The most significant event that marked this Malaysia Day was the signing of the historic ‘Kuching Declaration' on 16 Sept by the Pakatan Rakyat national and state leaders.
The declaration was to honor the spirit and the 20-point Malaysia Agreement of 1963, which they said had not been fulfilled by the BN government for the last 49 years.
The de facto leader of Pakatan, Anwar Ibrahim, told the thousands who braved the drenching downpour at Chonglin Park, Kuching, that the declaration was to affirm Pakatan's commitment to the Malaysia Agreement if it takes power in the 13th GE.
It was signed by Anwar Ibrahim himself, on behalf of PKR, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP national advisor Lim Kit Siang and Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng and Baru Bian, chairman of Sarawak PKR and Adam Ahid, Sarawak PAS commissioner.
In short, the declaration pledges to restore the rightful place of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. The pledges of Pakatan if it takes over the federal government can be summarised as below:
Article One: Equal partners
Pakatan will restore the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement and the position of Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners within Malaysia by restoring autonomy to Sarawak and Sabah within the framework of the federal constitution.
Article Two: Fair representation
PR will increase national integration between Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia through a fair power-sharing arrangement that fully upholds the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement.
Article Three: Citizenship
PR will set up a royal commission to solve the perennial national problem of illegal immigration and citizenship, particularly in Sarawak and Sabah.
Article Four: Restoration of native customary rights over land
PR will endorse the authority already vested in the state laws of Sarawak and Sabah to set up land commissions to investigate, resolve disputes, redress, survey and restore Native Customary Rights over Native Customary Lands.
Article Five: Competent Sarawak and Sabah
PR will endorse the appointment of Sarawak and Sabah citizens to head government departments in their own respective states and by the powers vested in the state secretaries of both states as well as give first priority to the appointment of Sarawak and Sabah citizens at federal government level functioning within Sarawak and Sabah.
Article Six: Oil justice
PR will raise the royalties paid on petroleum and hydrocarbon resources to Sarawak and Sabah to 20 percent from the present 5 percent.
Article Seven; Equitable development
PR will bring the level of infrastructure development in Sarawak and Sabah up to par with Peninsular Malaysia.
These pledges in the Kuching Declaration have far reaching consequences that will be for the good of the two East Malaysian states which are among the largest in the country.
It is significant that despite their size and abundant natural resources they are still the poorest states in the country.
It is time for Sabah and Sarawak be given their rightful place and honour in Malaysia . For almost half a century they had been neglected despite being the "fixed deposit" in terms of votes for the BN.
It is time for the people in Sabah and Sarawak to wake up to the realities of the world they are in today.
Why are they still poor despite their vast resources of oil and timber? Why is the cost of living higher there than in the peninsula despite being poor?
Why is the large section of people are still illiterate and cut off from the outside 'civilised' world despite having so much wealth?
Why are their chief ministers and other state leaders extremely rich when the bulk of the population still lives in under deplorable conditions in remote areas not accessible by proper roads?
These are some of the many questions they must ask themselves before they decide to cast their votes in the coming 13th GE.
The people in peninsula may want change but by themselves alone may not be able match the might of the BN.
They need the help of their fellow brethren from Sabah and Sarawak to bring political change.
The support of fellow citizens from Sabah and Sarawak can make the difference in the crucial elections.
They must prove to the BN that they cannot be taken for granted anymore but must be included in all national policies as equal partners.