The 20 points – facts or fictions

There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding and confusion over the call to restore the 20 points in Sabah.

It is obvious from the number of postings in the social network that Sabahans are either ignorant of the issue or they are just too lazy to find out what the 20 points are really all about.  In short, they are barking at the wrong tree.  If the 20 points is the fact that will resolve the position of Sabah’s maligned status in Malaysia then why are we still confuse.  We have been in this position ever since 1963 but it has been more obvious from 1987.

We Demand the 20 points …. you know the 20 points?

I believe the 20 points is a red herring, a diversion clearly chosen and spread amongst ignorant Sabahans.  They want the Sabahans to be engrossed in the 20 points with which has NO LOCUS STANDI.  In essence, a diversion created to feed on the nationalistic fever that is spreading throughout Sabah specifically amongst the KDM community.  Because of the rise of this nationalistic fever, the powers-that-be, has used the systematic imports of “immigrants” to dilute these dissent and to restrain any future attempts by the “locals” to demand that their rights be returned.  It has been suggested that because of their ego and greed the leaders of the KDM’s have been conditioned by their puppet masters to continue provoking their own community short of calling for a civil disobedience.  How well they have played their part in serving their masters.

Coincidence as it may seem, as the 20 points has no legal standing, the only way for the authorities to find fault “legally” with anyone screaming and shouting the 20 points is to use the Internal Security Act (ISA).  That is the irony of the ISA.

Anyway, allow me to quote former Malaysia Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Haniff Omar who said in a press conference on 14th March 1991:

“There has been a lot of nonsense in some accusation, like the “twenty points” [sic] agreement …. I have dug out records of the Cobbold Commission reports, Malaysia Solidarity Commission [sic] reports, Inter-Governmental Commission [sic] reports, the Malaysia Agreement and even the Malaysian Constitution [reports] just to understand the whole issue surrounding the Federation.  I discovered that there were many misleading things in the [twenty points] memorandum but the fact is that if the intention was good, it could be thoroughly researched and better explained ….”

This represents the general perception of the people in Malaya; they cannot find the “20 points” in any of the original documents in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.  The fact that Tan Sri Haniff Omar is willing to dig-up and read the old records means he took these matters seriously.  He wants solution and he wants closure.  He was partly correct because there are no such things as the “20 points” in the original documents of the Cobbold Commission Reports (those who care about Sabah please read here, I am putting up a copy of the original Cobbold Commission Report for public knowledge).

The door to dialog was never closed and Tan Sri Haniff did say, “…if the intention was good, it could be thoroughly researched and better explained”.  This however was never done despite have a think tank such as the Institute for Development Studies.  Instead, PBS which was in power then politicized the “20 points” and went on to mobilize the people.  They should instead focus on issues in the formation of Malaysia, which could be used to gain better traction in Federal-State relationship and for the well-being of the people in Sabah and its future generation.  The PBS leaders at that time were too spontaneous and reactive in their actions.

What PBS has done may have jeopardized the chances to negotiate for a better deal for Sabah’s future.  The main concern for the majority of Sabahans in pre & post Malaysia has always been economics; it was never politics back then.  Sabah’s electoral experience was only in its infancy.  To make use of the “20 points” for political gain in the 80’s was a wrong move and with that we have to live with the consequences today.

There are however, concerns and safeguards that was raised to the Cobbold Commission which at the end of the report the commission had extend to the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) to delved deeper and reconcile it with the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya.  The constitution of Malaya was agreed upon to use as the base for the Malaysian Constitution.  In its formative years in the Federation, Sabah’s “rights” was slowly diluted.  So in order to understand better what transpired then it is important to read both these reports so we can understand where we went wrong initially.

Nonetheless, the emphasis of the IGC is on the separation of power between the Borneo States and the Federal Government – this is the crux of the dissatisfaction between the people of Sabah with the Federal government!!

As the result of the IGC, the Malaysian Constitution was constructed.  The Malaysia Agreement 1963 bind all parties concerned to create the Malaysia Federation.  This agreement was signed by the representatives of, the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya, the newly independent countries of Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore.  The people who created the Malaysia Agreement 1963 may not have the foresight to peer deeply into the future and as an additional safeguard; they created Article 8 in the Malaysia Agreement, which stipulates:

Article VIII

The Government of the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak will take such legislative, executive or other action as may be required to implement the assurances, undertakings and recommendations contained in Chapter 3 of, and Annex A and B to the report of the Inter-Governmental Committee signed on 27th February 1963, in so far as they are not implemented by express provision of the Constitution of Malaysia.”

This simply means that an entity must be created in whose members are made up of representative from the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak to ensure none of the parties in the Federation can take advantage of the other.  The entity IF created is the Compliance Mechanism.  It is suppose to resolve any issues, which, may put at a disadvantage any of the parties who form the Malaysia Federation.  This is what Sabah MUST demand, for the creation of the Compliance Mechanism.  This is the best hope for us to stop the slide in our ever-depleting rights.

The call for restoring the 20 points to my mind is just pure fiction because how can we restore something, which does not exist in the first place.  How long have the 20 points been played into the playing field only to be kicked out time and again, the people penalized and our rights diluted.  However, if we whisper the creation of the Compliance Mechanism they will have to listen because it is IN the Malaysia Agreement 1963 in the form of Article VIII.

Sabah Sifu


6 Responses to The 20 points – facts or fictions

  1. Borneo Wiki says:


    Just some quick off the cuff comments on the purpose of the 20 Points with surrounding developments.

    Regarding the 20 Points maybe we need to travel back 51 years when they released the Cobbold Report in August 1962. (Need to refer to the declassified docs.).

    The Cobbold Commission was not an independent body as it was made up of British and Malayan officials.

    There was a GIANT conflict of interest as they proposed the Malaysia idea and went to ask the people if they liked it. They didn’t like it and demanded independence first and later this demand was side-tracked to a demand for a referendum. But none was done.

    The purpose of the Cobbold Commission was to avoid the referendum.

    The Report made the guesstimate that 1/3 of those “interviewed” supported the Malaysia idea, 1/3 unsure but would support if there were safeguards, 1/3 defintely opposed.

    You can see that this was a set up. Over 4,000 people were allegedly interviewed in Sabah and Sarawak.

    Was it 50/50 in each country?

    Try to imagine how was the interview conducted? Was there a standard questionaire or what?. Did the Commission go door knocking?

    It was all mysterious…However, this is another investigation to be done unless you have the info on this to share.

    Also mind you Sarawak alone had over 30 different language groups and sub-groups. How do you make an honest assessment? Hope you get the drift.

    Go forward to maybe May or June 1963 when they were drafting the MA63. Since only 1/3 “supported M’sia” it would not look very good to push the idea. So the 1/3 “undecided” polled, became 2/3 majority when the Brits said they would provide the 20 Points safeguards.

    May be slightly out with the dates, but do you see how it happened that 2/3 people supported Malaysia?

    They simply said “we will provide safeguards” but they did not go back to the people and asked again. Some one then “doodled” up 20 Points which had been raised in a number of submissions to the Cobbold Commission. The declassificed colonial docs have these.

    However, the Philippines and Indonesian governments had objected the Report and specified that there must be a referendum in the Manila Accord with Malaya. That was on 31 July 1963. The MA63 was signed on 9th July 1963 without any referendum. Where was the mandate to do this?

    They only got it ratified by some bogus Council Negri later on…But for such an important political event was that the right and proper thing to do. Many things were done and then legalised by ratification without proper representation.

    1. The MA63 described North Borneo and Sarawak as colonies in the preamble.

    So they were not independent and free countries on 9th July 1963. Then for reason of covering their backs the Brits ostensibly gave Sarawak independence on 22 July and Sabah on 31 Aug.

    The question is could the “colonies” make an international treaty? Would it be valid?

    2. By whose authority was Malaya acting under to negotiate N. Borneo and Sarawak’s future in Manila?

    3. Why was Malaya a foreign country interfering with Borneo de-colonization? And colludiing with Britain as far back as 1959 to transfer SS sovereignty to Malaya (colonial docs.)

    The UN Decolonizaiton Declaration said all countries are entitled to the inalienable right of self-determination free from foreign interference.

    4. Since there was no referendum how could the so-called 2/3 support be read as 2/3 popular support for Malaysia? How is it mathematically possible to extrapolate that figure make it a solid 2/3 majority support? Is this how statistics are compiled and interpreted? It was and is weird.

    It was shonky!

    5. The Manila Accord forced Britain and Malaya to change the Malaysia formation date to 16 Sept. so an assessment could be done. Indonesian had meant a “referendum” as they said later. The Philippines stipulated subject to resolution of its claim.

    But what did they do? They rigged up a UN “assessment team” led by a British official- isn’t that a conflict of interests?

    So this UN Team assessed in an amazing 10 days that the people in 2 far flung areas supported Malaysia. An amazing feat!

    6. It should have been both SS becoming independent before the act.

    But “Malaysia” was decided before independence and there was not real independence.

    Again the docs make it clear that Britain agreed with Malaya that there would be no independence for the colonies but direct transfer to Malaya. Tunku was obssessed with the idea.

    However, Britain saw a problem with this approach and later cooked up some instant “independence” to avoid looking bad in breaching the UN Resolution 1514 XV

    BTW Sifu did you read the colonial docs to confirm your comments? Certainly everything was done in a hurry to meet their 31 August dateline. Everything from 1960 was pre-determined as opponents were saying even in the 1960s.

    The reason for the hurry as disclosed in the docs was

    (1) Tunku loved the idea of having a happy 31 Aug independence day for everyone. But this was thrown off course by the Manila Accord.

    (2) They hastily formed M’sia to sideline Philippines claim to be made in the UN later that year.

    Manila and Jarkarta broke of relations with Malaya when Msia was announced on 16 Sept. 1963 because UMNO leaders cheated on their promises. Konfrontasi started in 1964…Sukarno was plainly annoyed by the lying Malayans. They have not stopped this bad habit since and stealing other people’s wealth too. It also gives the background to the Sulu invasion and renewed Sabah Claim.

    • sifusiber says:

      It was no so much the Manila Accord, it was because Azahari was to present the Borneo Federation idea to the United Nation. This scares both Tunku and the British. The Brunei Rebellion was then “Born” which eventually led to the Indonesian Confrontation.

      • Borneo Wiki says:

        The Brunei Uprising was on on Dec 8 1962 and the Manila Accord 31 July 1963. It was the Philippines that was taking their claim to the UN.

        The colonial docs said thehasty incorporation of M’sia on 16 Sept was to sideline this move.

        Go to 916 Occupation Day where this documents is posted. Cannot post here.

        But it was a discussion which made 2 killing points:

        1. Independence before incorporation (Sarawak on 22 Juky & Sabah on 31 Aug 1963) was done to avoid accusation the 2 colonies were “coerced” into Malaysia.

        2. The above was an argument that the 2 newly independent state had chosen to form Malaysia -hence defeating the Philipines claim.

        Hope that clarifies.

        If you have read Lina Soo’s book- it sets out the sequence and the main docs. as proof of the above predetermined agenda. They had a “time-line” and they followed it.

        No wonder The British called Malaysia one of their most successful projects despite the Brunei Uprising, Konfrontasi and the Sarawak guerrilla war. But it took till 1990 to pacify Sarawak and made it safe for Malaya.

        • Borneo Wiki says:

          BTW The Azahari Northern Borneo Federation or “North Kalimantan” was supported by SUPP and the Sabah Kadazan people and others.

          However, the plan to go to the UN to present the argument for independecne became subverted by the British who got on the the weakest partner- Sabah.

          It was the use of the communist bogeyman and Indonesian invasinn scare that got Sabah leaders to weaken and not opposed Malaysia.

          The Sulu invasion and ESSCOM is just a recycling of the same scare campaign used to justify Malaysia formation.

          Both BPP and SUPP had very determined people fighting for independence. By late 1963 SUPP was begining to crumble under the massive British suppression with detention of up to 10,000 supporters as alleged “communists”. Many were brutalised and jailed for long periods.

          The Indonesia opposition also led to the British/US plot to overthrow the Sukarno gov’t under the pretext of the Sept. 30 Coup.

          This shows how important it was for the British to imposed their Malaysia idea.

          This link dicusses the horror of the massacre unleashed by the British balck operation which spread rumours that the PKI and “Chinese” were responsible for the coup and starting a blood letting which claim up to 3 million lives according to an Indonesian army officer:

          This link will have a bibliograhpy & links if desired to read further.

          • now i understand why is the late president sukarno wants to liberate sabah in 60’s confrontation. It was meant to save us all…….

        • sifusiber says:

          Borneo Wiki,
          It was not the Kadazan people. It was the Muruts from the Interior.

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