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Monday, June 30, 2014

How Sabah was colonised via ethnic engineering


COMMENT The demographics of Sabah have, since 1960, been subverted for political gain.

Sabah emerged as a state in its own right during the rule of the British North Borneo Company (BNBC), which controlled Sabah, then known as North Borneo, from 1882 until 1941.

The indigenous society then formed the backbone of the foundations of the state and thus it was apparent that the imperative policy of the BNBC was to forge the fragmented territories and disparate societies into the apparatus of the new state, as well as the workings of the indigenous society, its evolution and also their contributions.

Meanwhile, across the South China Sea, there were hints of a possible merger between Malaya and Singapore.

The initial suggestion on this, should it materialise, would have favoured the rulers of Singapore, since it would offset the powers-that-be in the Malay-dominated Malaya.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra then suggested that the federation should include Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei in order to dilute Singapore’s political influence over the non-Malay populations in Malaya.

Whether or not the Tunku realised at that time that these two states were in actual fact dominated by non-Muslim indigenous populations is left to be known.

However, the inclusion of the three Bornean states to counter the influence of the non-Malay population in the new federation did not materialise.

A miscalculation and misjudgment

It was a miscalculation and misjudgment on the part of the pioneers of Malaysia, as it was going to be proven later, that the political scenario in Sabah and Sarawak would be dominated by the non-Malay indigenous society.

First by the Kalong Ningkan case in Sarawak, in which a State of Emergency had to be declared in order to suppress Ningkan’s power base. The same could not be done on Sabah 20 years later, during the PBS reign where democracy and people’s power prevailed.

As a result, in the minds of many Malayan Malay leaders, the influence of the non-Muslim indigenous population in Sabah and Sarawak had to be offset. Vigorous and systematic schemes and actions were undertaken to change the demographic and social structure of the society in Sabah, particularly among the natives.

The conflict in the Southern Philippines was an excellent expedient factor. Tens of thousands of refugees from the southern Philippines who escaped the conflict flooded Sabah’s shore in the early Seventies, followed by uncountable number of illegal immigrants that followed later.

These newcomers then provided certain political parties with the much needed votes to defeat the PBS government and thus a sinister scheme was carried out to recruit foreigners as voters.

By 2010, we witnessed a sudden increase in the population of Sabah to 3.12 million, including 867,190 still-to-be-documented foreigners. The population of Sabah increased unbelievably from just less then half a million in 1960 to more than 3 million in 2010 - a staggering Malaysian record of population increase by 390 percent from 1970 to 2010.

At the same time, the population of Sarawak and Malaysia increased by 148 percent and 164 percent respectively.

Where did these ‘new citizens’ come from? We were first informed of Malaysian identity cards being issued to illegal immigrants through a book titled IC PALSU: Merampas Hak Anak Sabahwritten by Mutalib Muhamad Daud and published in 1999.

The author is a Malay from Kedah, raised in Sabah, and worked as the executive secretary of the Silam Umno division. As he progressed further in his research, Mutalib came up with more detailed information and outlined a sinister plan to increase the Muslim population in Sabah.

He penned all of this in his second book that was published in 2006, titled IC PROJEK: Agenda Tersembunyi Mahathir?

It was in this book that the words ‘IC Project’ (or also commonly referred to in Malay as ‘Projek IC’) was derived. His third book, titled Lelaki Malaysia Terakhir, was published in 2007.

Numerous police reports have been made on the first two books requesting the police to investigate the content as well as the writer of the book. Others were made in order for the culprits, as alleged in the book, to be arrested and charged in court. We were never informed of any development in the various police reports made.

The testimonies provided by various individuals during recent royal commission of inquiry (RCI) hearing on illegal immigrants in Sabah further provided us with the undeniable proof that the ‘IC Project’ was indeed the reason behind the sudden population explosion in Sabah.

Regardless of the findings of the RCI on this issue, until the police have proven that the contents of the book IC PROJEK: Agenda Tersembunyi Mahathir? are false, we will continue to assume that the ‘IC Project’ or ‘Projek IC’ did indeed exist.

The Malaysia Agreement of 1963

When Malaysia was formed, some leaders representing a large portion of the indigenous population, particularly in Sabah, were said to be in opposition, especially those in the interiors. Their fears were centred on land rights and land ownership.

However, these fears were quashed when, in the Inter-Government Committee (IGC) Report, Clause 22 specifically stated that the rights of states over land matters, in whatever circumstances, must belong to the states.

In addition, certain safeguards were sought for North Borneo, which later become the famed ‘20-Point’ Agreement. Both the spirit and content of the IGC report and the 20-Point Agreement were incorporated into the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63).

For the purpose of my argument, Clause 62 and Clause 66 of the Annex A (Malaysia Bill) of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 would be made the main references, where the safeguards for the special position of the natives of Borneo States are provided.

What our pioneer leaders hoped to be inherited by future generations in Sabah, in the context of the Federation of Malaysia, was a host of numerous safeguards and guarantees, which include:
  • Malaya would not, in the name of democracy, interfere with the rights of Sabahans to choose their state government;
  • The sovereignty of an independent Sabah within Malaysia must be protected and respected. This includes the provision where tariffs and finance are under the control of the state, as well as citizenship and other rights indigenous to Sabah;
  • Point 6 of the 20-Point Agreement, which referred to immigration, states that entry into North Borneo must require the explicit approval of the state government, while Point 8 states that the Borneonisation of the public service must take place as quickly as possible; and
  • The indigenous races of North Borneo should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present (then) Malaya formula in this regard was not necessarily applicable to North Borneo (Point 12).
The aforementioned promises have today gone down the drain. This occurrence reminds me of what Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa once stated during the apartheid rule of his country. He said: “The West came to us and said, ‘Let us close our eyes and pray!’ We closed our eyes and prayed. When we opened our eyes, we had their Bible and they had our land!”

The population of Sabah



Table 1 shows a staggering increase in Sabah population at 587 percent, compared with Sarawak’s 225 percent during the period 1960-2010.

However, from 1970 to 2010, the Sabah population increased by 390 percent, compared with 148 percent and 164 percent for Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia respectively. Obviously, the huge increase in the Sabah population stemmed from the illegal immigrants, particularly from the Philippines.

Table 3 indicates the results of the social engineering process committed by Umno in Sabah. By comparing the population ratio among the different races given in Table 2 and Table 3, the Kadazandusun declined by 14.16 percent, from about 32 percent in 1960 to about 18 percent in 2010.

The Murut population decreased by 1.64 percent, from about five percent  in 1960 to about three percent in 2010. The numbers of Chinese also fell by 13.9 percent, from 23 percent in 1960 to about nine percent in 2010.

On the other hand, the total Muslim population increased dramatically during the same period. While the Bajau increased slightly, by almost one percent, a new category of race called ‘Malay’ and ‘Foreigners’ were added in the census list in 2010.

While the new Malay category took up about percent of the total Sabah population, the foreigners (of Philippines and Indonesian origin) swallowed it all with almost 28 percent of the total population.

Within three decades, from 1980 until 2010, the non-Muslim natives of Sabah were overpowered by Umno’s agenda for ‘Malay Dominance’ (Ketuanan Melayu) in Malaysia. Race and religion were used systematically to conduct the demographic engineering process in Sabah.

This explains the success story of Mahathir’s Project IC and his legacy is continued by Umno to this day.

Prior to 1980, the incremental process of making the Muslim community in Sabah as the majority community started during the government headed by the United Sabah National Organisation (Usno).

Then-chief minister Mustapha Harun (left) embarked on a mass scale conversion of non-Muslim natives in Sabah to Islam under the tutelage of Kuala Lumpur. In the eyes of KL, he went overboard by dreaming to secede from Malaysia and installing himself as the sultan of Sabah and Sulu Islands.

The federal government intervened by aiding the setting-up of the Berjaya party to defeat Usno and subsequently, ended Mustapha’s personal intentions.

After the demise of then-chief minister Fuad Stephens in a plane crash on June 6, 1976, Harris Salleh succeeded as the chief minister of Sabah. He adopted and continued the conversion-to-Islam policy of KL and thus perpetuated the engineering process of the non-Muslim natives in Sabah.

Except during the PBS government, from 1985 to 1994, the trend of persistent restructuring of the society in Sabah according to the mould of the Ketuanan Melayu agenda of Umno and Malaya, existed since the dawn of Malaysia Day.

The process heightened its speed during Mahathir’s rule, when he surreptitiously ordered the relevant government authorities to give ICs to the illegal immigrants in Sabah to vote in general elections in favour of Umno. Author Mutalib labelled this scheme as the ‘IC Project’.

Since the final defeat of PBS government in the 1994 general election, Umno has strengthened its position in Sabah by continuously giving ICs to the illegal immigrants. In this manner, Umno has made Sabah a colony of Malaya, with ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ in the forefront.

Tomorrow Part 2: Project IC

This article is drawn from Bumburing's paper, ‘The Impact of Systematic Demographic Engineering of the Communities in Sabah, 1960-2013', which was presented at the ‘Forum on Malaysia Agreement 1963’ at Radius Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on June 15, 2014. The forum was organised by the Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (Sapa).



WILFRED M BUMBURING is president of Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and assemblyperson for the seat of Tamparuli in Sabah.

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