KOTA KINABALU: A longtime Borneo rights activist has called for the “demotion” of the Sabah Governor to TYT Yang di- Pertua Negeri – head of state – on Aug 27, 1976, to be reversed.
Jeffrey Kitingan wants the governor’s previous position i.e. TYT Yang di-Pertua Negara – head of nation – restored.
The Bingkor assemblyman made the call in an op-ed piece carried by the Borneo Today website.
He was commenting on the governor’s official birthday which was observed on Saturday, Oct 1, as in recent years, a departure from previous years when it was celebrated on Sept 16. The Federal Government has since recognised September 16 as Malaysia Day.
“I intend to re-table a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Constitution of Sabah to restore the status of the governor to Yang di-Pertua Negara,” said Jeffrey who is also Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) President and founder of the three-party United Sabah Alliance (USA).
“It was rejected by the previous Speaker. He should be feeling remorseful for his unpatriotic act in rejecting the bill.”
If the opposition state representatives were sincere, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) members patriotic, and they wished to see Sabah as forming Malaysia in an equal partnership with Sarawak and Malaya, he said, “we should see unanimous support for the amendment to the Constitution of Sabah”.
At the same time, said Jeffrey, opposition MPs from Sabah could table a similar bill in Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution to refer to the Sabah Governor as Yang di-Pertua Negara, as the position was known from Sept 16, 1963, until Aug 27, 1976.
If so, he said, come Oct 1, 2017, all Sabahans would have a truly joyous birthday celebration for their governor, restored as TYT Yang di-Pertua Negara.
“Whilst Sabahans rejoiced in the birthday celebration this year, there was still a tinge of sadness,” said Jeffrey.
“Our beloved governor was demoted,” he wrote.
The first three governors after independence were known as TYT Yang di-Pertua Negara until 1976, when the Harris Salleh-led Berjaya Government amended the Sabah Constitution. A corresponding amendment was also made to the Federal Constitution.
“Only God and the Federal and Sabah leaders in 1976 know the real reason,” added Jeffrey. “The status of our beloved governor was downgraded.”
He recalled that it coincided with the downgrading of Sabah and Sarawak to be the 12th and 13th States in Malaya. “The Federation of Malaya has been masquerading since then as the Federation of Malaysia,” charged Jeffrey.
On a happier note, he summed up, the official birthday celebration was now on a separate day and not on Sept 16, the formation of Malaysia.
Sept 16 was disguised as the official birthday of the governor, he said, “but in fact it was to celebrate Malaysia Day which was then not allowed by the Federal Government”.