Will Sabah secede?

In an earlier post I had warned about the change of winds prevailing in East Malaysia. Incidentally ‘East Malaysia’ is a (literally) politically incorrect name as the government prefers the nation’s eastern wing to be called the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Perhaps the 1971 secession of East Pakistan to become Bangladesh had alarmed the federal authority on the terms ‘East’ and ‘West’ in describing the two wings of Malaysia.

In Tri-Ancaman I wrote (extracts):
There has been an awakening of nationalism in Sabah and Sarawak that bodes no good for the continuing cohesion of Malaysia. Many are the people of the two Eastern States who are pissed off with Putrajaya for their treatment by a succession of patronizing and condescending PMs who viewed both States as only equal or even lesser to one of the 11 in Peninsula, when the constitutional fact of Malaysia has been one of a merger of Malaya (or the Peninsula), Sabah and Sarawak (and previously Singapore), and not of 14 states. […]
That an expelled Singapore (from Malaysia) is now doing great guns on its own has added to the 2 Eastern States’ chagrin in their perspective that “there, but for the curse of Syaitan, could have been us”, where ‘Syaitan’ of course is Putrajaya.
Putrajaya (and its predecessors) hasn’t helped ameliorate, but instead aggravated the current mood in Sabah and Sarawak by its arrogance, deprivation of correct development funding for those two States, corruption, fostering of unpopular and corrupt local politicians who have misappropriated native lands and raped other resources, and the scandalous, insidious & treasonous socio-political engineering in Sabah. Today the two States are still relatively undeveloped, and their natives have hardly enjoyed the benefits of being bumiputeras.
Even though secession is prohibited by the Constitution, someone (obviously from one of the two States) wrote recently in Free Malaysia Today that since the federal government hasn’t abided strictly by the Merger Agreement, then both Sabah and Sarawak have equal rights not to abide by the constitutional prohibition of secession. Tit for tat! […]
…They are very desirous of at least autonomy if not secession, to take charge of their own destiny (and wealth) as they can no longer trust nor want federal politicians to look after those for them. This may upset someone who hates the red dot in the south but the reality is that the Sabahans and Sarawakians want their respective States to be like prosperous and independent Singapore. […]
But we also need to be aware that two autonomous states separated from Peninsula by the vast water body of the South China Sea will be as good as two de facto secessions. […]
We need to note that the world has witnessed several secessions in recent times in the former USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Indonesia (East Timor), where some were peacefully achieved whilst others were blood-stained.
There are still threats of secessions from the people of the Canadian state of Quebec and Scotland (from Britain).
In the last few days I read Jeffery Kitingan commenting very vocally on the politics of STAR and the interests of Sabahans. If STAR does win a big healthy chunk of the electorates in GE-13, I smell secession not far off.
The deepset dissatisfaction and resentment among Sabahans are already there, having built up into raging crescendos they are today, thus the mood and willingness to go it alone on their own must be fermenting to boiling point. With a political mandate in GE-13, STAR will no doubt demand (or blackmail) the federal government (BN or Pakatan) into giving it greater autonomy. A hung parliament after GE-13 will be just gnam gnam (very fitting) for STAR, assuming of course it wins big in the state seats.
And as I mentioned above, we also need to be aware that an autonomous Sabah, separated from Peninsula by the vast water body of the South China Sea, will be as good as a de facto seceded state.

Sabah’s flag in 1963, when it was actually independent for two weeks prior to 16 September 1963

And we need to bear in mind, again mentioned above, the future (and peaceful) secession of Scotland from Britain has become in recent weeks a probability rather than just a possibility, and will represent, like the peaceful separation of Czech and Slovakia, an unavoidable example staring at Malaysia in the face, should Sabah demand secession – call it a ‘peaceful and friendly separation’ if you wish!
Are we prepared to send troops into Sabah to stop secession? Do we have the military capability and competency to do so, given the intimidating logistical problems? Can we afford to? Are we willing to face international sanctions?
Incidentally, did you know that prior to the formation/independence of Malaya in 1957, Penang had tried to exclude herself from the Federation?
The British crown colony of Penang, sold away by the Sultan of Kedah, attempted to stay out of the new Federation of Malaya. Wikipedia has the following to say:
Nonetheless, the idea of the absorption of the British colony of Penang into the vast Malay heartland alarmed some quarters of the population. The Penang Secessionist Movement (active from 1948 to 1951) was formed to preclude Penang’s merger with Malaya, but was ultimately unsuccessful due to British disapproval.
Another attempt by the secessionists to join Singapore as a Crown Colony was also unfruitful.
The movement was spearheaded by, among others, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Penang Indian Chamber of Commerce, and the Penang Clerical and Administrative Staff Union.

I wonder what would have been Penang like today if it had succeeded in either remaining as an independent state (after independence from British rule) or in union with Singapore. I suppose among the many difficulties it would have faced, the most worrying would have been water problems a la Singapore But then, look at Singapore today.

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