Politician questions rationale in Sarawak joining Malaya

Salleh Jafaruddin

Actor, comedian and TV presenter Rashid Salleh has stirred a hornet’s nest with his series of intimate discussions with his father, former Sarawak politician Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin.

The second of a seven-part series released today questioned the rationale in Sarawak joining Malaya in 1963 to form Malaysia.

“There was no good reason to join Malaya,” said Salleh in the interviews, which are excerpts from his yet-to-be-published book titled ‘Pricking Conscience’.

“Most of the leaders at that time were uneducated. Only Tunku Abdul Rahman stood out.

“(Stephen Kalong) Ningkan who was a former medical officer, formed his own party – not by choice but by luck – and won the election to become chief minister.

“He was pressured to join Malaya by those from Kuala Lumpur.”

Salleh said Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie, Tun Ghafar Baba and Tun Ismail Abdul Rahman “promised the earth and the sky”.

Ningkan was supported by Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee, father of current Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari in accepting the idea.

Salleh said Brunei almost accepted the offer but had the foresight to see it wouldn’t benefit them and that is why they opted out.

He also explained there was plenty of pressure from Indonesia which was worried Sarawak and Sabah – which share a border with Kalimantan – would be joining Malaya.

“The communist party was strong in Indonesia and it managed to entice many young Sarawakian Chinese to take up arms,” he explained.

“We had to work hard to overcome the propaganda.

“Tunku Abdul Rahman and Indonesia’s Abdul Malik had a dialogue in Bangkok in 1966 which ended the two nations’ ‘confrontation’. Things cooled down after that.”

Although part of Malaysia for nearly 55 years, many Sarawakians are still unhappy with what they see as the pilfering of timber and oil from the state.

Recently, Sarawak has been pushing for an increase in oil royalty to 10 per cent, seeking the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agree­ment 1963.

The current deal is five per cent cash payment in lieu of royalty based on gross production.