KOTA KINABALU: Political activist Zainnal Ajamain has accused Dr Mahathir Mohamad of trying to scare the people of Sabah and Sarawak into silence on issues that matter to them.
Speaking to FMT, he said he disagreed with the prime minister that it was seditious to speak on the possibility of separation from the Malaysian federation.
Zainnal was commenting on Mahathir’s statement in the Dewan Rakyat that the Sedition Act could be used against those calling for Sarawak’s secession if their words jeopardised public order and security.
In his written reply to Lanang MP Alice Lau, Mahathir said there was no provision in the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63) or the Inter-Governmental Committee Report that gave Sabah or Sarawak any right to secede from Malaysia.
Neither was such a right mentioned in the Cobbold Commission Report, the prime minister added.
But Zainnal, who is the Sabah government’s adviser on MA63, said those documents did not say the two states could not leave the federation.
“All these documents are silent on the issue of secession,” he said.
Nevertheless, he added, the documents implicitly stated that in order to gain independence, Sabah and Sarawak would need an act passed in Westminster.
He noted that Singapore, which left the federation in 1965, gained its independence only when Westminster passed the Singapore Independence Act in 1966.
Zainnal said he was not calling for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak, but only saying that the people of the two states had the right to speak of their aspirations without fear.
He said he believed many Sabahans and Sarawakians were content with the status quo but had no doubt they would rally if they felt threatened.
“I think it’s time to speak about this issue openly,” he said. “Isn’t it enough that we have been fooled for more than five decades?”