck out without even a hearing; the Court will rule that the people of Sabah and Sarawak never agreed to be in Malaysia; and Singapore will hear that its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965 was unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal. The people of Sabah and Sarawak must be given the right to intervene in the Applications at the ICJ which will determine their fate. There’s nothing to prevent the people of Sulu and the southern Philippines from throwing in an Application that the Philippines Government has no business to occupy their traditional Muslim homeland.

The people of Singapore decided in a Yes or Note Vote in 1962 to the idea of independence through merger with Malaya via the Federation of Malaysia. The inclusion of Orang Asal-majority Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was to facilitate the merger between Chinese-majority Singapore and non-Malay majority Malaya.

Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour after an armed rebellion in the Sultanate against the idea of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei being in Malaysia.

No Referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya on Malaysia. The Kelantan Government even took the matter to Court.

A sampling of community leaders conducted by the Cobbold Commission found that only the Suluk and Bajau community leaders, perhaps sensing some personal benefits for themselves as proxies of Muslim-controlled Kuala Lumpur, agreed with the idea of Malaysia.

Revolution another possibility to finish off Sulu, Nur Misuari, Manila

Orang Asal community leaders wanted a period of independence before looking at the idea of Malaysia again. They asked for further and better particulars on Malaysia to be used as the reference point for a future re-visitation of the Malaysia Concept. They were not provided these further and better particulars.

The Chinese community leaders, keeping the eventual fate of the resources and revenues of the country uppermost in mind, totally rejected the idea of Malaysia. They were not wrong. Putrajaya today carts away all the resources and revenues of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya and very little of it comes back to the two Borneo.

The Cobbold Commission disingenuously declared that two third of the people in Sabah i.e. Suluk/Bajau + Orang Asal supported Malaysia. The Commission made the same declaration in Sarawak where only the Sarawak Malay community leaders supported the idea of Malaysia for self-serving reasons.

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak – the facilitators of the merger between Singapore and Malaya – were not allowed to exit the Federation. This is a crucial point which will feature at the ICJ.

Security became an afterthought. But as the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and Sarawak, and the Lahad Datu intrusion, has proven, there has been no security for both Borneo nations in Malaysia. ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and ESSZONE (Eastern Sabah Safety Zone) comes too little too late, after 50 years.

In the unlikely event that the ICJ rules in favour of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari, it would be the sacred duty of Sabahans and Sarawakians to launch a Revolution and decapitate all the claimants to their countries from the Philippines.

This would bury the issue once and for all and shut up the Manila press and the Philippines Government.

Singapore’s re-admission to Malaysia, if it materialises, would not persuade Sabah and Sarawak to join the Federation as well. The people would want Malaya even quicker out Sabah and Sarawak. It would be the end of a long drawn out nightmare.

 

Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper — or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard — whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet.


Development without corruption is an ideal situation in Malaysian politics. Corruption and development is, at a stretch, somewhat acceptable. But corruption without development is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the Malaysian political scene has somehow have found ourselves in the second scenario and moving rapidly towards the last scenario. And it is within this such formula that incumbent Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the undisputed leader of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Chairman of the ruling coalition in Sarawak’s victory in the recent 10th Sarawak state elections 2011, needs to be seen.

The issue whether or not Taib Mahmud is a clean politician was never the key. It was whether Taib Mahmud had delivered, and on that count he scored. Perhaps not in the most raring of percentages but but he was adequately high on a scale of one to ten. In the Malaysian context, irrespective of corruption, development scores. If a politician at the helm of affairs demonstrates his intent and will to deliver as well as takes positive steps in that direction, similar to that of the Taib Mahmud Sarawakian government, then the electorate reposes its faith in him. This more often than not overlooks the incumbency factor. Taib Mahmud was voted in as chief minister for eight terms: the last one going beyond anyone’s expectations. The grapevine has it that Taib himself was not sure of winning but the people voted him in on three counts; the first being that only he can keep UMNO from coming into Sarawak, the second being that he had done for Sarawak what no other Chief Minister had and third being that development was high on the agenda.

There were stories about several family members benefiting billions during his regime but those allegations waned in the face of the work he had done. A great deal still remains undone but his intention and will to work benefited the people who voted him in and this alone is enough reason for the electorate to back him and ensure his return to office which he held for eight terms. In the case of Dr Mahathir, the issue also worked in his favour was the perception that his heart beats for the Malays although he is half-Indian and that even while the party or his confidantes made money left, right and center, he had electoral support till of course he made the fatal mistake of sacking Anwar Ibrahim for corruption and sodomy charges.

In Malaysia, race, religion or corruption comes into play when development takes a backseat. In situations like this, non-performing politicians have a field day in exploiting race and religion blocks to their advantage and they often succeed. Koh Tsu Koon was able to rule Penang and later managed to name chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan as his successor primarily because he helped UMNO and had the support of the Feds in the center, get electoral power and in turn had a role in decision making. But what dented Koh Tsu Koon’s unassailable position were his non-performance and confining his tenure solely to UMNO politics. That worked initially but later Penangites wanted results of governance where of course he failed miserably. The consequence: a total rout from which recovery seems a near impossibility as the recent 2008 election-results have demonstrated.

This is in great contrast with Lim Guan Eng’s human development agenda in which the situation is crystal-clear. Koh Tsu Koon’s UMNO discrepant policies brought Lim Guan Eng center-stage: His initial victory had little to do with him and more with being the protégé of then Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu and UMNO. Koh Tsu Koon’s Parti Gerakan who vouched for him throughout the years deserted him on the grounds that his UMNO sucking up politics were limited to his family and an inner circle comprising his relatives and maybe a handful of supporters. At the macro level Koh Tsu Koon had failed to deliver or do anything for the state, they argued. Worse still, he had put the clock back.

Lim Guan Eng reign checked these: corruption, accountability and transparency and followed this up with development. Not only did he bring back the dignity of Penangites but also stressed on the state’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principles. It is after many years in Penang that the state is finally transparent in its governance. In the face of all this, whether Lim Guan Eng and his minions are corrupted or not were non issues when it comes to voting him and his boys back to power. This can be said about Taib Mahmud or Musa Aman for that matter. Upon a better look, the way Musa Aman went about getting The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah to investigate the Mother of ALL Problems, “Project IC”, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners, was a brilliant move in spite of so much objections and even sabotage by Shafie Apdal and some UMNO Sabah chaps. Despite the drama he still managed to get it thru and convince Premier Najib against all odds, that this is the true meaning of development!

I stand corrected on my theory that people accept corruption only if it rides piggyback on development and never the former without the latter. Lim Guan Eng substantiates the first and Koh Tsu Koon the second. And although the the third option of development without corruption is an ideal situation, it is sadly rarely found in Malaysian politics. Even honest politicians, Musa Aman, who was voted in on grounds of his honesty and integrity, rued the fact that political parties need money to survive.

So with the way things are, it is less about corruption and more about being found out. Or even getting caught. Hence, solo development or clean governance in Malaysian politics is an ideal situation. In lieu with this, I have to single out Former Prime Ministers Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn whose integrity is beyond doubt, despite the various scams their Government had been besmeared with. But ask the man on the street or even Tengku or Tun Hussein Onn’s former political rivals and they will charge them with inaction but not dishonesty. In this case the clean image scores over governance.



HAVING witnessed democracy in action in the form of state assembly elections in Sarawak recently, it is worthwhile looking at what the Sarawak elections had exposed. Political analysts have already made pronouncements about identity politics, that is, the politics of race and community, being pushed to the side by new demands for development. They have pronounced on the virtues of being “with the people” in the manner of Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, as opposed to the “parachute politics” of Anwar Ibrahim.

Corruption has been mentioned, but in terms that are not very clear, at least to lay people like myself. Has this exercise in democracy proved that there is widespread anger at the corruption that exists in almost all parts of society, in public bodies and authorities as well as in private entities? From what one can comprehend, the answer is the familiar “yes-and-no” that analysts take shelter behind when faced with a phenomenon they cannot really understand.

The verdict cannot be against corruption in, for example, Sarawak, where the reputation of the ruling Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and the other Sarawak BN component parties combine is not of its being a group of saints, to put it mildly. For the record, the perception about the party that lost badly, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) which lost 13 of 19 seats it contested and its President Dr. George Chan Hong Nam, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, humiliating defeat in the hands of the DAP, is no better.

In Sarawak, no one will take you seriously if you claim that the Barisan National Sarawak is pure as driven snow; that the losing SUPP was seen as utterly corrupt, which is why it lost; and that the Sarawak BN and Taib Mahmud is responsible for the chopping down of most of Sarawak’s rainforests at the expense of the indigenous communities; and Taib Mahmud was also seen as corrupt and the protector of corrupt allies. The fact is that all of them are seen as corrupt.

Without making any solemn pronouncements on why a party won or lost, or the role played by rebel candidates of all parties in splitting vote banks, one can say with a degree of certainty that a rejection of corruption was not really the main issue in the election. And that is the truly worrying factor in this round of exercise of democracy.

Equally worrying is the sense one gets that the major political parties know this and are not really bothered. They also know, from the look of things, that the public protestation of corruption will never ever amount to anything as far as political power in our system is concerned. The parties strategise their moves and countermoves on the basis of other considerations, which they think to be more effective and relevant. So we can continue to bark corruption, coruption, coruption but nothing is gonna happen and nothing is gonna change, it has not change for the last 50 years.

An article that appeared not so long ago in The Nation cited a study by a group of scholars in the London School of Economics, which said that the comparisons made by various writers and experts between Malaysia and Singapore as emerging economic powers were erroneous; that Malaysia could never hope to be a rival to the economic powerhouse that Singapore already is. One reason given for this is the all-pervasive corruption in Malaysia.

This trend of thinking will in all likelihood catch on, despite brave words from leaders of Barisan National. One can sense it in the way the Malaysian stock market has behaved; in the way the ringgit has got weaker by the day; and in the general gloom among bankers, which they will not admit to publicly but will talk about mainly among themselves. It is not gloom about the immediate future – it is about Malaysia in the long term. It is, finally, about the nature of Malaysian democracy.

There are those who increasingly see signs of fatal flaws in Malaysian democracy because of the way it has developed. Political parties in power, from regional parties to so-called national parties, depend on corruption from the top down to survive, and survival is all that matters. An even more dangerous trend was the failure to improve the education standards.

Malaysia’s failure to provide quality education means that eventually our young men and women will lack the intellectual capabilities, leading to a falling off of quality of work, of skill levels and so on, with its inevitable ill effects on the economy as a whole. But are our politicians who are engaged in the task of survival, interested or concerned?

Eventually, one has to conclude that Malaysian-style democracy and the ills afflicting our economy, our industry, our infrastructure, our health services and our education system will ensure that Malaysia does not become an economic superpower, emerging or otherwise, and that it will have to depend on aid to keep itself going after all the natural resources have depleted. Then, multinational corporations will start to invest in other more lucrative ASEAN countries. Remember, Malaysia’s debts is now a whopping RM0.5 TRILLION.

Now, a lot depends on what young leaders such as Nurul Izzah and others such as Chief Ministers Musa Aman of Sabah and Lim Guan Eng of Penang do. There is little to be gained by looking at any other leader; those who are indeed leaders are either erratic and whimsical, or interested only in lining their pockets. Some like Taib Mahmud although in his twilight may well take Sarawak towards development, but he has to provide proof of that, as Musa Aman has done so admirably.



Sabah opposition is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four main parties, DAP, PKR, Sabah Star and SAPP including newly formed but not registered Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) headed by Wilfred Bumburing and Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS) headed by Lajim Okin. USNO Baru is also in the fray mobilising support using founder Tun Mustapha’s name, but, its yet to be registered and very unlikely that it ever will.

There is a remark attributed, perhaps apocryphally, to Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to the effect that most Sabah politics is mathematics, a number game. As political analysis goes, this remark proves insightful. Sabah politics is, in this view, not driven by ideology or charisma. It is constituted by the mundane activity of stitching together narrow interest-driven coalitions. And electoral fortunes, for the most part, do not turn on massive changes induced by immense persuasiveness of candidates. They turn on small swings, and contingent management of interests.

But if this political analysis is taken too literally, it can become spectacularly self-defeating. It can make politics a passive waiting game. As opposition parties in Sabah prepare to met and strategise, or assuming they ever will, a plan to commit to  one-to-one fights against the Barisan National in the coming 13th General Elections brews.

Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah headed by Anwar Ibrahim has little presence here but it has done well in other PKR states from 2008. Since the last election, it has not expanded its presence in Sabah although the DAP has its footing in the urban areas.

Lest we forget, elections are ultimately about the ability to project credibility.

On the economy, the Pakatan Rakyat states have done well so far. It has given an alternative to old-fashioned UMNO/BN politics, concocting better versions to solutions. In Parliament sessions it had the rulling coalition on the mat for the many economic mess-ups in the last four years.

The most polished personalities in the Sabah opposition scene, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee, don’t seem to show that they have what it takes to run the state economy like the way Musa Aman has, but has only seem to be harping on the Sabah Rights vis a vis the Malaysia Agreement 1963. They are also simply waiting for the Barisan National Sabah to make more errors to give them a lift. To make matters worse, internally, the Sabah opposition itself is faced with a series of simultaneous equations it cannot solve. The main one is of course the mistrust between Malaya based Pakatan Rakyat and Borneo based Star Sabah and SAPP.

Most commentators assume that the Sabah opposition’s central dilemma is between Sabah Rights and a more centrist position. But, arguably, this is not its biggest dilemma. It will never be able to persuade die-hard antagonists who think that Sabah joining the Federation in 1963 to form Malaysia is a mistake. Regrettable as it might be, it can probably get away with a game of calculated ambiguity, so long as it is not deeply polarising. Its central dilemma is that Malaya does not understand what federalism means for Sabah politics.

If politics has become genuinely federal, then there are implications for how political parties are organised. In an ideal situation, like what we see now in the Musa Aman Government, state-level leaders and units have to believe that there is a symbiotic relationship between them and the leadership in Putrajaya. Association with the Putrajaya leadership enhances the prospects of local units and that’s why we see so much positivity coming from the Musa Aman government today. But if the Putrajaya leadership does not significantly add to the state units’ prospects, or worse still, becomes a liability ( like during the PBS days) then the central high command has little authority over the state. On the other hand, a party composed entirely of state units can have no coherence at the centre, and cannot project itself as a national party, like in Sarawak. This is the basic structural dilemma faced by the Sabah opposition.

It is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four parties; DAP and PKR, (Malaya based), Sabah Star and SAPP (Borneo based). Except for Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee who can be considered local leaders, PKR and DAP does not have anyone except Anwar Ibrahim who isn’t local himself. So the question of who is going to lead the Sabah opposition becomes an issue. To complicate matters, PKR in Sabah is undergoing a leadership crisis. Anwar and his cronies have meddled and presented Azmin Ali, also an outsider, as a solution to a headless PKR in Sabah. Clearly, the Sabah opposition’s problem is that it has no charismatic local leader of any kind to take reign, althogether failing to see that the the average age of its cadres does not reflect new Sabah.

Since Yong Teck Lee’s myopic misjudgment in Bati Sapi Parliamentary by-elections, the Sabah Opposition has been groping in dark for a leader. There is a great clamour for Lajim Okin now however, even if we grant him administrative acumen (not slot-machine acumen!), his ability to give the Sabah opposition a direction is limited. Despite Lajim giving up his RM30,000 salary as a Federal Deputy Minister and resigning as Umno Supreme Council member, Beaufort Umno Division chief and Beaufort BN chairman, justifying his actions by way of an epiphany (Lajim claims, after 18 years, to have come to a realisation that Umno/BN had not done anything for the welfare of Sabahans) still makes him a polarising figure. Lajim has got too much political baggage. He will have to come up with some spectacularly convincing gesture of contrition to be acceptable to Pakatan Rakyat and Pakatan Rakyat’s potential allies in Sabah. There is also a curious and potentially fatal omission in his strategy to make himself acceptable. Sabahans still see him as  an UMNO member and Lajim has not made any special initiative to campaign in Sabah. If he is a potential chief minister, his energies would have been directed to mass engagement across the state. He remains a question mark in everyone mind.

The only long-term solution for the Sabah opposition front is to have a serious institutional reform on how they are run. But no incumbent leader wants this and there is the paradox that a leader must first acquire authority to do this within current institutional rules. It is said, with some justification, that any party that wins in Sabah will look a bit like the Barisan National. But the real issue is, which Barisan National: the idea or its debased version?

At the moment, the Sabah opposition is looking more like the debased version: it matches the Barisan National’s petty-mindedness with its own display of small egos. We can debate structural issues to death. The Sabah opposition will get a lot of advice from its faithful on what to do. But the harder issue to come to terms with is this: there is a kind of inchoate lack of will that characterises the Sabah opposition parties, it is as if it is not sincere. Much of its leadership is doing what it does, not because it sees a point to it, but because it does not have anything else to do. This is an ultimate kind of nihilism, politics as casual play, increasingly disconnected with everything around it especially the economy. They are unable to show that if they capture the state they could run it prudently and efficiently like how Musa Aman has, a cash reserve of RM3.3 Billion, and a state budget getting bigger and bigger to a tune of RM4 billion a new record, which was never heard of before Musa Aman.


Malaysia comprises of 13 states and 3 federal territories but only 4 states have chief ministers.

Elections to 3 state assemblies in Penang, Malacca and Sabah will be turned into a sort of referendum on the performance of the chief ministers. Whereas Sarawak had its state assembly elections in 2011, meaning Taib Mahmud would still be around past GE13 despite Premier Najib Tun Razak having told the people of Sarawak that he would ensureTaib steps down after the 2011 state election. Taib is unlikely to retire anytime soon as his Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) won all the 35 seats it contested in 2011. Besides, Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats and Taib controls at least 25 of them.

In all these states, the incumbent chief ministers are very popular and, as a result, the election campaigns will be strongly focused on their performance. As a result, national leaders of both the Barisan National and the Pakatan Rakyat have begun to realize that they actually have little role to play in these elections. Penang’s one-term chief minister Lim Guan Eng​, Sabah’s two-termed chief minister Musa Aman and Sarawak’s four-termed chief minister Taib Mahmud alongside relatively the low-profile three-termed chief minister of Malacca Mohd ​Ali Rustam, respectively, have all acquired a larger-than-life image in their states, making it difficult for opposition parties to easily dislodge them.

This has then given respective ruling parties in all these states an incumbency advantage. Whether all these chief ministers will succeed in their re-election bid will depend on whether they can overcome issues at the constituency level, especially in terms of candidates who don’t have strong track records. But it is increasingly clear to me that the chief ministers have put their parties in a strong position.

Many Malaysian voters have begun choosing governments not on the basis of party ideology and long-prevailing preferences but on specific party leaders. This trend has become more obvious with an increasing number of young people emerging as a major voting bloc. That’s because, in general, party loyalty and party identification among the youth is weaker compared with older Malaysian voters. Perhaps the youth have realized that it is better to focus on leaders rather than parties as there are good and bad leaders in all parties.

People are craving for leaders who are honest, easily accessible and have a strong, pro-rural and pro-people orientation. Incumbent chief ministers of the latest poll-bound states don’t necessarily have all these qualities. Yet, overall, they have performed remarkably well on these attributes; this is what makes it difficult for their challengers. I am not suggesting that these leaders could win without the backing and cadre of their parties. But they have added an extra element of strength and give an edge to their parties. Elections in Malaysia are increasingly focused on a specific leader is clear from recent electoral victories of Taib Mahmud in Sarawak, contributed hugely to his party’s victory.

In the case of Malacca, Mohd Ali Rustam, was barred from contesting in the UMNO elections, the UMNO Disclipinary Board found Mohd Ali guilty of violating party ethics for indulging in money politics and hence was prohibited from contesting the post of UMNO deputy president. But he still remains as the Malacca Chief Minister. In the past, it was only national leaders such as Dr Mahathir​ and Anwar Ibrahim​, and some regional icons such as Musa Aman, Pairin Kitingan and Taib Mahmud​, who had the magnetism to win on their sheer personal strength. Today, a number of chief ministers, such as Musa Aman and Lim Guan Eng, in these poll-bound states, have acquired this larger-than-party persona.

What is interesting is that all these chief ministers have emerged mainly due to their pro-development agenda. Most of them have implemented welfare-oriented and populist programmes to woo the electorate. Financial assistance schemes targeting the poor as well as rapid strides in basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges especially in Sabah have all been priorities for the respective chief ministers. These smart chief ministers have found a way of potentially overcoming the dreaded anti-incumbency factor so prevalent in Malaysian elections.

What this suggests is that parties ought to announce leaders in every state, especially those in the opposition, and let these leaders build up a profile. UMNO is benefiting in Sabah due to the image of Musa Aman as an urbane, decent and efficient chief minister. The recent visit to Sabah by Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and even the visit by Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Cathrine, all confirms that Musa has done a fantastic job in Sabah. Its a fact Sabah is the most successful state in Malaysia in attracting private investments. For the first quarter of 2012, Sabah under Musa Aman managed to attract private investments in the amount of RM10 billion, way ahead of other states. Among the reasons is having a stable, business friendly and a prudent government besides the environment in Sabah is well protected because of Sabah’s stringent forestry laws and strong conservation programme. Yet, the party’s’ dogged refusal to announce its chief ministerial candidates in other states, even where popular leaders are available and willing, is going against the voters’ tendency to choose leaders over parties.

Given the voter fixation with state issues and chief ministers, national issues have become rather irrelevant in these elections. Altantuya, Scorpene submarines, Sharizat’s 250million “Lembu” episode and price rise on food items, which the Pakatan hoped to raise in these elections in a big way, appear to have failed to take off as these elections have become virtual referenda on the performance of the chief ministers. If the UMNO/Barisan National fares poorly in Penang in this coming GE13, it will be mainly due to its inability to challenge the DAP’s popular chief minister Lim Guan Eng and not necessarily to the Barisan National government’s failures in managing the economy or maintaining internal security. So, even if it fails to win in the Pakatan-ruled states, this is a message that may bring solace to the Barisan National leadership and hopes in national elections to the Parliament that are due in March/April 2013.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT The latest talk along the political grapevine in Kota Kinabalu and the local media is that the Sabah People’s Front Party (SPF) might be more than willing to “accommodate” the so-called Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) on one condition: that the SWP fields and finances SPF candidates in Sabah under its (SWP’s) banner.

The alternative is that SPF, led by Deputy President Osman Enting, would apparently “go all out to destroy SWP”.

The prime-movers behind SWP aren’t taking the bait so far and are unlikely to do so since that would be tantamount to their admission of being complicit in an alleged illegality. It would have been quite a different matter if the story had not gone public. In that case, the prime-movers would have been more than willing to throw money at the problems to make them all go away.

Obviously, the purported “destruction threat” relates to SPF’s charge that no EGM was ever held by the party to approve the name change to SWP and the shifting of its headquarters, if any, to Kuching. Hence, the complaint goes, any minutes related to a purported EGM held by SPF on the matter were “falsified”.

The purported EGM was supposed to have been held at the Palace Hotel in Kota Kinabalu but in reality “only happened on paper”. The party constitution calls for any name change to be endorsed by two-thirds of its Supreme Council

The disclosure by Osman makes up the thrust of a police report lodged by him and 31 other senior party leaders in Kota Kinabalu on May 31 and a complaint filed at the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in Kota Kinabalu. Ironically, it was the ROS Sabah which obtained the name change documentation from Putrajaya and handed them over to SPF in response to an official request from the party.

The police report has been lodged with the Registrar of Societies in Putrajaya together with the minutes of a special party meeting convened on June 3 in Kota Kinabalu under Osman to suspend SPF president Berman Angkap and secretary-general Salun Dueasim. Osman heads the party’s disciplinary council.

The SPF’s reported “about-turn”, if true, is not just on. There are even reports that Osman has withdrawn the police report in order to “settle the matter internally”.

This is not a situation where “compromise” is possible between contending factions i.e. one led by Osman, another by the “suspended” president, and the third by SWP activists in Kuching.

Serious charges have been levied and the law must be allowed to take its course and those found indulging in wrong-doing must face the consequences of their action. The list of wrong-doers would include anyone in SPF who, on second thoughts, may be actively moving in the direction of the so-called compromise.

SPF’s name change to SWP is clearly non-existent in law although approved by the ROS on April 2 this year.

It’s a principle in law that if someone obtains official documentation and/or certification by falsification, deception, fraud and misrepresentation, then such documentation and/or certification is void and a nullity in law as if it never existed from the very beginning. The “approval” of the ROS does not exist in law.

For another, the ROS should not take lightly the rampant practice of “selling” and “buying” political parties. Indeed, such practices would not take place if the ROS had not been only too willing to be in cahoots with the Home Ministry to deny any application for registration of a political party deemed a threat to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. It’s unconstitutional.

SWP deputy president George Lagong, putting up a brave front, claims that the SPF’s registration certificate in the new name is “legitimate”. His group, led by “President” Larry Sng, “would not entertain any claims by SPF in Sabah”, according to George.

There’s genuine fear in those “earmarked for destruction” by SWP that the parties in conflict over the name change would be allowed by the ROS to paper over their differences, so to speak, in order to legalize an illegality. Clearly, this is not possible since the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

The overwhelmingly Iban Dayak-based Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), for one, which has been targeted for demolition by the “still-born” SWP is crying foul and is determined to see that the law is upheld and the miscreants face the music. It’s understood that the party has written to the ROS in Putrajaya for clarification and followed this up with a meeting.

The party intends to keep tabs on the SPF/SWP situation and ensure that the latter is not resurrected from the dead. The party is even prepared to claim locus standi, based on newspaper reports issued by SWP against it, and seek a Judicial Review in Court to squash the decision by the ROS to approve SPF’s name change to SWP and its migration to Sarawak.
Lawyers for PRS are confident that the party will win hands down if push comes to shove.

The consensus among the legal community and others in the know is that the police in Kota Kinabalu should follow up the report lodged by Osman and send the investigation papers to the AG’s Chambers. It appears that Osman cannot withdraw the police report if the allegations are true, and if untrue, he faces possible criminal charges for making a false police report.

However, 31 other witnesses cannot possibly be wrong when they alleged that the so-called minutes of the purported EGM had been falsified.

Independent of the police probe, the ROS is duty-bound to seek further clarification in writing and in person from those who collected the name change certification and have it recalled and suspended. There may be grounds here for the ROS himself to lodge a police report against those who collected the name change certification.

Needless to say, those who collected the name change certification to SWP and those listed as office bearers in Sarawak would be “blacklisted” by the ROS, Special Branch and the Home Ministry from applying for the registration of any new political party.

Meanwhile, the ROS would be further duty-bound to write officially to SPF to show cause why it should not be deregistered.

It’s a certainty, in that case, that SPF would be deregistered.

SPF’s latest woes can be traced back to certain quarters reportedly linked to Sabah Umno veteran Lajim Ukin. The veteran, it appears, forked out several hundred thousand ringgit to set up a new headquarters for the party in Kota Kinabalu with a view to taking it over. The sums may include that paid out to certain SPF leaders who were alleged involved in the purported EGM and the related minutes.

Unfortunately for those eyeing SPF in Kota Kinabalu, the party subsequently went on “sale” in Kuching where the modus operandi for its transfer and re-birth were hatched in not too many details.

SPF claims to have a membership of 50,000 in 42 branches throughout Sabah.

Its avowed objective is to drive Umno out of Sabah.

SWP claims to be BN-friendly except for its declared aim of wiping out PRS.

Larry had not so long ago claimed to be PRS President, a dispute which involved the ROS, and brought the party to the brink of deregistration if not for a timely move by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step in and support embattled President James Masing. PRS was quick to expel Larry and his faction from the party despite the best efforts of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to step in and save the young Chinese politician aspiring to lead the Dayak party.