Malaysiakini Letter

Time to unite the people of this nation

Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan  |  Published:

LETTER | As a Malaysian doctor who has done more than his fair share of contributing to the people of Sabah and Sarawak, I am disappointed with the politicians of East Malaysian states trying to amend the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to enhance their political power, using the people as a pawn and wanting to have the freedom to milk the states.

After 56 years, one expects further unification of the people and the economy, rather than working towards disintegration.

The MA63 is very clear in its wording - Malaysia comprises many states. Sabah and Sarawak were also stated as a state at the inception of the agreement. For those who are unclear about this, let me reproduce it here.

“The Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the State of Singapore shall be federated with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya as the States of Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore in accordance with the constitutional instruments annexed to this Agreement and the Federation shall thereafter be called ‘Malaysia’.”

The agreement was inked with the government of the United Kingdom, who was the colonial master of Sabah and Sarawak. It was not inked by an independent country of Sabah and Sarawak, and the agreement clearly says that it shall be federated with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya. 

It did not say that they will be federated with the Federation of Malaya, but with the states in the federation. Are the politicians’ English so bad that they do not understand the simple words written?

The 18-point and 20-point agreements are meant to give extra protection to the rights of the people in Sarawak and Sabah respectively, and in no way means that they are an independent country. They were never independent. They were British colonies prior to being federated together with the states in the Federation of Malaya.

The immigration point was one of the barriers of integration between the people of this nation. The immigration rights should not be exercised on Malaysians, but on foreigners. Freedom of movement and freedom of working is enjoyed fully by the people of Sabah and Sarawak when they come to any state in the peninsula, but this is not replicated vice versa.

This is a barrier to economic development and a barrier to strengthening our nation. Unfortunately, the politicians in Sabah and Sarawak are using this point of agreement to enhance their political mileage. 

The MA63 does not require any further change. The amendment made in the 1970s further clarified the original MA63 in terms of position, with the states of Sabah and Sarawak being equal partners with all other states in Malaysia.

What needs to be done is to enhance economic development in Sabah and Sarawak by allowing businesspersons to have freedom of movement into the two states. This will create jobs and improve the socio-economic status of the people of the two states.

What we see today is that Sabah and Sarawak immigration laws are used to frustrate workers from other states. How will this enhance the relations between people and enhance economic development?

Isn't it clear enough, that the politicians in the two states are working against the interest of the people? They want to be the new colonial masters. Have we not seen enough evidence about the richness of these "new people masters"?

It is time to act. Those who are working against unification are traitors to Malaysia and should be charged for treason. We must be firm on this point.

Even independent countries within the European Union are able to work together in allowing freedom of work and movement within the boundaries of the EU, and yet we in Malaysia cannot make this work. It is a shame that we give politicians the freedom to manipulate the citizens of this great nation to achieve their agenda.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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