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DON'T JUST AMEND THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION FOR SHARIAH LAW, MAKE SABAH AND SARAWAK AUTONOMOUS TOO


From left: Datuk Ewon Benedick, Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau, Datuk Donald Mojuntin

29 March 2021 If UMNO wants to unilaterally amend the Federal Constitution to expand Syariah Law, then it must also be prepared for a full renegotiation of the federal setup for Malaysia, so that Sabah and Sarawak can gain more autonomy. We wish to reiterate that, not only was the Federation of Malaya established as a secular federation where Islam as the “religion of the federation” plays only ceremonial roles, but more importantly, Sabah and Sarawak, which have never been part of the ‘Negeri-negeri Melayu’ proudly embrace their diverse ethnic and religious heritage.

Malaysia is a secular federation and no party should mistake Malaysia as an expansion of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. UMNO must remember that Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a merger of four countries, the independent Federation of Malaya (a former British protectorate) and three former British colonies namely; North Borneo (later known as Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore. The commitment for a secular and liberal society is reflected in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and enshrined in the Federal Constitution, which all Malaysian parliamentarians have sworn to uphold. Lest we forget the Batu Bersumpah in Keningau, Sabah. For the Sabahan natives, the social contract of becoming Malaysians is a two-way traffic – loyalty for Malaysia is premised upon the guarantee of religious freedom.

'Constitutional changes involving the fundamental character of the Federation of Malaysia must be a package deal. Social contract cannot be changed in a lopsided way. If Malaya wants to be more Syariah-governed, then Sabah and Sarawak must be autonomous.' Had the forefathers and foremothers of Sabah and Sarawak – Christians, Muslims, Animists, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Sikhs, followers of other faiths, agnostics and atheists - been told that their countries would become part of an Islamic federation where personal sins would be slapped with heavy Syariah punishments, they would have outright rejected the formation of Malaysia. There would not have been a Malaysia. Malaya would have remained just Malaya. As our families, clans and friends comprise of Muslims, Christians, Animists, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Sikhs, followers of other faiths, agnostics and atheists don’t try to divide us and say that this only affects the Muslims and non-Muslims should stay out. We are not Malaya and we do not think like Malayans. Sabahans and Sarawakians will also not accept any false assurances that they would not be affected if the expansion of Syariah Law is limited to the Malayan states. As a result of regional imbalance in development after 58 years in Malaysia, more and more Sabahans and Sarawakians are now living in Malaya. Their lifestyle is affected by Islamisation in Malaya.

The Allah ban is the best proof why we must not believe propaganda by certain Bornean leaders that “Let Malaya do what they want to do, Sabah and Sarawak can stay unchanged.” If Malaya is adamant to expand Syariah laws, then Sabah and Sarawak must become autonomous regions with a substantial control of their economic resources to provide ample opportunities in employment and education, so that Sabahans and Sarawakians who do not want to be affected by the expansion of Syariah laws may stay home and stay away from Malaya. We call upon UMNO Sabah, together with Bersatu Sabah, PBS and STAR to stand with the rest of Sabah and Sarawak in defending the rights, freedom and lifestyle of Borneo. Regardless of faith, ethnicity, language and partisanship, Sabahans and Sarawakians must stand as one. We urge UMNO to also consider the implication of making itself a PAS Lite to its prospect of leading the next Federal Government. Sabahans and Sarawakians do not accept PAS in our own states. We will also not accept UMNO as PAS Lite to helm the Federal Government. If UMNO needs an assurance of that, wait for the results on the GE15 election night. Datuk Seri Panglima WIlfred Madius Tangau President of UPKO Member of Parliament for Tuaran Senator Datuk Donald Mojuntin Deputy President of UPKO Datuk Ewon Benedick Vice President of UPKO Kadamaian State Assemblyman

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