A Forum on the ‘ Formation Of Malaysia 1963’ was organized by the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Malaysia, was held at the University Malaysia Sabah(UMS). The forum drew more than 5,000 participants. The Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman moderated the forum with great success.
One area of improvement organizers of such events should seriously need to look into is, ‘time management’. Having to wait for 90 minutes for the arrival of “VVIP’s” was certainly uncalled for. However, this did not dampened the spirit of the participants, who stayed on until its conclusion.
The forum comprised of 12 distinguished panelist with varied backgrounds. Among them were: En Zainal Ajamain(Economic & Political Analyst), Datuk Yong Teck Lee(former Chief Minister of Sabah and SAPP President), YB Datuk Dr. Jeffery Kitingan(Assemblyman & STAR Sabah Chief), Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah(Veteran Lawyer), Tuan Hj. Ansari Abdullah(Lawyer & Veteran Politician), Lahirul Latigu(PAS Sabah Youth Chief), Dr Zaini Osman(Director, Centre for Security & Strategic Studies UMS ), Ass. Prof. Dr Faridah Jalil(Law Faculty) , Edmund Bon(Constitutional Lawyer) and Tan Sri Abdul Majid Khan ( personal assistant to the late Tun Fuad Stephens ).
All the panelist delivered their talks eloquently. Contents of their presentation was loaded with references and cross-references to the following documents:
- *Cobbold Commission Report.
- *Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee(IGC).
- *Federal Constitution.
Key result areas raised by the panelist were:
- *Borneonisation of the federal services.
- *Oil & Gas exploration & royalty.
- *Special rights for the people of Sabah & Sarawak.
- *Understanding the 20 points at a micro level.
- *Sabah & Sarawak are equal partners.
- *Revenue and special grants.
- *Interference by peninsular leaders.
- *Understanding the Malaysia Agreement.
- *Full autonomy over land, forest and local government.
- *Acceptance of Sabah’s special rights by peninsular leaders.
Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners and its special rights are enshrined in the Federal Constitution. “This is the law and it must be accepted,” says constitutional lawyer Edmund Bon.
The question is, are the lawmakers and political leaders in Sabah united and well versed with the contents of the Cobbold Commission Report, Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee(ICG) and Federal Constitution, in order to negotiate effectively, passionately and intelligently with the Federal Government? As the saying goes, ‘God is in the detail’ expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly, i.e. details are important.
At the end of the forum, the 12 member panel concurred with the moderator Datuk Anifah that,“negotiation and staying united, is the only way to address issues affecting the people of Sabah.”