KUALA LUMPUR: Any suggestion that Sabah and Sarawak secede from Malaysia should be treated as sedition, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Monday.
The Kota Belud MP also dismissed claims by Monash University Malaysia academician Prof James Chin that a slight majority of East Malaysians wished to cede from the country.
"That is a very seditious statement because under the 20-point agreement signed by both parties (Federation of Malaya, and Sabah and Sarawak in 1963), secession is considered treason under Malaysian law.
"Therefore, we cannot secede from Malaysia," he said, adding that Chin's statement was far off the mark in both states.
"As Barisan Nasional secretary in Sabah, never have I come across anyone who had presented their grievances and suggested secession of the state as a solution."
Rahman, who was speaking to reporters after launching the Sime Darby Housing-Income index study, also advised Chin to be more careful when issuing such statements, saying it was a sensitive matter.
Chin, in forum titled Towards A Fairer Electoral System on Sunday, claimed there were growing calls by the grassroots majority in Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia as they felt mistreated under the 50-year-old Malaysia Agreement.
Meanwhile, Rahman also expressed his support for more parliamentary and state seats to be added in East Malaysia, in line with the 1963 agreement.
Responding to a call by non-governmental organisation Tindakan Malaysia over the weekend for more proportionate electoral constituencies, Abdul Rahman said the idea would give Sabah and Sarawak "better footing" in the country's administration.
"Several years ago, the idea to increase more parliamentary and state seats in East Malaysia was mooted and discussed in the Parliament.
"The then Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz agreed to the plan but we have yet to see its implementation," he said adding that the Election Commission should consider the move when it commences its re-delineation exercise next month.
Sabah and Sarawak currently have a collective 56 seats in Parliament, translating to 25% of the parliamentary seat allocation.