By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today
GEORGE TOWN: A group of prominent politicians and social activists from East Malaysia are seriously contemplating pulling out Sabah and Sarawak from the Federation of Malaysia.
They are planning to take up their case to the United Nations to hold a referendum on the status of the Borneo states as independent nations.
They no longer want their states to be under the clutches of the Umno-led Putrajaya administration.
The group has already sought legal advice from the international community to explore all orderly and democratic means to legally declare Sabah and Sarawak as separate sovereign states.
Sources said the group was keen to avoid any civil unrest, bloodshed and armed conflict with the central government, features usually associated with separatist movements.
“They want to resolve the pressing issue by peaceful and civilised means,” said the source.
It’s learnt that about seven representatives from the group met London-based Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairman P Waytha Moorthy in Indonesia early this week to discuss the matter.
Sources close to the group said the activists sought Waytha Moorthy’s help to facilitate their imminent representation in the UN.
It’s learnt that Waytha Moorthy had agreed to assist them, with the help of several influential international organisations.
Waytha Moorthy recently facilitated a group of activists to air their grouses and grievances against the federal government at the UK Parliament.
'Systematic looting and plundering'
The group of activists are deeply perturbed by the federal government’s alleged violations of the states’ rights, interests and benefits for more than four decades since the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
“The group is angry over the systematic looting and plundering of the states’ wealth by Umno and its cronies,” said a source.
Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore formerly joined Malaysia in 1963. However, Singapore left the Federation in 1965.
The Sabah and Sarawak activists believe that just like Singapore, their states too can pull out from Malaysia.
Sabah and Sarawak are two natural resources rich provinces in Malaysia, with massive wealth potentials in oil reserves and forestry.
However, Sabahans and Sarawakians are convinced that they have remained poor due to the federal government's “manipulation and usurpation” of their power to self-determine their own affairs.
Unhappy over petro dollars
They are crying foul over the mere five percent royalty cut received for their own oil, while the Putrajaya administration “steals” 95 percent of petro dollars.
“People from both Sabah and Sarawak realise that they are being short-changed. They know there has been daylight robbery of their god-given richness,” said a source.
Another contentious issue is the existence of an estimated 1.7 million illegal immigrants as rightful citizens in Sabah.
Sabahans termed the illegal immigrants, mostly Filipino and Indonesian Muslims, as former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legacy.
“The government since under Mahathir has systematically brought in these aliens and granted them citizenships. These aliens are now legal MyKad holders in Sabah. It’s absolutely outrageous and ludicrous,” said the source.
The illegal immigrant issue in Sarawak is not as disturbing as in Sabah although it is equally damaging.
'Raping of forest wealth'
The major issue in Sarawak is the “raping of state forest wealth” by the Umno-backed Taib Mahmud’s government at the expense of the indigenous population.
The natives are also disgruntled by the usurpation of their customary land rights by the authorities despite a recent apex court ruling against it.
Sabahans and Sarawakians are also said to be peeved with the “Malay-nisation and Islamisation” process of their states’ bureaucracy and political systems.
Activists claimed that the federal government had appointed native Muslims to helm various ministerial portfolios and government departments to hasten and fasten this process.
“These Muslim leaders and bureaucratic heads are puppets dancing to the tune played by their masters in Putrajaya,” said the source.