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Sunday, March 31, 2019

At last, consistent Jeffrey Kitingan gets his due recognition



In my reaction to a March 25 news report, “Gov't not considering ‘self-determination’ for Sabah, S’wak”, I penned this note the following day to a group of friends and associates on my mailing list:
“Dr Jeffrey Kitingan is the only MP asking a straight forward question in Parliament on MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963). Other MPs from Sarawak and Sabah, whether from Pakatan Harapan or GPS, never had the courage to do it the way Jeffrey did.
“Call Jeffery a frog, a traitor, an opportunist or whatever you like. As far as the interests of Sabah and Sabahans are concerned, re-MA63, Jeffrey has been consistent all these years. I can’t say that for other politicians from Sabah or Sarawak.
“That is a fact which we must recognise.
“I am not giving credit to Jeffrey because I consider him a personal friend. I salute him again today for he has again proven that MA63 is an agenda which he never loses sight of. To him, the rights of Sabah must be returned at all costs.
“If Jeffrey is considered anti-Malaya or anti-Malaysia, so be it. He had gone to jail for this long struggle of his before and I believe he is prepared for worse consequences.
“I also believe that many Sabahans and Sarawakians, and perhaps even his detractors, are solidly behind Jeffrey on this matter. Me certainly,” I concluded.
The news article was on a reply in Parliament from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong to an oral question from Jeffrey, who had asked on the status of the special cabinet steering committee to review MA63, and the government’s take on “outside view” that the agreement is cancelled on the grounds that it was never fully implemented in 55 years.
The response from Liew (photo) was a damper to Sabahans and Sarawakians when he said that Putrajaya will not entertain any suggestions on the dissolution of MA63 and that Sabah and Sarawak be granted self-determination.
I believe many are glad that Jeffrey is finally in Parliament. The president of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) defeated his elder brother, Joseph Pairin Kitingan (photo, below), in Keningau as well as in the Tambunan state seat in the last general election (GE14).
One thing is clear. Pairin had never brought up the MA63 issue in his many years as the Barisan Nasional MP. Apparently, the elder Kitingan is more comfortable serving at state level than crossing swords with Putrajaya.
Jeffrey has finally emerged from the shadows of his illustrious brother, who is a former Sabah chief minister and still the revered Huguan Siou (paramount leader) of the Kadazandusun communities in Sabah.
And why am I not surprised that many have responded positively to my note, saying they could agree with my contention that Jeffrey has been very consistent in his struggle for Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement.
It is quite clear from public feedback that, at long last, Jeffrey has finally been accorded the recognition that is rightfully his. My note, also posted on Facebook, garnered many favourable comments for the 70-year-old Jeffrey.
Even a Sarawak GPS minister responded positively, sending me this message: “Dr Jeffrey has not only been consistent with his MA63 struggle. He has also been persistent, despite the odds against him. This is most admirable. Others only look at his weaknesses but I share your salute for him.”
Late last night, I was also alerted to a Free Malaysia Today article, “Kitingan: Change national flag, set up three heads of states” by a Kuching friend.
Below the story link, my friend commented: “Call Jeffrey Kitingan what you like but he seems to be the only lawmaker with b*lls!”
He added with a postscript, asking me to tell my Sarawak Harapan friends in Parliament not to be so servile to Putrajaya on MA63.
I share my friend’s sentiments. None of the Harapan MPs from Sabah or Sarawak have the gumption today to even suggest leaving the federation if the MA63 terms are not fully complied with.
They have to be as forceful as Jeffrey in order to send a clear message to Putrajaya. What is disappointing is that they seem to be contented that Sarawak and Sabah will no longer be known as ‘states’.
I expect much of the same thing even with the amendment bill to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore Sabah and Sarawak's status as equal partners with Malaya.
As far as I am concerned, Sarawak and Sabah were already equal partners in 1963. The 1976 amendment should have been declared null and void a long time ago by Parliament.
The proposed bill is a whitewash
To me, the proposed bill to be tabled on April 8 is a “whitewash”, an attempt to appease those foolish enough to believe that Harapan is serious about returning to Sabah and Sarawak their legitimate rights.
Yesterday, Jeffrey made some bold proposals which have not been heard of before. Among them, he suggested that:
  • The Malaysian flag should be changed to reflect a federation of three nation states and not 13 states and the federal territories;
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  • The heads of state of Sabah and Sarawak should be styled as the “Yang di-Pertua Negara”, as was the case in 1963;
  • Each of the three-nation states should have a head of state, and there should be a federal head of state for Malaysia; and
  • The representation of MPs, both elected representatives and senators – as well as the cabinet – should be revised to reflect the equal partnership.
Did any of the Harapan leaders in Sabah or Sarawak make any major proposal to evoke significant changes to the amended bill? Not that I know of.
It is as if they are unaware or pretend not to know of one important fact which Jeffrey and all of Sabah and Sarawak are aware of.
Putrajaya will never let Sabah and Sarawak go.
Let me state it plainly here. Sabah and Sarawak do not need Malaysia but Malaya needs Sabah and Sarawak in order to ensure that Malaysia continues to exist.
And there is only one MP today who has the courage and fortitude to tell Putrajaya that straight in the face. His name is Jeffrey Kitingan.

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com - Mkini

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