Janji Ditepati Public Hearings in Sabah have revealed the failure of the Barisan Nasional to honor the points engraved in the Keningau Oath Stone

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to revisit the historic Keningau Oath Stone together with Dato Seri’ Wilfred Bumburing, the MP for Tuaran who had recently left the BN and aligned himself with the opposition. The Oath Stone was erected as a reminder of the guarantee of the Federal Government to honor the 20 point agreement made with Sabah before the formation of Malaysia. Almost 48 years later, it is evident from the DAP Sabah initiated Janji Ditepati Public Hearings, that the three main points engraved in the Keningau Oath Stone – guaranteeing freedom of religion, upholding land autonomy and protecting native customs and traditions – have been cast aside by the BN government.

Sabahans from all walks of life and backgrounds in Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Ranau, Tenom and Keningau have voiced out clearly and loudly, with their personal testimonies, that the rights of the Sabahans have not been upheld but have instead been abused and ignored in contravention to the spirit of the Keningau Oath Stone.

No less than Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, the former Sabah state secretary, has expressed doubt in the empty slogan that is Janji Ditepati when he said, during the Kota Kinabalu public hearing, that ‘the government is very long on eye catching slogans but very short on delivery’ akin to ‘lots of thunder and lightning but without the rain appearing.’ He is particularly well placed in making the statement that the BN government does not have the political will to solve the problem of ‘Pendatang Asing Tanpa Asing’ (PATI) as evidenced by successive half hearted and failed attempts over the past 25 years. One particularly egregious example of an empty promise was that made by Musa Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah, in 2006, to solve the problem of the illegal immigrants in Pulau Gaya which to date remains far from being solved.

The fact that many of these PATIs have been included in the electoral roll was highlighted by Dr. Chong Eng Leong, an expert on the illegal immigration situation in Sabah and the author of “Lest We Forget (Security and Sovereignty of Sabah)”. Dr. Cheong estimates that there is between one to two million illegal immigrants in Sabah, on top of the 900,000 who are on the census, means that it is highly likely that native Sabahans are now outnumbered by foreigners in their own country. Dr. Cheong further assertion that up to 250,000 of these illegal immigrants have found their way into the electoral roll is a further demonstration that the voting strength of the native Sabahans have slowly but surely been diluted over time.

At the same time as illegal immigrants are being given citizenship and registered as voters, many Sabahans are still facing problems obtaining citizenship status and many native Sabahans are being denied their right to Sijil Anak Negeri (SAN). In Ranau, we met Mrs Chong Siew On who was born in Sabah in 1941 and she has a birth certificate as well as a Sijil Anak Negeri but her 4 applications for an IC were rejected leaving her with only a red Permanent Resident IC. We also met Puan Ramlah from Ulu Kinabatangan who has 7 children only 4 of whom have birth certificates. The other three children were denied birth certificates because she doesn’t have a marriage certificate. We also met Kenneth Tan, who, like many other Sino Natives, cannot pass down their lands to their children because they were born after 1982 and could not obtain Sijil Anak Negeri (SAN).

In Penampang, we were informed by Charles from Kota Marudu that many of the residents of a kampong in his area had become squatters in Kota Kinabalu after their land was taken from them. Osul from Moyog spoke about the dire situation faced by his village as they face threats of eviction after they were relocated to land that had yet to be gazetted after the construction of the Babagon dam. Johan from Ulu Papar also expressed his fears that the same fate may befall his village if the Kaiduan dam were to be built.

In Tenom, where we were informed by the police that we could not use a loudspeaker to speak to and hear from the rakyat, we were given evidence by Daniel Kalingang of individuals who complained to him that they were promised low cost PPRT housing, some more than 20 years, and are still waiting for their houses to be built and delivered.

In Keningau, we heard from Mattius from Pensiangan who testified that their MP, Joseph Kurup, promised that their roads would be paved with asphalt but this was only selectively done and now, most of them are full of holes. Robert Linggi from Kinangau shared his experience of how new cars were inevitably damaged in 2 or 3 days because of poor road conditions.

These are just a small sample of the personal stories shared by many Sabahans whom we met so far in our Janji Ditepati Public Hearings. With this long string of broken promises, it is only apt that we return to the spirit and intention of the Keningau Oath Stone to uphold the rights of Sabahans. It is also apt that Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing, MP for Tuaran, joined us for our Public Hearing in Keningau. The decision by Wilfred Bumburing, who was also the Deputy President of UPKO, to leave UPKO and the BN is a strong confirmation that he has no confidence of the BN’s ability to uphold the rights and welfare of ordinary Sabahans. We welcome his decision to leave the BN and we hope that he can play a meaningful part to bring about regime change in the next general election so that the spirit and intention of the Keningau Oath Stone can be fulfilled.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur