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'The Queen’s Obligation’, a perspective surrounding the events leading to the formation of Malaysia, written by DEV graduate

KOTA KINABALU: Calls for secession, arguments and confusion among the people in the state and nation tied to issues such as Sabah’s rights and the birth of Malaysia could be obliterated with factual reinforcement as clearly inked in the Malaysia Agreement and Inter-Governmental Committee Report.

Author and UEA International Development graduate Zainnal Ajamain’s 15 years of research, which largely included facts from the two documents, culminated into a book called ‘The Queen’s Obligation’, a perspective surrounding the events leading to the formation of Malaysia. It involved a depiction on the role of British officials acting as North Borneo and Sarawak guardians who helped the then leaders construct the safeguards for Sabah.

“Some may argue that it was the 20 points memorandum that provided the safeguards for the Borneo states. However, apart from four pieces of papers signed by local political parties in North Borneo at that time, there were no other documentations which may substantiate this claim,” said Zainnal in a review of the book.

“Those who read and analysed the 20 points memorandum closely will find that it contains no protection for Sabah, and some points were headlines plagiarized from the Cobbold Commission report. The 20 points memorandum was never considered in the ‘great compromise’ which was the Inter-Government Committee’s working parties and plenary sessions.

“The 20 points memorandum was at best a side note in the overall scheme of things – it was of no significance to the formation of Malaysia. Why then would some segments of our society still want to harp on irrelevant issues such as the 20 points? If we really care about Sabah rights then we should make an effort to examine and analyse the 20 points instead of just parroting what other people are saying. The reality is that the 20 points may do more harm to Sabah than establishing its rights,” revealed Zainnal who traced back the origins of the 20 points to the Cobbold Report.

The date August 31 has just passed and September 16 is just around the corner. During this month, a lot of discussions in the alternative media, newspapers and coffee shops were about the formation of Malaysia, whether the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is valid or not, is Sabah a country or a state, did Sabah achieve independence or merely become one of the 12 and 13 states in Malaysia, issues of secessions, and the more recent issues of constitutional claims which were stopped for no reason since 1973. These are questions and arguments which a reader may find their answers in this book, he said.

“We are all Malaysian, right? But how many of us Malaysians have really read the Malaysia Agreement. We always want to talk about the social contract. What is the social contract? It is not an agreement, but only an understanding between political parties in Malaya only,” said Zainnal at a handing over ceremony of his book to the Sabah State Library here yesterday.

“How can we be Malaysian, if we don’t even respect the Malaysia Agreement? We can never be Malaysia. This is the right time. This is the period of awakening for Sabah, awakening of Sarawak, to our proper rights, and we are not talking about understanding. We are not talking about agreement by political parties to sub-divide the country for their respective political parties.

“For over 50 years, nothing happened because we didn’t read, we didn’t analyze. After 52 years, now we are coming up with books. So we have got to tell the world. This is what we are. We are not just pushovers,” he affirmed.

According to Zainnal, the ‘no secession from the Federation’ issue is raised in the book and many issues arising in it could be used as reference for in-depth research. The book could also be used as the basis for constitutional changes but importantly, unless something is done to the national curriculum, this historical chapter in the formation of Malaysia could be lost.

“You know we understand the formation of Malaysia… the 20 points from what we have heard in the newspaper but this is actually a research done by Zainnal where you are looking at documents from London, the foreign office, and then brought together in a book form,” said Sabah State Library director Wong Vui Yin at the ceremony.

“As a Malaysian, as a Sabahan, to me this is so important. No matter what it is we have to know the facts. This is the facts given to us in a simplified form. You don’t have to search for this and the documentation. Everything is within this book. So I hope the relevant authorities when they read this book, they will probably rewrite history that our children have been learning to incorporate something like this into the mainstream history lessons, so that they will understand the gist of the formation of Malaysia and not read from here, read from there, from the internet, from you know all non-factual sources, but this is (factual). So that is why to me it is so, so important for this book to be out. We have a lot of history books but not something as revealing as this,” he added.

The director will ensure the eventual availability of ‘The Queen’s Obligation’ at the Sabah State Library’s 112 main branches as well as mobile and village libraries throughout the state.

The three initial copies received yesterday, would be kept for conservation and reference in Kota Kinabalu and Keningau. The state library would need a week’s grace period before the reference copies can be accessed by the public, said Wong.

Around 2,000 copies of the Queen’s Obligation have been printed thus far. Zainnal Ajamain holds a MA in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia. He started his career in the State Civil Service as the state operation officer, responsible for monitoring the implementation of development projects and programs in Sabah.

His tenure in the State civil service gives him the opportunity to work as the secretary in the Labuan Municipal Council and as senior research associate in the Institute for Development Studies Sabah, the state’s think tank. He worked as the head of local government division in the Labuan Development Authority (LDA) before leaving the state civil service.

In the private sector, Zainnal had the opportunity to be a lecturer at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Sabah campus and as lead economist to the research division of Innosabah Securities Berhad, an equity stock broking house in Kota Kinabalu.

His foray into the private sector and financial world provides him the opportunity to establish Innosabah securities offices in Zurich, Switzerland and the creation and launching of an offshore Islamic Fund from Labuan together with Dar Al Maal Al Islami (DM), a Trust for Faisal Finance of Saudi Arabia operating from Geneva.

He writes extensively on development issues, specifically pertaining to Sabah within the national development mainstream and publishes articles in both the local media as well as several international journals. He co-authored the Halatuju Pembangunan dan Kemajuan Negeri Sabah that forms the base for the present Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

Zainnal was the executive assistant to the executive chairman of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd. He also holds a position as a Principal Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System, University Malaysia Sabah.

Currently he is on his own. A passionate activist promoting the history on the formation of Malaysia, Sabah rights in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report, Sabah Oil and Gas Rights, development of BIMP-EAGA and abolishing the long standing National Cabotage Policy.

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