NATASHA SHAFIQAH ROKEI
THE MALAYSIA AGREEMENT IN 1963
Signing the Malaysia Agreement on 9 July 1963 in London
Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is a signed treaty by several parties, namely “United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Federation, Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore”.
This agreement has been signed on 9 July 1963 in London and legitimate texts legally for every aspect in the agreement has in Malay and English language. This agreement has been registered in the “Sekretariat Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB-PBB)” at 21 September 1970 by United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
Each one of those things contained in the agreement that works as a matter and the direction that should be followed, obeyed and fulfilled by all parties who have signed this agreement.
Other than that, after Singapore has joined the Federation Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September in 1963, its government structure was laid out in 1963 National Constitution, which was the Third Schedule for Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (State Constitution) Order at the Council of 1963 (Tan 1999).
Particularly in the relation to the legislature, Singapore’s executive and public administrations and the special government responsibilities of minority communities – remain basically the same as the previous ones, with very little amendment here and there.
This is because Singapore was maintains the most of its executive and legislative branch structures as defined in the 1958 constitution. The island state is given a large amount of autonomy in its internal affairs business as part of its federal entry requirements.
However, there were some differences between the 1963 and 1958 constitution. As Singapore has gained full independence from the British after joining in Malaysia, federal government still have authorities over defense, internal security, and external affairs.
Furthermore, as a state in Malaysia, the authority on the appointment of the Yang di-Pertuan Negara or the head of the Singapore state is placed under the jurisdiction of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Malaysia. There are also additional provisions defining Singapore citizenship and its status in Malaysia.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF RIGHTS AND POWER BETWEEN MALAYA, SINGAPORE, SARAWAK AND NORTHEN BORNEO (SABAH)
Union Between Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah)
The distribution of rights and power in Singapore is merging with Malaysia has become its path towards economic development.
Singapore is an island without natural resources unlike Northern Borneo and Sarawak, thus it was burdened with the deteriorating threat of deteriorating trade, and Singapore needs the resources of Malaya to provide a more or larger market for its industry, consequently creating more jobs and generating growth.
In line with the agreement, Singapore was also required to adhere to a series of terms and conditions when to join Malaysia. Firstly, Singapore will mainly control over educational and labor. Unfortunately, defense, internal security and external affairs will be under the jurisdiction of the federal government. This division of authority enables effective administration and offsetting rights among states.
Secondly, in return for an autonomy in education and labor, Singapore will received merely 15 seats in the federal parliament and not the total of 25 seats that is eligible portion according to number of voters.
Thirdly, all the Singaporeans will maintain their Singapore citizenship and also automatically becoming a bigger federal citizen. Unfortunately, they can vote in Singapore only. This term, which was agreed by the both of Singaporean and federal governments that has been published in the White Paper in when signing the agreement on November 1961.
Unfortunately, in the White Paper does not provide details on economic matters, educational and financial, including tax and joint market execution. This item is only finalized by signing the Malaysia Agreement on 9 July 1963.
Moreover, the Borneo territories were assured to join the federation after they are offered several privileges that aims to preserve their nativity and uniqueness. These guarantees and safeguards have since been inserted into constitutions and relevant laws.
Other than that, before the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak obtained the self-Government Administration on 22 July 1963, while North Borneo embarked on the Self-Government Administration of the United Kingdom on August 31, 1963, up to the 6th anniversary of Malaya’s independence.
August 31st 1963 is also a day in which Malaysia’s formation is planned to take place. Some issues related to Indonesia’s and Philippines’s neighbors’ objections to the formation of Malaysia (which could not be resolved and subsequently let to a political confrontation especially between Malaysia and Indonesia) postponed the declaration on 16 September 1963. On the same day, North Borneo was renamed Sabah.
CONTEMPORARY ISSUES OF STATE AUTONOMY ESPECIALLY SABAH AND SARAWAK
There were several contemporary issues of state autonomy especially Sabah and Sarawak when the result of GE-13 further confirmed the important of the Barisan Nasional (BN) have been able to claim victory at that time. Accordingly, the Sabah and Sarawak BN have pressed their own demands. The electoral process parties were therefore introduced in a context of rapid changes by the formation of Malaysia (Milne and Ratnam 1974)
At the 53th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia (September 16, 2016), people in the Peninsular should pay serious attention towards the concerns raised regarding the number of groups and individuals in Sarawak and Sabah that fights for the rights of their two states in the Malaysian federation. This concern is getting stronger and more persistent in the last two or three years.
The emergence of Sarawak and Sabah votes as the Barisan Nasional’s powerful force in Putrajaya following the 2013 general election cannot be denied as a major factor. This is because Sarawak and Sabah politicians are fully aware of the power they now use on the federal government. They have also become firmer when negotiating issues on the country side.
At that time, state rights and autonomy issues rose once again. Sabah leaders have claimed that Sabah has lost its autonomy and it is time for it to be fully restored.
Hence, politics and political parties in Sabah tend to be less ‘racialized’ (Mandal 2004) and the communal model of party politics, which is so often become the focus of interest in comparative studies of Malaysia.
Although no one can deny the fact that Sabah and Sarawak has the right to insist on autonomy under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, it must be done in the Federation of Malaysia and the national interest. After all, some matters are meant to be broken down and improved.
OPINION ON THE ISSUE OF STATE AUTONOMY OF SABAH AND SARAWAK
In my opinion on the issue of autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak really require the autonomy status, as it would aid in further developing their states. The autonomy is not an outcry for freedom from federation of Malaysia, but it is a requirement that shall be maintained so that Sabah and Sarawak does not fall behind, or being left out when other parts of the country are already years ahead.
Sabah and Sarawak autonomy should be maintained the way it is, according to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, where their privileged rights is put in place. In fact, Sabah and Sarawak have the autonomy to make decisions because of the Malaysia Agreement in 1963, which definitely helps in developing their states individually.
Other than that, Sarawak and Sabah autonomy give them privileges to legislate their very own immigration. In fact, Malaysians from the Peninsular is required to apply for permit if they want to be working or studying in Sarawak or Sabah. Short visits to these Borneo territories also require filling out an immigration form to obtain a 90-days visit pass
Next, for education in Sarawak and Sabah should be further enhanced by the system in line with education on the peninsular Malaysia. This is because the learning system in Sabah and Sarawak is still lagging compared to the federal government. Even the schools there are still located in rural areas, where transportation and educational materials are scarce.
For transportation, Sabah and Sarawak are still outdated – the lack of transport is not as advanced compared to peninsular Malaysia. As a matter of fact, Sabah is still using the old train and there is not a single form of efficient transportation like the ones in peninsular, such as “Rapid Bus” and LRT. The roads is still has lot of problems and is not fixed because it costs a lot.
Moreover, financially, Sabah and Sarawak are still lacking. Even though products such as palm oil and others have been exported to peninsular Malaysia due to high demand, Sabah and Sarawak do not gain as many profit as expected because the people are still under the auspices of the political party that will control the money in the state. They would only receive little incentives or payment, which is a very small portion from the whole profit.
What do I think that the current government should do to address this problem is the government needs to investigate and rethink the detailed aspects of each terms of the agreement. As far as the new takeover of Pakatan Harapan government, Sabah and Sarawak seems to be given back their autonomy right, maybe not entirely, but hopefully will keep being restored gradually.
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