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Bring closure to the June 6, 1976 plane crash after 40 years

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the June 6, 1976 plane crash that took the lives of 11 people, five of which were our top local politicians. The crash created a vacuum in the then-Sabah state government which led to a downward spiral of Sabah’s state of affairs.

Just eight days after the plane crash, the new chief minister of the Berjaya government signed the Oil Agreement with Petronas, agreeing to only 5 percent cash payment for Sabah. It was also further agreed that Sabah government would waive the imposition of any royalties on the oil and gas extracted from Sabah which would otherwise be payable by Petronas under Section 24 of the Sabah Land Ordinance.

On July 13, 1976, the federal Parliament amended Article 1(1) of the Federal Constitution and down-grading Sabah and Sarawak to be the 12th and 13th states equal to the 11 states in Malaya. The amendment later passed the Senate and received the Royal Assent and became law effective Aug 26, 1976.

Meanwhile in Sabah, the Berjaya government initiated the amendment to the constitution of Sabah downgrading the Governor from TYT Yang DiPertua Negara to TYT Yang DiPertua Negeri. The amendment was passed by the Sabah assembly and became law with effect from Aug 26, 1976.

1976 was a terrible year for Sabah and Sabahans. We lost our headship, wealth and sovereignty. After 40 years of reeling the effects of these events, we implore our state government to rise up and seek for a realignment of our present system with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 for the future of Sabah and Sabahans.

While our members of parliament are mandated to decide on matters pertaining to the Federal Constitution, it is our state government that is clothed with immense powers to decide on matters relating to the Malaysia Agreement. This Agreement is an International Treaty which is constant and remain the legal basis for the existence of Malaysia. Regarding the Malaysia Agreement as irrelevant would mean Malaysia is irrelevant.

Since the lifting of the State of Emergency as announced by the Prime Minister on Nov 24, 2011, three Acts are deemed to cease to have effect. They are the Territorial Sea Act 2012, the Continental Shelf Act 1966 and the Petroleum Mining Act 1966. Therefore, the ownership of the territorial waters which extend to 180km as provided for under the North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954 reverts back to Sabah.

The federal government no longer have rights to authorise Petronas into our territorial waters. The state government must demand for the return of Sabah’s territory and restore its boundaries.

News regarding the possible acquisition of ‘Petronas assets’ by a Russian oil and gas company
does not sit well with Sabahans. This involves our land, our maritime rights, our territory and our assets! We ask for assurance and commitment from the Sabah state government that they will take steps to safeguard our land rights as per the Sabah Land Ordinance and the Malaysia Agreement.

Following the exploitation of our oil and gas, many other unfair policies were imposed on Sabah, one of which is the cabotage policy which essentially directs all foreign shipments to and from Sabah to first pass through Tanjung Pelepas or Port Klang as it reserves domestic shipping to only Malaysian-registered vessels.

Clear contempt of the Malaysia Agreement

This policy is a clear contempt of the Malaysia Agreement. Paragraph 9(b)(ii), List I, Annex A to the Report on the Inter-Governmental Committee, 1962 clearly shows that our forefathers agreed that “The federal government will not interfere with the present policy which aims at administration of ports by ports authorities. In respect of port fees and dues, discrimination should not be introduced designed to divert shipping from current trade routes.”

The cabotage policy is a clear discrimination to Malaysians in Sabah. Prior to the cabotage policy, Sabah enjoyed direct access to international ports such as Hong Kong. This policy has been the bane of Sabah’s manufacturing industries for decades. It is grossly unfair to Sabahans and we demand its removal immediately.

It is inevitable that the people of Sabah will more and more demand for the reversal of the status of Sabah as the 12th state. The true identity and sovereignty of Sabah must restored as one of the nation that formed Malaysia. The structure of Malaysia as a whole must be fixed beginning with the definition of the Federation under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution which states - “the Federation” means the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.”

The Federation of Malaysia was established under the Malaysia Agreement 1963! We sound the alarm that the government of the Federation of Malaya is not the government of the Federation of Malaysia!

Forty years have passed since the 1976 events. Why is the investigation report on the plane crash still classified? We ask that the state government demand for its immediate release.

Sabahans and families of the crash victims have the right to know the cause of that plane crash and it is only right to bring the matter to its proper closure.

We commend the Sarawak state government for its declared commitment to seek for the restoration of the Malaysia Agreement. We await the Sabah state government to do the same. The Headship, Wealth and Sovereignty of Sabah must be restored!

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