Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Sabah state general elections ceramah held in Tawau on Thursday, 12th July 1990 at 8 p.m.
Call on PBS President, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, to pledge that the new PBS Government would conduct a referendum after the Sabah state general elections for the Sabahans to decide whether Labuan should be returned to Sabah
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, warned on Sunday that political parties in Sabah 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 closer integration of the people of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
When I met Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed at the Prime Minister’s office on Monday to discuss the invitation of a Commonwealth Observer Mission to Malaysia for the next general elections, I also asked the Prime Minister why he issued such a warning.
I told Dr. Mahathir that the people of Sabah had legitimate grounds for feeling that they had been discriminated against and were not getting the constitutional rights and status due to them, to the extent that the PBS State Government had to resurrect the 20-Point Agreement on the terms and conditions for Sabah’s entry into Malaysia 27 years ago.
I advised Dr. Mahathir that all the political parties in Sabah had pledged to uphold the constitutional process and to bring about changes through the process of parliamentary democracy, and that it was most unfair as well as divisive to regard any espousal of the legitimate constitutional rights of the people of Sabah as ‘anti-Federal’ and ‘anti-Malaysia’.
Labuan gifted to Federal Government by arbitrary and high-handed action of one person
I also raised the issue of Labuan with the Prime Minister. I said that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government should respect the strong feelings of the people of Sabah that Labuan had been undemocratically excised from Sabah.
Dr. Mahathir’s view was that Labuan was gifted to the Federal Government by the Sabah State Assembly and that the establishment of the Federal Territory in Labuan was legal.
I countered that this was the work of basically one person, who had ruled Sabah then in dictatorial fashion, and that although the creation of Labuan as Federal Territory was legal and constitutional, it was not legitimate, as it was done in a most high-handed, arbitrary and undemocratic manner, in utter disregard of the wishes of the people of Sabah.
I stressed that there must be room for the people of Sabah, within the constitutional and parliamentary democratic process, to demand for constitutional readjustments to take into account their legitimate grievances and aspirations, without being accused of being anti-Federal or anti-Malaysia.
Last Friday, I asked the Sabah Chief minister ten questions on the PBS stand on Labuan. Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan had not been able to answer these ten questions.
However, if Pairin is sincere and genuine about demanding for the return of Labuan to Sabah without conditions, as stated in the PBS manifesto, the DAP will back Pairin and the PBS State Government on this issue all the way.
The DAP deplores the insensitive and completely unwarranted reactions of UMNO Youth leaders who equated the demand for the return of Labuan to Sabah as demanding for the secession of Sabah from Malaysia. Malaysia’s greatest political liability is the existence of such short-sighted, ignorant and extremist politicians.
The political demand for the return of Labuan to Sabah is lawful, democratic and fully Constitutional so long as it is made within the framework of the Constitutional and the process of parliamentary democracy.
DAP calls on the PBS President, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, to give a pledge that after the Sabah state general elections, the PBS Government would hold a referendum in the state to allow the people of Sabah to decide whether Labuan should be returned to Sabah.
Let the people of Sabah make their voice heard loud and clear whether they wanted Labuan back. If the people of Labuan are overwhelmingly in support of the return of Labuan to Sabah, then the Barisan Nasional Federal Government should respect the views of the Sabahans and return Labuan to Sabah without any ado!