KOTA KINABALU: A Borneo rights advocate says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said should brush up on the English language to have a better grasp of the law.
He was referring to Azalina’s remarks in the Dewan Rakyat on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the context of the formation of Malaysia in 1963, following the merger with the Federation of Malaya.
Zainnal Ajamain said Azalina failed to interpret the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and other documents on the formation of Malaysia “because she was weak in the English language”.
Zainnal reminded the Federal government that the MA63, Chapter 35, specifically mentioned the phrase “vested in the manner agreed”.
“That means while Malaya has the right to administer, it does not have absolute right to rule and must adhere to MA63,” the rights advocate said.
He attributed the anomaly to Sabah and Sarawak still belonging to the Crown, “even to this day”.
Zainnal noted that Azalina told Parliament the Federal Government disputed the idea that Sabah and Sarawak were equal partners with Malaya on the formation of Malaysia.
“MA63 stated the Bornean States shall be ‘federated with’ the States of Federation of Malaya,” Azalina was quoted as telling Parliament.
Azalina went on to claim the Cobbold Commission had no say on the formation of Malaysia, lamented the rights advocate.
“What Azalina said was wrong. It just confirms public suspicion that Putrajaya has no idea about MA63,” Zainnal said.
He added that Azalina’s other mistake was in thinking the phrase “States of the Federation of Malaya” means the states inside Malaya.
“The phrase ‘States of the Federation’ uses capital ‘S’, implying a noun. Therefore, the ‘States of the Federation’ means the Federation of Malaya.”
He explained the Cobbold Commission set out the Malaysia concept. The Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC) discussed, in detail, the recommendations by the Cobbold Commission.
The IGC Report became part and parcel of MA63, an international agreement and treaty, signed by five governments viz North Borneo, Sarawak, Singapore, Malaya and the United Kingdom.
It was lodged with the United Nations secretary-general.
The legal status of the Federation of Malaysia was constructed by the British as the Malaysia Act 1963, Chapter 35, and passed by the UK Parliament on July 31, 1963.
“This is the key to the formation. Azalina may not have read the Act and/or did not understand,” Zainnal added.
He believes that Azalina may not be interested in the truth, on MA63, but what was only convenient.
The word “federated with” was the same as “associated with”, that means a partnership, not a part of, Zainal pointed out.
Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, therefore, were to be associated with the Federation of Malaya, not with Johor or Kedah or Perak and so on, he said. – FMT