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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Workers in East Malaysia discriminated against by Minimum Wage Order

Now, what is revealed is that this BN government is really not so bothered about workers in East Malaysia and their families and/or dependents...

By fixing the minimum wage for East Malaysian workers at ONLY RM800, far below the poverty line income of Sabah and Sarawak, the government will keep East Malaysians workers and their families poor - nay, maybe even increase the number of workers earning less than poverty line income

In setting the minimum wage for workers in Malaysia, one of the primary consideration was that these workers receive at the very least wages above the POVERTY LINE INCOME

 

The Malaysian Government has decided that the Minimum Wage that workers in Peninsular Malaysia would be entitled to beginning 1 January 2013 is RM900-00, and this figure is above the Poverty Line Income for Peninsular Malaysia in 2009, being RM763.

BUT for workers from East Malaysia,  this BN government fixed minimum wages at only RM800  that is LOWER than the poverty line income in Sabah (RM1,048) and Sarawak (RM912) - Why? Why are they treated as though they are 'step children' of Malaysia? Remember their 'minimum wage' will be lower than that of workers in Peninsular Malaysia, when in fact based on their poverty line income, it should have reasonably been higher...

The other reason is, according to our National Employment Returns 2009, 34% of 1.3 million workers in the study earn less than RM700. It could be more. Our Government has determined the poverty line to RM720, so we have by virtue of the wage mechanism itself, we are creating poverty in about 34% of people on the go, without doing anything else at all. So when the Government decided the poverty rate is RM720 and our wage mechanism by virtue implementation as we have, shows that 34-35% of below poverty line and that is something to do and to think about. How does wage address the issues of capacity to live in this country is important issues and because of this we have this phenomenon of very low income group within the urban sector and the stresses of life which is associated with it. So we will have to accept all these facts and find a solution on how we are going to address it. The issue which we all agree is that the wages have to be increased. -

Our Government has determined the poverty line income for  Sabah and Sarawak is RM1048 and RM912 respectively, , so ... by virtue of the wage mechanism itself (Minimum Wage Order 2012 that fixes minimum wage for East Malaysian workers at RM800) , the government will be creating poverty in a very high percentage of workers in Sabah and Sarawak when employers will pay them RM800 minimum wage by virtue of this Federal Government Order.....So, poverty amongst Sabahan and Sarawakian families will be allowed to continue to exist or increased not by 'without doing anything else at all' but by virtue of a Federal Government Order....

Analysis of average wages offered by employers participating in the ministry’s Fast Track Programme from October-December 2009 is shown in the following table

Fast Track: Average Wages and Allowances for Local Workers
According to Manufacturing Sector Sub-Industry
SUB-INDUSTRY
BASIC WAGES
(RM)
FIXED ALLOWANCES
GROSS WAGES (RM)
Electric & Electronic
547.82
202.16
749.98
Furniture
679.12
94.80
773.98
Plastic
636.19
136.55
772.74
Glove
565.14
169.96
735.10
Textile
613.99
116.53
730.52
Average Total
626.76
135.46
762.20
Source: http://www.mohr.gov.my/blog/table1.pdf

Querries: Is this using the same data as National Employment Returns 2009? What about workers in the plantation, agricultural, construction, commercial, mining,... sectors? Data provided by employer only, or both employer and workers? Does it include workers in Sabah and Sarawak?

"... The market forces in our country should increase in everything else except wages, right? Inflation increased, cost of living increased, income of company increased and everything else increases but wages didn’t increase. So somehow or rather this phenomenon of market forces did not work and we have to go to the basic fact why it didn’t work.
There is another area to think, another area to analyze of why didn’t market forces caused upward movement of wages in this country for the lower category of people and what are the reasons for it?..."

If  I was the government, I will  fix the Minimum Wage at RM1,500-00 for this will be above all poverty line income, and this will also in line with what workers in the public sector in Malaysia are being paid.

"...If you compare private and public sector, a stenographer or typist in the public sector which we now call the N17 scale, their starting salary is about RM1,500. Whereas a similar person employed in the private sector, gets about RM900 to RM1,000. There is a big gap now between private sector and public sector. Previously, it used to be private sector which was higher than public sector but now the public sector has overtaken the private sector..."

Poverty line income in 2012? The number of poor in Malaysia increasing or decreasing

The BN government happily tells us that our poverty rate is dropping. Reading a lot of speeches and reports we see how thanks to the BN government, our poverty rate has dropped...we are given statistics (percentages) of how much it has dropped - BUT the question is always what exactly is that poverty line income that is being used. How is it calculated? Is it reasonable? What was the earlier poverty line incomes? How do you even derive this percentages showing dropping poverty rates... is it based on a survey of all Malaysians, or just a sampling, and if a sampling what the number sampled, etc. Was it just workers in the public sector and their families that were sampled? Malaysians need to know all this - our trust and belief in the ruling government and its Ministers are faltering...trust is disappearing....and only transparency may help regain some of the lost trust.

The state’s poverty rate dropped from 24.2 per cent in 2004 to 19.7 per cent in 2009, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman disclosed yesterday. He said the marked decrease in the poverty rate is in the interior areas which recorded a 13.2 per cent reduction from 29.0 per cent in 2004 to 15.8 per cent in 2009. - Government Transformation Program Website, Borneo Post, 7/9/2012, Poverty rate drops drastically in interior – CM

What is Malaysia's poverty line income? The Human Resource Minister said that it was RM720 in a speech on August, 2010, but then a Malaysian Insider report, aparently in reliance with the 10th Malaysia Report released on June 2010, and the New Economic Report released in April that year tells us that the poverty income line for Malaysia in 2009 is RM800.
"...The other reason is, according to our National Employment Returns 2009, 34% of 1.3 million workers in the study earn less than RM700. It could be more. Our Government has determined the poverty line to RM720, so we have by virtue of the wage mechanism itself, we are creating poverty in about 34% of people on the go, without doing anything else at all. So when the Government decided the poverty rate is RM720 and our wage mechanism by virtue implementation as we have, shows that 34-35% of below poverty line and that is something to do and to think about...." - 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, those figures were for 2009, what then is the new poverty line income for 2012 - given that subsidies for sugar have been reduced, and certainly cost of living has gone up....oh yes, now we even have to pay that extra service tax...mmm 

The BN government really must be transparent as to how the poverty line income is calculated, and also reveal information about past poverty line incomes...and when it changed, etc. 

If Peninsular Malaysias, poverty line income is RM763, then...

“RM5.80 is supposed to pay for three meals, transport costs, rent, recreation and the other components for ONE person in ONE day. Tell me, can a Malaysian in the Peninsula even buy three meals a day on RM5.80?

Looking at the poverty income line for 2009, it is obvious that it is higher for Sabah (RM1048) and Sarawak (RM912), whilst for Peninsular Malaysia it is RM763.

So, how can the BN government justify setting the minimum wage for Peninsular Malaysia at RM900, and for Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan at RM800. Rightly, the minimum wages of workers in East Malaysia should have been so much higher at the very least equivalent to their poverty line income.

Someone told me once that to show a country's poverty rate is dropping is something that could very easily be achieved the poverty line income, or keeping the poverty line income low... Wonder whether that is what our government need to demonstrate how successfully it has eradicated poverty in Malaysia? What do you think?

How poor are we, really?

July 21, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — The government likes to boast that Malaysia has almost erased poverty. It is the one unchallenged success that is shouted out again and again to show how far we have come since Merdeka.

The line is familiar: “In 1970, 49.7 per cent of households were living in poverty. Now it is only 3.8 per cent.” Or out of 6.2 million households, only 228,400 can be classified as poor.

These 228,400 are households that earn an average of RM800 a month and below.

Is RM800 a fair cut-off point? Because it effectively means that if a household of four earns RM900, RM1,000, or even RM1,500 a month, they cannot be considered poor.

If that is the case, then why are there more and more media reports of families complaining that they cannot make ends meet even when they earn RM2,000?

How did the government calculate and decide that RM800 is the poverty line?

Jayanath Appudurai, who writes extensively on poverty for the Centre for Policy Initiatives, believes that the government’s calculations are unrealistic.

Here, he argues that we need a new standard to measure poverty — one that more accurately represents the cost of food, clothing, rent and other basic necessities, and how much it takes for an average family of four to keep themselves afloat in today’s Malaysia.

Jayanath’s assessment is based on government data in its 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) report released in June, and the New Economic Model (NEM) that was out in April.

The Poverty Income Level (PLI) is defined as:
“An income that is necessary to buy a group of foods that would meet the nutritional needs of the members of a household. The income is also to meet other basic necessities such as clothing, rent, fuel and utilities, transport and communications, medical expenses, education and recreation.”

Plainly speaking, the PLI is how much money in a month a Malaysian household needs to meet these eight components.

Though the Government calculates different PLIs for Malaysia’s three regions, the total average PLI is RM800.

For this demonstration, Jayanath uses the Peninsula PLI of RM763.

A household living in the peninsula is considered poor only if its monthly income is below RM763.

“The government claims that it uses a World Bank standard to measure PLI. But they do not reveal the actual methodology of how they arrive at RM763,” says Jeyanath.

The World Bank standard, Jayanath says, recommends that medium-income countries should calculate PLI based on US$2 (RM6.20) per individual per day. Meaning one person would need US$2 per day in order to meet both food and non-food necessities.

If that figure were used for Malaysia, a theoretical household of 4.4 people would then need RM858 a month to not be declared poor.

The government considers a household as comprising an average of 4.4 members, says Jayanath. (Total number of households divided by total population = 4.4).

The PLI of RM763, therefore, is translated into a daily income of RM25.45 that a household needs to meet the eight components such as food, rent, clothing and fuel.

“Or, that if a member of a household earns RM5.80 a day, they cannot be considered poor.

Since, according to the government, you are able to live on RM5.80 a day.

In other words Jayanath explains:

“RM5.80 is supposed to pay for three meals, transport costs, rent, recreation and the other components for ONE person in ONE day. Tell me, can a Malaysian in the Peninsula even buy three meals a day on RM5.80?

“In fact, I’d challenge our government ministers to try that,” said Jayanath

Jayanath says countries such as Britain and Australia calculate PLIs based on the median income of its households. The median income is a country’s total income divided by half.

The PLI is two-thirds of the median income.
In Malaysia the median income is RM2,830. Using this method, the PLI would then be RM1,886.

In effect, this translates into RM14.20 per day for an individual to meet all their eight needs.

“Compared to RM5.80, is not RM14.20 a more realistic figure in terms of how much one needs per day in Malaysia?”

A former finance minister had once said, repeatedly, that if we were to revise how we measure poverty, our poverty rate would not be the vaunted 3.8 per cent. He is right, technically.

Jayanath’s calculations would put Malaysia’s poverty rate at somewhere between 31 to 32 per cent.

“Our poverty level looks good on paper but woefully ignores reality. We are so obsessed with selling this story that we are a success.”

Statistics are supposed to accurately measure our economic environment, so that in this case, pin-point policies to deal with poverty can be crafted.

The government has begun scaling back subsidies so that they would only benefit those they are meant for — the poor.

How is it supposed to do this if we cannot even accurately measure who the poor are? - The Malaysian Insider, 21/7/2010, How poor are we, really?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Federal Court says 'No' to Bukit Koman but struggle can go on

Well, the residents of Bukit Koman lost at the Federal Court - and worse, they were also required to pay cost of RM15,000.

In short, this was an application for extension of time to file an application challenging the  Department of Environment director-general's (DG) approval of a preliminary environmental impact assessment (PEIA) report submitted by a gold mining company.

The court rules say that you must file the application in court within 40 days

And, I feel the stringent following of procedural requirements as contained in court rules is not JUST - for I believe that the community hear have a valid right to challenge this approval  for after all there is perceived health concerns, and should not the courts just hear their application on the merits rather than shutting their access to court using 'technical points' - in this case, the time for challenging the approval has passed.... 

Is this not a 'Public Interest Litigation'? Should not the courts be interested in ensuring justice be done ...and seen to be done. 

All that the people were asking was an 'extension of time' so that they could file the application asking the court to review the correctness of the approval of the DG of Environment.. So, if I were the judge, I will say 'OK....extension granted' - and will let these people bring their matter to court - and the Court will justly consider whether the said DG made the correct decision or not...

Maybe, the residents need to re-consider and file another suit .... (Hopefully, they have not lost faith in the Malaysian courts and the government...and 'give up'..)

Legal challenge is one option - but the government can also ACT for and on behalf of the people....(i.e. if it cares for the people)

Now - they have their operating license.... BUT then do they not need other permissions from the Local Council, ...from the State,...Surely, their mining operation is not solely reliant on the permission of the DG of Environment ... Should not the Ministry of Health also be involved - is this not an issue of public health...and health concerns? I am just wondering....so maybe the people of Bukit Koman may have other options when it comes to action....

Should the Raub Gold Mine be closed? Is their operations affecting the health of the Bukit Koman Community, or is a health risk? The people there seem to believe that gold mining using cyanide is affecting their health and the environment - the mining company disagrees. There certainly is a 'dispute', and in such cases it is best for the court (or even a 'caring government') to intervene and get to the truth.

Updated: Thursday September 6, 2012 MYT 7:23:47 PM

Bukit Koman residents lose legal battle


PUTRAJAYA: The villagers of Kampung Bukit Koman in Raub lost their legal battle at the Federal Court, here, on Thursday to challenge the Department of Environment director-general's (DG) approval of a preliminary environmental impact assessment (PEIA) report submitted by a gold mining company.

A five-member panel led by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif unanimously dismissed the appeal brought by the villagers who wanted the Federal Court to grant them permission (leave) to initiate a judicial review application to challenge the DG's decision.

Justice Raus ruled that the villagers were guilty of delay in filing their leave for judicial review application.

He said the villagers also did not provide good reasons to be granted extension of time to enable them to file their application.

Order 53, Rule 6 of the Rules of the High Court 1980 states that an application for leave for judicial review shall be made promptly and in any event within 40 days from the date when the grounds of the application first arose or when the decision was first communicated to the applicant.

The panel, also comprising Federal Court judges Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong, Datuk Ahmad Maarop, Datuk Hasan Lah and Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari ordered them to pay RM15,000 in legal costs.

The court also answered the sole legal question posed, in the negative.

The question of law was whether a court, in determining an application for extension of time to file a leave application, is required to consider the merits of the applicants' complaint set out in their leave application to commence a judicial review.

Justice Raus also said two decisions of the Federal Court Mersing Omnibus Co Sdn Bhd vs Minister of Labour and Manpower and Ravindran vs Malaysian Examination Council which held that the merits of the case would not be dealt with when seeking for extension of time to file a judicial review was a good law as those cases were decided on the exercising of the court's discretion.

Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, representing the villagers, contended that the decision in those two cases ought to be reversed.

Lawyer Tan Sri Cecil Abraham, representing Australian Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGMSB), told reporters that following the court's verdict, RAGMSB could continue with the mining and that the judicial review had ended.

Meanwhile, Malik said although the Federal Court had been conservative in its decision, he respected the decision, adding that the villagers would have to consider other options. 

The DG approved the PEIA report on Jan 13, 1997. Via a letter dated Feb 21, 2008, the DG declined to accede to the residents' request to review the PEIA and to require Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGMSB) to provide a detailed one.

On March 21, 2008, four representatives of the residents, Wong Kin Hoong, Chong Sow Pin, Hue Fui How and another person (who died early this year) filed leave to initiate a judicial review application naming the Environment DG and RAGMSB.

The villagers who claimed to have suffered health problems from the use of cyanide in a gold mine, wanted the DG to require RAGMSB to furnish a detailed EIA report as they claimed the preliminary EIA (PEIA) report submitted by the gold mining company on Aug 27, 1996 contained serious deficiencies.

They claimed the PEIA report omitted information on where and how treatment of gold mining waste should be disposed of, and also contained inadequate information on discharge of effluents.

The High Court refused to grant leave to the villagers to initiate a judicial review on grounds that there was an inordinate delay by them in filing the application and that they did not have good reasons for the court to grant an extension of time for them to file their application.

They also lost their appeal at the Court of Appeal. On Jan 11, this year, the Federal Court granted them leave to appeal against the High Court's decision to the Federal Court. - Bernama - Star, 6/9/2012, Bukit Koman residents lose legal battle


Related Earlier Post:

15,000 turned up in Raub and today Federal Court case

Malaysia Agreement, 20-point(Sabah) and 18-point(Sarawak) agreement

Many people are at a lost as to why Sabah and Sarawak are treated differently from the rest of the States in Peninsular Malaysia, and the reason for this was that the formation of Malaysia comes as a result of an agreement between Peninsular Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and the British Colonial government - the Malaysia Agreement

Malaysia Agreement- 20 point-18 point sabah sarawak

Now, in joining Malaysia, Sabah, in order to protect certain specified sovereign rights also had what we know as the 20-point Agreement.

Sarawak had  a similar 18-point agreement
Singapore cease to be a state of Malaysia on 9 August 1965 become an independent state. (Why? - there is of course the Malaysian government's version and other versions - this, maybe we will discuss later)


The 20 points (which relates to SABAH)

Point 1: Religion

While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo.[23]

Point 2: Language

  • a. Malay should be the national language of the Federation
  • b. English should continue to be used for a period of 10 years after Malaysia Day
  • c. English should be an official language of North Borneo for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time.[23]

Point 3: Constitution

Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of a free association of states and should not be a series of amendments to a Constitution drafted and agreed by different states in totally different circumstances. A new Constitution for North Borneo (Sabah) was of course essential. .[23]

Point 4: Head of Federation

The Head of State in North Borneo should not be eligible for election as Head of the Federation, but the Ruler or Governors of Sabah and Sarawak shall be members of the Conference of Rulers[5] its main responsibility is the election of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Point 5: Name of Federation

“Malaysia” but not “Melayu Raya”

Point 6: Immigration

Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the Central Government but entry into North Borneo should also require the approval of the State Government. The Federal Government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into North Borneo for State Government purposes except on strictly security grounds. North Borneo should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in Federal Government employ from other parts of Malaysia into North Borneo.[23]

Point 7: Right of Secession

There should be no right to secede from the Federation.[36]

Point 8: Borneanisation

Borneanisation of the public service should proceed as quickly as possible.[36]

Point 9: British Officers

Every effort should be made to encourage British Officers to remain in the public service until their places can be taken by suitably qualified people from North Borneo.[36]

Point 10: Citizenship

The recommendation in paragraph 148(k) of the Report of the Cobbold Commission should govern the citizenship rights in the Federation of North Borneo subject to the following amendments:
  • a) sub-paragraph (i) should not contain the proviso as to five years residence
  • b) in order to tie up with our law, sub-paragraph (ii)(a) should read “7 out of 10 years” instead of “8 out of 10 years”
  • c) sub-paragraph (iii) should not contain any restriction tied to the citizenship of parents – a person born in North Borneo after Malaysia must be federal citizen.[36]

Point 11: Tariffs and Finance

North Borneo should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff,[36] and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.

Point 12: Special position of indigenous races

In principle the indigenous races of North Borneo should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present Malaya formula in this regard is not necessarily applicable in North Borneo.[36]

Point 13: State Government

  • a) the Chief Minister should be elected by unofficial members of Legislative Council
  • b) There should be a proper Ministerial system in North Borneo.[36]

Point 14: Transitional period

This should be seven years and during such period legislative power must be left with the State of North Borneo by the Constitution and not be merely delegated to the State Government by the Federal Government.[36]

Point 15: Education

The existing educational system of North Borneo should be maintained and for this reason it should be under state control.[36]

Point 16: Constitutional safeguards

No amendment modification or withdrawal of any special safeguard granted to North Borneo should be made by the Central Government without the positive concurrence of the Government of the State of North Borneo
The power of amending the Constitution of the State of North Borneo should belong exclusively to the people in the state.[36] (Note: The United Party, The Democratic Party and the Pasok Momogun Party considered that a three-fourth majority would be required in order to effect any amendment to the Federal and State Constitutions whereas the UNKO and USNO considered a two-thirds majority would be sufficient.)

Point 17: Representation in Federal Parliament

This should take account not only of the population of North Borneo but also of its size and potentialities and in any case should not be less than that of Singapore.[36]

Point 18: Name of Head of State

Yang di-Pertua Negara.[36]

Point 19: Name of State

Sabah.[36]

Point 20: Land, Forests, Local Government, etc.

The provisions in the Constitution of the Federation in respect of the powers of the National Land Council should not apply in North Borneo. Likewise, the National Council for Local Government should not apply in North Borneo.[36]

The 18-point Agreement (with regards to Sarawak)
- it seems that the headings are the same for the first 18 points, and for Sarawak there is no last 2 points (but we really need to look at the text) 
The 18-points Agreement signed on July 9, 1963 before the formation of  Malaysia is an important document safeguarding the rights and autonomy of Sarawak and Sarawakians. 

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/09/16/an-agreement-forged-and-forgotten/#ixzz26baJA1M5
Some of the points were incorporated into the Constitution of Malaysia while the rest of Sarawak’s 18 points are outlined as follows: Point

1: Religion Point
2: Language Point
3: Constitution Point
4: Head of the federation Point
5: Name of the federation Point
6: Immigration Point
7: Right to secession Point
8: Borneanisation Point
9: British Offi cers Point
10: Citizenship Point
11: Tariffs and Finance Point
12: Special position of indigenous races Point
13: State Government Point
14: Transitional period Point
15: Education Point
16: Constitutional safeguards Point
17: Representation in Federal Parliament Point
18: Name of Head of State

I have been searching the net for the text of the 18-point agreement with Sarawak, but I could not find it, and the best indicator was an article from Borneo Post 

An agreement forged and forgotten

by Karen Bong and Wilfred Pilo. Posted on September 16, 2011, Friday

The 18-points Agreement signed on July 9, 1963 before the formation of  Malaysia is an important document safeguarding the rights and autonomy of Sarawak and Sarawakians. So why don’t we know it?

NOT many Sarawakians are well-versed in the 18-points Agreement and only some have heard some aspects if not all of the salient points representatives of Sarawak laid out prior to the formation of Malaysia.
A survey held by The Borneo Post, however, discovered that people are not only unsure of its contents, many did not even know what it was. One answer to the query about their opinion of the 18 points Agreement was this: “18-points?

Is that a hole on the golfing green?”

Contrary to some opinions, ignorance is not bliss. Without any knowledge of our rights as Sarawakians, what do we know of our place within the federation of Malaysia?

A little history

The 20/18-points Agreement or memorandum were the conditions laid out by Sabah and Sarawak respectively before agreeing to form the Federation of Malaysia with the Federation of Malaya and Singapore.

The agreements, which can be found in the Proclamation of Malaysia and also the Cobbold Commission reports, stated the conditions and rights that were meant to safeguard the autonomy and the special interest of the people of Sabah and Sarawak, protecting, among others, these regions’ rights on religion, language, education, administration, economy and culture.

Some of the points were incorporated into the Constitution of Malaysia while the rest of Sarawak’s 18 points are outlined as follows: Point
1: Religion Point
2: Language Point
3: Constitution Point
4: Head of the federation Point
5: Name of the federation Point
6: Immigration Point
7: Right to secession Point
8: Borneanisation Point
9: British Offi cers Point
10: Citizenship Point
11: Tariffs and Finance Point
12: Special position of indigenous races Point
13: State Government Point
14: Transitional period Point
15: Education Point
16: Constitutional safeguards Point
17: Representation in Federal Parliament Point
18: Name of Head of State

DR JENIRI AMIR, SENIOR LECTURER

“The decision to accept the proposal by Tunku Abdul Rahman to become part of the federation of Malaysia was made by the people of Sabah and Sarawak on the understanding that the special interests of the state would be safeguarded. The interests of the two states were enshrined in the 20/18 Point Agreement.

Our rights were also inscribed in the London Agreements and Inter-Governmental Committee Reports.
When we agreed to form Malaysia together with North Borneo (Sabah), Singapore and Malaya 48 years ago, it was with the understanding that the safeguards were to be honoured and not taken away according to the whims and fancies of the federal government.

Based on the recommendations of the Cobbold Commission, Sabah and Sarawak would become equal partners of the state of the Federation of Malaya; not as one of the component states as stipulated in the original Article 1 of the Federal Constitution.

In other words, Sabah and Sarawak are partners of Malaysia, thus having a greater degree of fi nancial and political autonomy as compared to other sates in the Peninsula.

Sabah and Sarawak should not end up being merely one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

Therefore, it is paramount for the federal government to adhere to covenants for the purpose of safeguarding the interests, rights and autonomy of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

The 20/18-point agreement should not be ignored or eroded.

Thus, certain policies and the relationships between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak must be re-looked to address whatever imbalance in terms of infrastructure, social, economic or educational developments between the centre and periphery in the last 48 years.

More financial allocations should be channelled to Sabah and Sarawak.

The federal government should increase the petroleum royalty to at least 15 per cent from the current 5 per cent.

Therefore, the spirit of the 20/18-point agreement should be safeguarded and honoured for the interest of our future generations and more importantly to ensure a progressive, united and harmonious multi-racial nation.

Malaysia as a nation was formed of equal partners; Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaysia. Together with Sabah, Malaya and Singapore, Sarawak formed Malaysia.

By implication, we are equal under the constitution. Our political leaders should understand, respect and honour the agreement.


EDMUND LEE AH SEE, SENIOR BANKER

“Let’s run through this love story – a handsome young man called Malaya had just held a lavish ‘coming-of-age’ birthday party on Aug 31 1957.

On the other side of the South China Sea, a beautiful young maiden called Sarawak celebrated her birthday on July 22, 1963.

This young man courted and subsequently won the heart of Sarawak and both were married on September 16th 1963 in a low-key ceremony and both took the common family name of Malaysia.

As in any marriage, vows and promises were exchanged and this lady was assured of her rights under a pre-nuptial document known as the 18-points Agreement.

The husband continued to celebrate his birthday lavishly every August 31 while the wife’s birthday was conveniently forgotten.

One fine day, the dutiful wife gently reminded the husband that August 31 was his birthday while September 16 was actually their wedding anniversary – she politely chose not to mention her own birthday or the broken promises and vows.

And with that, the couple celebrated their wedding anniversary and named it Malaysia Day.

But the wife was still hurt by the lack of attention and broken promises from the husband, though she continued to be the dutiful and responsible wife.

I believe it was with noble intentions that our leaders made that fateful decision on our behalf to enter into the Federation of Malaysia.

These intentions were reinforced with the incorporation of the 18- points Agreement to safeguard the rights and autonomy of our state, notwithstanding the benefits of joining the Federation.

These 18-points took into account our ‘uniqueness’ in terms of demographics, culture, racial composition, religious diversities as well as our ‘less-developed’ status as compared to our counterparts in Malaya and Singapore, at that critical point of time.

We were also assured of autonomy in the administration of land and immigration matters.

Education, extended usage of English and the ‘Borneanisation of the Civil service’ were also mentioned.

Moreover, we were also assured of ‘special rights and privileges’ for our natives as enjoyed by their counterparts in Malaya – ‘guaranteed’ would be a more appropriate word.

It was also mentioned that our Head of State would not be eligible to become the Agung and secession from the Federation is not an option.

However, over the years, it appeared that these 18-points were often not honoured or were slowly eroded, with justifications for better political, economic, social and administrative ‘uniformity.’

While the state may need to give way to facilitate a smoother implementation of policies in areas like education and development, many Sarawakians begin to feel that the state is giving too much and receiving too little in return.

Common grouses take the form of our relatively poorer basic infrastructures like roads, electricity and public transport.

There are also the issues of lesser opportunities in the civil service where senior positions are usually held by West Malaysians, running contrary to the ‘Borneonisation’ of the Civil service as spelt out in the 18-points Agreement.

Of late, even the ‘sensitive’ issues of race and religion have been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

May this celebration of Malaysia Day lead to greater peace and harmony among Malaysians from all walks of life and May our leaders renew the vows and promises made on that fateful day of Sept 16 1963 – Malaysia, truly Asia, unity in diversity.

‘Happy Malaysia Day’.

SABRINA RAFAELLA, COMPANY EXECUTIVE

“I remember Point 1 although some people still refuse to accept it because it states that Sarawak has no official religion.

It is good because we have freedom of religion in the state especially in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society in Sarawak.

Another one I remember is Point 2 in that English is the official language in Borneo. It should be after all we were under the Rajah Brooke and also the British.

They took so much from us and I do not see why they cannot leave their language as a legacy for all Sarawakians. In fact, we should use it apart from our mother tongues all the time officially and unofficially since we are living in a border less world.

Doesn’t that count?

Every Sarawakian should read the memorandum.

Yes, we are free from the British colony, but to date, there is so much more that needs to be done. We hope to get our fair share in the future and that my generation will see a better Sarawak and fair Malaysia.

Happy Malaysia Day to all in truly Malaysian spirit.

NORMAN TAN, SENIOR RESEARCH ANALYST

“The 18-points Agreement made between Sarawak and Malaya during the formation of Malaysia is crucial to Sarawak’s standing in the country as a whole, and to the preservation of the identity of the state.

Point 2(c.) States that English should be one of the official languages of the state indefinitely, which I agree wholeheartedly with since English is an international language.

I also believe that Point 11, which states that Sarawak should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff, is crucial to the state as it gives us a certain degree of autonomy over our own finances and economy.

Point 16 of the 18 Points Agreement touches on Constitutional safeguards for the Sarawak State Constitution, which is the foundation of any legislation passed in the state.

The point states that no amendment, modification or withdrawal of any special safeguard granted to Sarawak should be made by the federal government without the consent and approval from the state itself.

Coupled with Point 17, which guarantees Sarawakians representation in federal parliament, it ensures that the wants and needs of Sarawakians will not only be heard, but also be processed and executed via the proper legal and executive channels.

In short, I believe that the federal government should honour the 18-points Agreement with Sarawak, for as long as Sarawak remains in the Federation.

I would also like to express my hope that all current and future Sarawakian state assembly and Parliament members will always carry out their duty entrusted to them by the people of Sarawak and protect the 18-points Agreement.”


GEOFFARY SIGAI, ARCHITECT

“The way Malayans treat us, I believe gives us all reason to get out of Malaysia.

But at this stage I think it is not possible. The Malayans have been violating our 18-points Agreement, particularly points 2, 12 and 15.

Point 12 says special rights are to be accorded to the natives of Sarawak on par with those enjoyed by 
Malays in Malaya.

How many Dayak/Ibans are successful in business, education, or in the top government position?

We are still lagging behind compared to West Malaysia and we are still developing our urban and rural areas.

People in the city are fi ne but those in the rural areas still lack basic infrastructure like water, road and electricity.

We are considered a developed nation but we still live in undeveloped conditions.

The 18 points is our right and something has to be done about it.

Luckily we have autonomy on immigration or else it would have opened the floodgates for others from other state to take what is ours, especially in the economic and business aspect.

I like it to remain our status quo and should stay under the state control because that was part of the agreement.

It should be exercised purely to safeguard the interest of the Sarawakian people at large.

However, Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole is a peaceful nation and I hope that our leaders do something more positive on the 18 points so that our interest will continue to safeguarded.

Sept 16 1963 was a historic moment and let us celebrate this Malaysia Day 2011 with hope and optimism.” - Borneo Post, 16/9/2011, An agreement forged and forgotten