Nothing New In PH Manifesto, Vague On Borneo And Corruption

Except for the Barisan Nasional (BN) Concept, it’s unlikely that the Manifesto of other parties in the fray for GE15 would be dramatically different from that announced by Pakatan Harapan (PH)!

Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH), the Opposition Alliance which has recycled Borneo rights and corruption among others in its Manifesto for GE15, appears to be wrestling with a collective bout of amnesia after the fairy tales spun in the GE14 Manifesto on Sabah and Sarawak. Projek IC Mahathir, the “Father and Mother of All Issues” in Sabah, for example, isn’t mentioned in the Manifesto.

Sabah MIC Chief Peer Mohamad may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg on Projek IC Mahathir. Sabahan expect Parliament to cancel Projek IC Mahathir documents by declaring Amnesty and seizing suspect Malaysian personal documents.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah dwelt on the modus operandi of those who issued late registration birth certificates to PTI (Pendatang Tanpa Izin or illegal immigrants) born outside Sabah. These names allegedly padded the electoral rolls. Electoral integrity has also been compromised by not holding run-off for perfection in law of election results.

Borneo Territories

There’s a case for the Federal government to confine itself to defence, internal security, the Malaysian Common Market and foreign affairs in the Borneo Territories. Having said that, Sabah and Sarawak are not on the same page as Putrajaya on foreign affairs, especially on the South China Sea, the Middle East and India.

The people in the Borneo territories, like the elephant, do not forget. They may not support PH if it seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya in GE15. The Alliance allegedly lied to the people on Borneo rights during the run-up to GE14.

If true, it would be a contradiction in terms.

Sabah and Sarawak have long adopted the position, based on the pragmatic premise that “siapa menang di Putrajaya, kami sokong” (we will support whoever wins Putrajaya i.e. the Federal government). PH and Mahathir may find it difficult — given their inherently sneaky, slimy, shifty-eyed nature (my apologies) — to win support in Sabah and Sarawak.

Pan-Borneo Highway

Anwar — and Mahathir Mohamad based on the history of their politics — are evidently against complying with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63), Borneo rights, autonomy, local government elections and even the Pan Borneo Highway.

Mahathir aborted the RM30b Pan Borneo Highway initiated by then Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak before GE14 and halted the devolution of greater administrative powers to Sabah and Sarawak.

Najib had explained that “what they can do, let them do. If they want more power, we can consider it”.

“We will weed out duplication in government agencies. Federal government agencies will be handed to the two Territorial governments to merge with local agencies or be headed by locals.”

Earlier, he thundered in Miri, before GE14, that “Sabah — presumably Sarawak too — belongs to Malaysia forever”.

Big Difference

The big difference between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and other coalitions is the BN CONCEPT viz. power-sharing and decision-making by consensus i.e. no voice against. This has seen MIC and MCA contesting Malay seats under the BN banner.

There are no Indian seats in Malaysia. Hence, it would be interesting to see how MIC fares in ten parliamentary seats the party has been alloted. If MIC wins all seats, it’s likely that BN would emerge as the largest coalition in Parliament and form the Federal government with support from either Sabah or Sarawak or both Territories.

One dramatic new development in GE14 may be the number of Malay candidates fielded by DAP in Chinese seats. Hitherto, Indian were fielded by DAP in Chinese seats.

It’s unlikely that the Manifesto of other parties in the fray for GE15 would be dramatically different from that announced by PH. None are expected to call for local government elections, electoral integrity and the defence of NCR (native customary rights) land in Sabah and Sarawak.

When Anwar rejected the Tambunan Declaration on Borneo rights, senior vice president Jeffrey Kitingan left PKR in mid-Dec 2010. Then, Anwar signed the watered down Kuching Declaration on Borneo rights. No one in PKR mentions the Kuching Declaration.

No Money for Borneo

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told the media, after GE14, that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad — and Anwar Ibrahim — were against 20 per cent oil royalty for Sabah and Sarawak. They were also against 50 per cent of the revenue collected in the Borneo Territories being returned to the source countries.

Indeed, it was even widely reported that Mahathir, after GE14, declared that 20 per cent oil royalty for Sabah and Sarawak will “bankrupt” Petronas, the national oil corporation.

The aircrash which took the lives of Sabah Chief Minister Fuad Stephens and nine Cabinet Ministers in June 1976 has been blamed on intelligence services in Malaya. Stephens, like predecessor Mustapha Harun, refused to surrender the oil and gas reserves to Petronas and the Federal government.

Ketuanan Melayu

If there’s lack of leadership in Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo rights, it’s equally true that there’s no political will in Putrajaya on the matter, and for perverse reasons. The Federal government’s non-compliance on MA’63 — Equal Partnership of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya in Malaysia being the basis — has long been considered as virtually defending ketuanan Melayu (Malay political domination and supremacy) in Malaya and Borneo. That has also meant that the Orang Asal and Sarawak find themselves speaking different languages on Borneo rights.

That has seen the Federal government installing proxy governments in Sabah and Sarawak since Malaysia Day on 16 Sept 1963.

The exceptions were the Stephen Kalong Ningkan nationalist government in Sarawak before 1966 and the Joseph Pairin Kitingan nationalist government in Sabah from 1985 to 1994. Ningkan was ousted by declaration of Emergency, and Pairin by defections masterminded by Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim. Two local Chinese moneybags in Sarawak and Labuan and a local Chinese politician in Sabah were allegedly in cahoots with them in return for inflated Federal government contracts.

All this brings us up to speed on Borneo rights. We will come to the corruption issue shortly.

Vague Picture

There are parallels between Mahathir’s Pejuang TanahAir and Anwar’s PH on the fight against corruption as the country gears up in the wet season for GE15 on Sat 19 Nov 2022.

Both men, based on their reported statements in the media as well, ignore the many faced elephant in the room viz. inflated government contracts allegedly going for double, triple and even up to ten times what it should cost the tax payer.

Then, there’s the “special position by way of reasonable proportion” status being observed in the breach on Article 153, the related New Economic Policy (NEP) 1970 to 1990 being extended indefinitely, and the infamous quota system which has been imposed even on critical disciplines in public universities.

Political Donation

Both men make no mention in media statements of political donation being read by Prosecution as “deriving personal benefits” from bribery and corruption and being party to illegalities — viz. money laundering activities — and thereby commiting abuse of power, conflict of interest and criminal breach of trust. At the same time, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), IGP, Bank Negara and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) may be “missing in action” in Sarawak on corruption and money laundering activities.

The concept of a home-owning democracy will never be achieved as long as corruption in local authorities isn’t addressed.

Indemnification, immunity, and implicit Pardon for “acts in office”, remains another crucial ommision from the PH Manifesto and the language spoken by Mahathir. There are expectations that BN will address this issue after GE15 if installed in Putrajaya. In that case, Attorney General Idrus Harun would be replaced and political cases dropped. PH, during its 22 months in power, dropped 15 political cases. Attorney General Tommy Thomas dropped the case against 12 LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) without being prompted by the government.

The former Prime Minister stays in a glass house and throws stones at all and sundry, especially Najib. Mahathir’s children, based on their holdings in publicly-listed companies alone, are all multibillionaires. It’s a mega rags to riches story on corruption made possible by Mahathir being Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003 and from 2018 to 2020. – NMH

About the writer: Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez keeps a keen eye on Malaysia as a legal scholar (jurist). He was formerly Chief Editor of Sabah Times. He is not to be mistaken for a namesake previously with Daily Express. References to his blog articles can be found here.

The points expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the New Malaysia Herald.

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