Monday, 2 February 2015

How about staying with Malaysia to fight for change, Anwar tells Sabahans

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says he agrees with many of the marginalisation grouses voiced by the locals here that resulted in the set-up of an online secessionist movement, ‘Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia’ (SSKM). — AFP pic

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 31 — Saying secession won’t solve Sabah’s problems, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made a plea yesterday with native Borneo groups seeking autonomy to stay and transform the country through the democratic process.

The federal opposition leader said he agreed with many of the marginalisation grouses voiced by the locals here that resulted in the set-up of an online secessionist movement, “Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia” (SSKM).

The Penang lawmaker noted the increasing support for breaking away, but reminded those in its favour that such a move was against the Federal Constitution.

“Let’s subscribe to the process and affect change through the democratic constitutional process. We are not supporting the secession of any states. That is not the solution,” he said in dialogue here yesterday with some 150 youths here, including students and youngsters from the rural areas.

Talk of secession became rife in August last year, with groups across several social media platforms organising themselves into a loose alliance and operating under the SSKM banner.

The movement gained traction, particularly among youngsters in Sabah and Sarawak, who called for a review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 that saw four distinct groups: The Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo — now called Sabah — combine forces to form one nation.

The agreement incorporated some of the 18- and 20-point agreements drawn up by North Borneo and Sarawak, and played a part in the formation of the Federal Constitution.

In his dialogue session yesterday, Anwar reminded the country’s leaders not to underestimate the growing sentiment in Sabah and Sarawak — the two states considered the vote banks for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

“I have heard from many Sabahans from various groups and sub groups. The consensus is great. People are disenchanted by the neglect, marginalisation, poverty and inequality. Throughout the country, many are calling for major transformation of policy. I agree to many of their concerns,” the 67-year-old Permatang Pauh MP said.

“There is growing support for Sabah and Sarawak rights and the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement. But attempts to hijack this process will not benefit us in the long run. There will be more civil strikes under this regiment,” he said.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has warned the group of people believed to be behind the movement to drop their demands for Sabah and Sarawak to secede or face the law.

He said the police were conducting an investigation on these people — all of whom have been identified — and added that the papers would be sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for prosecution action.

So far though, no one has been arrested for supporting the movement.

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