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Does Perikatan Nasional not intend to honour the three sworn Batu Sumpah promises made to Sabahans?

Joint media statement by Jannie Lasimbang, Peter Saili, Noorita Sual, Adrian Banie Lasimbang, Clare Taunek Simbat, and Grelydia Gillod of Sabah DAP

We, the undersigned, would like to sternly remind the Malaysian Federal Government, currently held by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, to uphold the three sworn promises of the Batu Sumpah (Oath Stone) made between the Federation of Malaysia and the people of interior Sabah led by two G. S. Sundang and his elder brother OKK Sodomon Bin Gunsanad, back in the 1960s.

The three sworn promises are namely – absolute freedom of religion in Sabah, land matters in Sabah to be the absolute jurisdiction of the Sabah government, and that the federal government will undertake to preserve the customs and traditions of the people of Sabah. In return, the people of the interior districts of Sabah will swear their allegiance towards the Federation of Malaysia.

The Batu Bersumpah had been officiated by the then Malaysian Federal Minister of Labour, V Manickavasagam on the 31st August 1964. The monument, and its contents, still stands till today.

Recent developments have led to many questioning whether the Malaysian federal government has the genuine intention to uphold these sworn promises, without which, the people of interior Sabah would have objected to the joining of the Federation of Malaysia together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore back in the 1960s.

Just a few days ago, a member of parliament in the Malaysian Parliament, Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh of the Pan-Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS), representing Pasir Puteh, Kelantan, remarked in parliament under parliamentary immunity that the Christian Bible had been distorted (dipesong), and has even went further by saying that Christians had no right to be offended after he had been asked to apologize and retract his remarks. We wish to state that we are deeply upset and slighted by such a bigoted attitude shown by this Yang Berhormat.

The Malaysian Parliament, being one of the three branches of the federal government besides the judiciary and executive, should have made its stance clear in upholding religious freedom by censuring the Member of Parliament for Pasir Puteh and referring him to the Committee of Privileges.

We state that even if there are parts in the Muslims’ and Christians’ holy text which may contrast with each other, no one should impose their view of which is right or wrong towards the other as it would amount to a fundamental breach of religious freedom as promised under the Batu Bersumpah here in Keningau. This religious freedom goes back to the very core values of the founding of this nation, especially to the people here in the interior region of Sabah.

In this regard, caretaker Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, despite being a Muslim himself, is an inclusive leader who understand the importance of meeting the needs of all Sabahans regardless of race and religion. Instead of the divide and rule tactic employed by the PN federal government, Shafie had brought everyone together when he had approved two days of public holiday for Christmas in Sabah.

The current Member of Parliament for Keningau, Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, together with his party STAR, is currently part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government and he has been conspicuously silent about the matter insulting the Christian bible. We call upon him to make his stand clear.

Besides religious freedom, another matter which goes to the heart of the people here in interior Sabah is land matters. As inscribed clearly on the Batu Bersumpah, land matter is exclusive to the Sabah government.

Here, the Sabah government under Warisan has decided to abolish communal titles or geran komunial, and in exchange, issue individual titles to the natives who had been living and working on their respective lands. It is a recognition of an existing right, not the creation of something new. Therefore, it is wrong for the opposition to have claimed that it is something that can be ‘given’ out like a handout.

Finally, in return for the people of Sabah pledging their allegiance towards the Malaysian Federal government, the latter ought to uphold Sabah’s sovereignty from any external claims, including by the Philippines. We find it very unbecoming for the Philippines to have continued to claim Sabah as if the people of Sabah is a commodity that can be traded at will.

We are glad that the Federal Parliament of Malaysia, led by Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong, had on 27 August officially approved a parliamentary motion condemning the action taken by the Philippines House of Representative in their approval of a measure requiring the printing of Sabah on their citizen’s passport, which is a baseless and senseless act of provocation.

We hope that the Federal Government of Malaysia, pursuant to the sworn allegiance on the Batu Bersumpah, will similarly take stern actions against the Philippines and demand that they cease their provocative actions in treating Sabah as theirs when we, the people of Sabah, do not, have never, and will have never agreed with the same.

Jannie Lasimbang
DAP National Central Executive Committee Member
DAP Wanita Sabah Chief
DAP Sabah Natives Consultative Council Chairperson

Peter Saili
DAP Sabah Vice-Chairperson
DAP Keningau Chairperson

Noorita Sual
Member of Parliament for Tenom
DAP Sabah Vice-Chairperson
DAP Kemabong branch Chairperson

Adrian Banie Lasimbang
Senator, Dewan Negara
DAP Sabah Political Education Director

Clare Taunek Simbat
DAP Wanita Pensiangan Chief
DAP Sabah Committee Member

Grelydia Gillod
DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Keningau Chief
DAP Sabah Committee Member

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