KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The forming of a special council on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is more of a public relations move by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, says DAP’s Lim Kit Siang.
In a statement, the DAP veteran questioned Muhyiddin’s seriousness in looking out for the people of Sabah, and their rights and needs, when he failed to reveal the composition of this council as well as missing an important event at the Keningau Oath Stone or Batu Sumpah in Sabah on September 16.
“But for the first time in the history of Malaysia on the formation of important committees, the full membership composition was not announced — indicating that the announcement was more a PR exercise, and that the prime minister himself was not serious about it,” said Lim.
Citing the Department of Statistics (DOS) report, Lim said Sabah had the highest poverty rate in the country last year at 19.5 per cent when the national poverty rate was only 5.6 per cent.
Tongod, Pitas and Kota Marudu are among the poorest districts in the country with poverty at about 50 per cent. Followed by Kelantan with a poverty rate of 12.4 per cent, followed by Sarawak with a 9 per cent poverty rate.
As a state rich with natural resources, Lim said the reason Sabah was still poor was down to poor governance, corruption and abuse of powers for the past 60 years.
Lim said after a visit to Keningau in 2010 it was clear to him that the pledges laid out to Sabahans in exchange for the formation of Malaysia had not been honoured and fulfilled.
As such, Lim urged the government to include the Keningau Batu Sumpah on the agenda of the Special Committee on MA63 on Wednesday when it meets in Cabinet.
“Is the deputy minister in the PN (Perikatan Nasional) government, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, prepared to give an undertaking that this will be done by the Cabinet on Wednesday?
“As Jeffrey received a memorandum to the prime minister on the Keningau Batu Sumpah by the KDM (Kadazandusun) native chiefs at the commemorative event, this memorandum on Keningau Batu Sumpah should be discussed at the Cabinet on Wednesday, and Jeffrey should ensure that the Cabinet would place the Keningau Batu Sumpah as one of the agendas of the Special Committee on MA63,” said Lim.
On September 9, the Oath Stone was lifted and transported to its new home using a truck followed closely by bobolian (shaman) Muri Gulim and his 1,000-member group who marched closely for one kilometre.
The Oath Stone was of historical importance, not only for Keningau and Sabah, but Malaysia as a whole as its existence closely related to the formation of Malaysia.
On August 31, 1964, the then Federal Labour Minister Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam officiated the placing of the Oath Stone, witnessed, among others, by Sabah Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and Dusun community leader Datuk G.S Sundang.
It served to assure the Sabahans that their rights to religious freedom, land, culture and customs are guaranteed.