Borneo NGOs commend Prof James Chin for summing up discontent of East M’sians over MA63 violations

THREE East Malaysian NGOs (non-governmental organisations) have backed the “10-point agreement” by renowned political commentator Prof James Chin who called for “re-affirmation” of Sabah and Sarawak secular and pluralist rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the shaky federation.

The Borneo Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIMAFO), the Sabah Sarawak Rights Australia New Zealand (SSRANZ) and Saya Anak Sarawak (SAS) noted that Chin had summed up the widespread dissatisfaction of the East Malaysians with the continuing violations of their fundamental MA63 rights by the Federal government for over 60 years.

“These have remained unfulfilled “dreams” and illusions. They include the illegal alteration of the MA63 secular, pluralist and multi-cultural concept of Malaysia, Borneonisation, autonomous self-government, religious freedom, denial of citizenship and failure to develop and advance Sabah and Sarawak as agreed,” the three NGOs pointed out in a statement.

“This is starkly heightened by the lopsided economic development whereby Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) has been developed with Sabah and Sarawak resources particularly oil and gas (O&G) while they have been left backward and impoverished with little progress even in basic structures and amenities.”

The unhappiness recently flared up over the TV Sarawak’s Christmas Carol programme which rejected the Association of Churches in Sarawak’s (ACA) request to include the song “O Holy Night” in the programme because of the former’s official policy that excludes “religious elements”.

This promoted the ACA to walk out of the celebration while issuing a statement that strongly criticised the censorship and asserting the religious freedom and secular nature of Sarawak society. Such move received popular support throughout Sarawak with the management of TV Sarawak quickly backed down on the exclusion of the song.

“In Sabah, there is a similar dissatisfaction over the failure to honour MA63 founding terms such as the MA63 stipulated payment of (Article 121D) of 40% entitlement to annual tax revenue among many other issues especially lack of development, poverty and that of ‘illegals’ issue,” asserted the three East Malaysian NGOs.

They said that the concept of a secular, pluralist and multi-cultural political system was one of several key basic or foundational terms for Sabah and Sarawak to give up real independence for Malaysia.

However, this concept has since the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971 been altered and replaced with an institutionalised race/religion supremacist (Ketuanan Melayu) policy.

Even if the unity government agreed with the 10 points raised by Chin who is inaugural director of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute, the NGOs reckoned that the former is unlikely to gain any support from the Opposition (Perikatan Nasional) “which is made up of committed race religion fundamentalists sworn to dismantle the secular concept”.

“The same people have declared that ‘Malaysia belonged to the Malays,” added the three NGOs. – Dec 3, 2023

Main pic credit: Saint Lawrence Seminary

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