Right to secession not allowed under Malaysia Agreement, says Attorney-General

KOTA KINABALU: The special rights for Sabah and Sarawak do not allow for the two states to secede from the federation of Malaysia and such calls are seditious.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said it was stated under the 20-point (Sabah) and 18-point (Sarawak) Malaysia Agreement that there should be no right to secede from the federation.

He said such talk of secession was against the spirit of the federation, which is based on a social contract of safeguards drawn under the Inter-Governmental Committee that was set up on the recommendations of the Cobbold Commission in 1962.

Such safeguards, he added, were included in the Malaysia Act, the Federal Constitution and the constitutions of the two states.

“This was the position taken by the people of Sabah and Sarawak themselves when they agreed to the formation of Malaysia.

“A disgruntled minority cannot now unilaterally change it,” Abdul Gani said when referring to the Facebook-based movement “Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia” in his speech at the Sabah and Sarawak Legal Year opening by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.

Touching on the issue of secession, Abdul Gani said if there was consensus for change, it should be done by the people affected without infringing on parliamentary democracy.

But if the issue is really about how the constitutional safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak were being implemented, then the arguments and debate should be focused accordingly and discourse carried out rationally, Abdul Gani noted.

He also said his office would provide quality legal advice and quick prosecution on security cases in Sabah and Sarawak, including the 2013 intrusion into Lahad Datu.

“Deputy public prosecutors have been placed in major districts like Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Tawau to ensure that offenders are brought to justice in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone),” he said.

With the recent release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report on immigrants in Sabah, further action was anticipated in relation to the enforcement of Malaysia’s immigration laws, he said.

Abdul Gani also spoke on the need for the proper understanding of the Native Customary Rights to ensure that the rights of the indigenous communities were protected.

“We have initiated a study on the effectiveness of the existing legal framework in dealing with the indigenous issues brought before the native courts and the continued relevance of these courts,” he said.

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