Borneons back Hindraf for new majority of minorities and moderate Muslims in Parliament

-Joe Fernandez

jeffrey-kitingan1 Hindraf Makkal Sakthi won its first converts on the other side of the South China Sea in early Dec when United Borneo Front (UBF) and Star (State Reform Party) chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan, gave a ringing endorsement in early Dec of its just-announced five-year Blueprint for the Indian Nation in Malaysia.

Borneo's Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPi MaFo) chairman, Daniel John Jambun, pre-empted Jeffrey’s endorsement with an announcement in late Nov.

The UK-based NGO's chairman, Daniel John Jambun, said that he has conveyed his movement's unqualified support for the Blueprint and in particular the proposed Ministry for Minority Affairs to Hindraf chairman, P. Waythamoorthy, by email from London.

"We want to express our solidarity with and commitment towards other elements of the 3rd Force," said Daniel in a telephone call from Kew Gardens in London, England, in late Nov. "Hindraf in general and Waythamoorthy in particular have demonstrated their sincerity, dedication and commitment towards the struggle of the minorities in the country."

STAR Daniel_John_JambunDaniel is also a Star deputy chairman. Both UBF and Usno (United Sabah National Organisation), another ad hoc movement, are fielding candidates in the forthcoming 13th General Election under the Star symbol. That's a thought that Hindraf is reportedly considering as well in Peninsular Malaysia.

Both Jeffrey and Daniel felt that while the minorities collectively make up 45 per cent of the population in Malaysia, they do not form a "homogenous" block, unlike the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia -- Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and Indian Muslims, among others -- who were bound by a common religion and an adopted language. All the more reason for the Ministry of Minority Affairs, according to Daniel, to have a stake in the Federal Government.

The Borneons think that there’s a case for making a new majority in Parliament composed of the minorities in alliance with secular moderate Muslims. This means no hudud, no Syariah and no Islamisation.

Borneons have suffered like Indians under Umno regime

It's not surprising that the Borneons are on board with Hindraf on the Blueprint. Like the Indian Nation in Malaysia, they too have suffered enormous discrimination over the last half century under the Umno regime.

In the case of the Borneons, they have been deprived of the benefits of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution by virtue of their largely being Christians. In addition, they are fighting for their countries as illegal immigrants continue to flood in and enter the electoral rolls by the back door and go on to win "Instant Native" status.

Sabah and Sarawak, the World Bank confirmed in late 2010 in Kota Kinabalu, were the poorest territories in Malaysia. This is not something that the people bargained for when their leaders were steamrolled by the British and Malayans to drag their newly-independent nations -- Sarawak on 22 July 1963 and Sabah on 31 Aug 1963 -- into Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963.

The Indians, like other non-Malays, were victimized by their legitimate interests not being recognized as pledged by the 2nd Prong of Article 153.

Not even cendol licences for Indians

To add insult to injury, Article 153 was not confined to a reasonable intake in the four specific areas viz. the civil service, institutions of higher learning owned by the government, government scholarships, and opportunities from the government to do business. Umno not only embarked on a clean sweep, sapu bersih, of these four specific areas exclusively for its members but unilaterally extended Article 153 in its deviation and distortion on every aspect of life in Malaysia. As Hindraf Legal Advisor, P. Uthayakumar, has noted, Indians can't get even a simple license from the local authorities to sell cendol from a tricycle by the roadside.

The roots of the crisis confronting the minorities in Malaysia, as highlighted in the Blueprint, are administrative laws -- government policies in action -- inspired by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany which targeted the Jews.

The Jews were increasingly shut out from many areas of the economy and were finally rounded up and sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka in the "Final Solution" devised by the Nazis.

Is it any wonder therefore that Hindraf has raised the issue of "ethnic cleansing" in Malaysia?

The cendol licences aside, a case in point is the fact that the number of non-Malays and non-Muslims in the civil service has dropped to less than 10 per cent at the last count earlier this year. At the time of independence for Malaya in 1957, Indians formed over 60 per cent of Division One civil servants. Today, the number of Indian Division One civil servants can be counted on one's fingers, and there would be fingers to spare.

The bottomline is that the proposed Ministry, as worked out by Hindraf, is being touted as the key to reversing the damage done to the minority communities by various administrative laws under the Mahathir Administration in particular.

Equal Right for All, Rights Not Mercy

Hindraf wants Article 153 scrapped and Equal Rights For All as pledged by the Federal Constitution. Hence, the movement's motto, "Rights, Not Mercy".

The movement has no issues with the Orang Asal, the Orang Ali in Peninsular Malaysia, the Dayak in Sarawak or the Dusun and Murut in Sabah, getting a helping hand from Government but not non-Orang Asal like the Malay-speaking communities jumping on the bandwagon. Hindraf does not see the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia as having any more rights than other non-Orang Asal.

The Borneons agree that the 2nd Prong of Article 153, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, should have been respected and honoured by the Federal Government.

In addition, the Umno Government should not have extended Article 153 to every facet of life in Malaysia, the Borneons concede.

In supporting the Ministry of Minority Affairs, as mooted by Hindraf, the Borneons want several issues close to their struggle to be taken up and resolved.

Return of control of oil and gas to Sabah, Sarawak

For starters, the people of Sabah and Sarawak want control of their oil and gas fields to be returned to them before they run dry within the next 15 years. The demand is based on the advice of the Sabah Law Association that the Petroleum Development Act (PDA), which facilitated the so-called oil agreement, is unconstitutional and therefore the latter is null and void.

The fate of the PDA and the oil agreement naturally raises questions on the basis on which the Federal Government and Petronas, the national oil corporation, lifted oil and gas from fields in Sabah and Sarawak since 1976.

BoPi MaFo has especially been vocal on the issue of compensation, at 8 per cent per annum interest compounded yearly, "for all the oil and gas stolen from Sabah and Sarawak since 1976 by the Federal Government and Petronas".

Overall, the Borneons want the present revenue-sharing formula between Putrajaya, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to be looked at again to reflect the autonomous status of the two Borneo Nations in Malaysia.

The return of autonomy would mean that the Federal Government should confine itself to only defence, foreign affairs and national economic planning as far as Sabah and Sarawak are concerned.

Autonomy would be meaningless unless the Federation of Malaya stops masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia and the written Constitution of Malaya is no longer passed off as the written Constitution of Malaysia. Malaysia, Sabahans and Sarah pledge, has a unwritten Constitution based on the Batu Sumpah of Keningau, among other constitutional documents including the written Constitution of Malaya.

Then there's the issue of Putrajaya ruling Sabah and Sarawak through local proxies abetted by their stooges. The NGO's backing the local opposition want "the traitors, those who betrayed our people for 30 pieces of silver" to be brought to account for their crime of preventing the rise of legitimate government in the Borneo Nations in Malaysia.

Hindraf has had a longstanding policy of supporting the struggle of the people of Sabah and Sarawak for their place in the sun and has even offered to help them regaining their self-determination of 31 Aug 1963 and 22 July 1963 respectively.

In return, the Borneons are pledged to supporting Hindraf, the Indian community and other 3rd Force elements in Peninsular Malaysia. The emergence of a 3rd Force in Parliament, steering evenly between the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat, feel Jeffrey and Daniel, will be the nucleus for the creation of a new majority in Parliament i.e. one composed of the minorities in alliance with secular moderate Muslims.

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