Daniel John Jambun

This year’s slogan for the national day celebration, “Janji ditepati” has courted a lot of controversy not only because it violates the sanctity of the national celebration by converting it into a BN election campaign but also because it is so easy to argue with. It was a mistake on the part of BN to have chosen the slogan because the statement of the slogan itself invites criticisms and arguments. BN has forgotten that the national celebration is for all Malaysians regardless of party affiliation, so BN is really making an outrageous blunder, or showing plain arrogance, by making even the national celebration its own celebration.

By doing so, BN has alienated the rakyat who are in the opposition. Now there is no reason for the opposition to celebrate the national day together because it has become “BN’s Day”! There is no reason for people in the opposition to be patriotic with the national day because to celebrate it means to support BN! BN has forgotten that its duty is to celebrate the national day on behalf of ALL the people. The national day belongs to the people NOT to BN! No wonder the number of flags being put up on shops, offices, houses and vehicles have suddenly dwindled to ALMOST ZERO compared to previous years. Now even the Jalur Gemilang has a strong tinge of BN’s arrogance so much so that many people no longer feel any patriotic feeling when they see flapping in the wind.

Is BN so desperate or so frightened of losing the next general election that it is using everything and anything it can get its hands on, even the people’s patriotic heritage to glorify itself? Or is it so overconfident or simply super-arrogant that it thinks that it will gain a lot of political mileage by making it a part of the BN propaganda? Apparently that is the case, and because of this the whole meaning of patriotism has been hijacked and damaged. From the BN’s viewpoint patriotism means supporting the BN while from the viewpoint of the opposition patriotism means saving the nation from the abuses of the BN! So now it is meaningless for the BN to appeal to the people’s sense of patriotism because when the Prime Minister or any top BN leader talks about patriotism they know it means only one thing, “Come and support the BN” and “Supporting the opposition means destroying the country.” So, in a way, being patriotic in Malaysia nowadays is to come in cahoots with robbers!

But back to the problem of “Janji Ditepati.” If we were to list and discuss all the issues which prove that this is not an honest statement, it would fill up several books. But here is a sampling of only a few cases.

One, the security for Sabah in Malaysia. When Sabah was considering whether to join the formation of Malaysia, the rational bandied about for doing so was the supposed threat from the Philippines which had been claiming Sabah and the threat by Sukarno’s konfrontasi to “Ganyang Malaysia” before the cockerel crows on the dawn of September 16, 1963, that without Malaysia, Sabah would be invaded and colonized by Indonesia. But strangely history had shown that these threats didn’t go far as proven by the fact that Brunei not only survived but prospered. And when we became part of the federation we didn’t really get the security that we were promised. Very ironically it were the Filipinos and Indonesians who actually invaded Sabah, not as military forces, but as illegal immigrants, and all the security forces of Malaysia – the army, the border police, the immigration officials – couldn’t or wouldn’t stop them! Where was the promise to guarantee us security?

Two, the promise not to ‘colonization’ of Sabah. Donald Stephens biggest worry was that Sabah would escape from the clutches of British colonialization and fall into being a colony of Malaya. The Tunku then made a promise that Sabah and Sarawak would not become the 12th and 13th states of Malaya. But this is what had happened. We are now unitary states instead of being independent, equal-partner nations in the federation as was originally understood. The promise not to colonize Sabah was flagrantly broken.

Three, there is no compliance by the federal government on the five constitutional documents and/or constitutional conventions (the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement, the 20 Points, the IGC Report, and the Batu Oath Stone) which formed the basis for Sabah & Sarawak’s equal partnership as nations in Malaysia.

Four, why wasn’t there a proper constitution drafted and passed? What we have is actually the constitution of the federation of Malaya amended to become what is now the “Federal Constitution” which is the real reason why it is not called the “Malaysian Constitution.” When they came up with the decision to use the Malayan constitution as a basis for the constitution we have now, there was already a hidden agenda. We were played out from even before the start of Malaysia.

Five, the rights and autonomy for Sabah. The 20 Points has many points which promised certain rights and autonomy for Sabah. These have now been taken away, eroded or simply denied, often without any proper legal process. That is why we no longer have freedom not to have any official religion, right to arrange our own education system, to determine our own immigration rules and to retain the collection of our own taxes and use it in accordance to our own economic plans. The 20 Points in fact is a list of not only broken promises but a list of rights and autonomy which were then taken away unceremoniously.

Six, we were not consulted before the decision was made to expel Singapore from Malaysia. This means Malaya thought that the views of Sabah and Sarawak as components of the federation were immaterial and irrelevant in matters of such a critical and vital decision as expelling a partner. This was simple arrogance, a condescending attitude, taking us for granted because our leaders in Sabah were seen as people who could be forced to accept Malaya’s decision. Only one leader, Donald Stephens, demanded for a review of the Malaysia Agreement and to silence him he was sent or “ice-boxed” to Australia as Malaysia’s ambassador.

Seven, the Sabah Baru promise. When BN took over the state government in Sabah in 1994, there was a huge announcement of a promise to create “Sabah Baru” (a New Sabah) within 100 days. Now after 18 years we do have a ‘new Sabah’ – a Sabah depleted of its natural forests which had caused the death of ecosystems and many rivers, a Sabah mired in poverty and abject poverty with 40 percent of Malaysia’s poor, a Sabah which is the poorest in Malaysia. BN had promised a dream but delivered a nightmare!

And the situation is not improving. In fact things are getting worse. The state continues to be flooded with illegal immigrants, and the solution is not forthcoming because the recently-announced RCI is not expected to solve it largely because it has no provision to penalize those culprits behind the problem, and that obviously it was announced only as an election ploy.

Janji ditepati? You be the judge.