January 25, 2017: There have been committees after committees, so many
that I have lost count. At the federal level, there is at least one
committee co-chaired by a Federal minister from Sarawak. We now hear about
a committee on “devolution” chaired by the Sabah State Secretary plus
another one chaired by a minister.
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Why is there now a maze of committees that can only delay and bury the
issue of Sabah Rights? Since the 40% entitlement (a revenue right) is part
of the constitution, all that remains is for the Federal government to
implement it. That’s all. As I understand it, more than a year ago, a team
from Sabah had submitted to the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister a
memorandum on the 40% entitlement. That is already the highest level of
government. What is there left for a Sabah committee to do? Is this Sabah
Rights Review Committee another farce like the RCI Technical Committee
that has gone “missing in action”?
The lack of confidence on the government is compounded by the scary fact
government leaders do not know the difference between devolution and
autonomy. Devolution, like decentralisation, is top-down delegation of
powers from a central government in a unitary state, such as a kingdom, to
lower levels of government. Whereas, autonomy means that a country like
Sabah retains all residual powers other than specific powers (such as
external defence and foreign affairs) passed on to the federal (not
central) government. Whereas an autonomous state is master of itself, a
devolved state is merely a sub-division of the bigger unitary nation. To
ask for devolution is to make Sabah subservient to Malaya. To fight for
autonomy is to insist that we are masters of ourselves. Hence, what Sabah
should be striving for is autonomy, not devolution.
Ultimately, Sabah will rid Sabah of Malaya parties in order to regain full
autonomy so that Sabahans are free to elect our own Government with no
interference from Malaya parties of whatever ideology or race.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee