Press Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday 9th July 1990:
Espousal of the legitimate constitutional rights and status of Sabahans should not be regarded as anti-Federal
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, yesterday warned political parties in Sabah that they were ‘playing with fire’ by raising anti-Federal feelings in their manifestos.
This statement by the Prime Minister is most uncalled for and cannot contribute towards that closer integration of the people of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
Barisan Nasional leaders in Peninsular Malaysia must not equate the espousal of the legitimate constitutional rights and status of Sabahans as anti-Federal. As far as I am aware, there is no single political party contesting in the Sabah general elections which is anti-Malaysia, or advocating either secession or rejection of the constitutional process of political change.
Dr. Mahathir’s warning, coming close in the heel of a statement by UMNO Youth that to call for the return of Labuan to Sabah is like asking for the secession from Malaysia, is ill-advised and shows insensitivity to the long-standing unhappiness of the people of Sabah about the treatment meted out to them in the Malaysian scheme of things.
What Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional Federal Government should give serious thought is why 27 years after joining Malaysia, Sabah political parties are united in feeling that the Sabahans should be given fairer and more equal deal – to the extent that the ruling PBS State Government should include the 20-Point Agreement in its manifesto?
What is needed on the part of the Barisan Nasional Federal Government is not warnings by the Prime Minister about ‘playing with fire’, but sensitivity and understanding by the Prime Minister about these long-standing unhappiness by the Sabahans, and the preparedness to give a full hearing to these grievances.