An accord was reached with activists from Malaysian Borneo, in Singapore yesterday afternoon, under the aegis of the International Civil Rights Movement (InCiRiM).
Hindraf chair P Waythamoorthy, (left) in a telephone call to Malaysiakini, disclosed that he also heads InCiRiM, registered in Britain as an advocacy group.
“We are happy to work with other marginalised groups in the country in our struggle for equal rights and human rights,” he said.
“It has been a longstanding sore point ,especially in Sabah and Sarawak, that we are speaking up for just a section of marginalised society.”
The Hindraf chairperson declined to name the activists from Sabah and Sarawak.
They caught up with Waythamoorthy after his meeting with Pakatan Rakyat coordinator Zaid Ibrahim on Monday in Singapore over its Common Policy Framework (CPF).
Malaysia agreement under question
Hindraf gave Zaid (right) a copy of its 18-Point Memorandum, which the Badawi government refused to accept, and briefed him on the history of the movement and its pending class action suit against the British and Malaysian governments in London.
“The only Malaysian Borneo group that I can mention publicly is the Common Interest Group (CIG) in Sabah headed by Dr Kitingan (Jeffery Gapari),” said Waythamoorthy.
He then sketched a broad outline of what rights activists in Malaysian Borneo were concerned about.
“In both Sabah and Sarawak, the concern is that the federal government has been in non-compliance with the 1963 Malaysia Agreement,” he said.
He pointed out that the situation had changed somewhat for the two states since the departure of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965.
“There should have been a review after it left but this was not done.
“Sabah and Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia because of Singapore and with the republic’s exit from Malaysia, the federation no longer exists,” he said.
Waythamoorthy added that he was given to understand that the definition of federation in the present Malaysian Constitution no longer follows the Malaysia Agreement.
“Federation now means as it was in the old Federation of Malaya Constitution.”
The legal implications, according to Waythamoorthy, appear to be the Federation of Malaya re-emerging as the Federation of Malaysia with almost the same Constitution after Singapore’s exit.
In short, a Malaysia minus Singapore appears to suggest that Sabah and Sarawak joined the Federation and not help with its formation in 1963.
“This is the main reason why the Federal government refused to have anything to do with Malaysia Day for nearly half a century,” claimed Waythamoorthy. “Malaysia Day will now become a debating point in the country.”
First in a series of briefings
Waythamoorthy added that there were other concerns expressed by the rights activists from Malaysian Borneo.
These include the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and their becoming citizens through the backdoor and/or otherwise padding the electoral rolls at the expense of indigenous groups.
In Sarawak, the main concern was the existing power structure which functions like a proxy of the ruling elite in Kuala Lumpur.
This has translated, among others, into the loss of native land to huge plantation companies including those from the Peninsula.
“I may be wrong but my reading is that the activists in Sabah and Sarawak are not very interested in Peninsula-Malaysia based political parties. They would prefer to be a neutral or balancing political force,” he said.
The House of Commons briefing is the first in a series that Hindraf has lined up for next year.
Other briefings, not all confirmed according to Waythamoorthy, include the US State Department, the United Nations and the European Parliament.
The latter meetings may include rights activists from Malaysian Borneo.
Waythamoorthy denied that his schedule next year amounts to a smear campaign against the country.
“It is not true. This is the kind of propaganda in the mainstream media which even claimed that Hindraf was a terrorist organisation,” he said.
“We are actually trying to rescue the country from the same small clique that has been holding the people to ransom since independence. We need change and reform.”
Asked how he planned to do it, Waythamoorthy said that it could be done “by raising the awareness level of the international community to what is actually going on in Malaysia”.
“In the globalised environment that we live in today, what happens in one country affects another,” he added.
“When a country does not give everyone a place in the sun, the political and security risks are heightened. This is a matter of concern to the international community.”
He claimed that the net result of present Malaysian government policies has resulted in poor international credit rating for the country and local companies with foreign investment drying up and dropping values in the stock market, in property prices and in demand for the ringgit.
“It’s only the petrodollars from Petronas that keeps the whole circus going at the moment,” charged Waythamoorthy.
CIG chair Jeffrey stressed that he did not want to issue a lengthy statement on the activists from Malaysian Borneo working with Hindraf through InCiRiM.
“Whatever the InCiRiM chairman (Waythamoorthy) has said so far in his statement is okay with me,” he said.
“I have no wish to add to that. All I can say is that CIG will be playing a very active role in the change and reform agenda in Sabah and Sarawak.”
Jeffrey said he had a productive meeting with Waythamoorthy who took some time off to also explain the history of Hindraf and the current status of its struggle.
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