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Keynote Speech  by  Lim Kit Siang when launching the  DAP Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) Declaration at a DAP KDM convention at Ruby Hotel, Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, 19th January 2008:

DAP KDM Declaration a stirring call for justice for the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community  to ensure that 44 years after the 20-Point Agreement on Sabah’s formation of Malaysia, the largest community in the state  does not end up at the bottom of the heap as to become “outsiders” in their own land

The launching of the DAP KDM (Kadazan-Dusun-Murut) Declaration at the DAP KDM convention today is a historic moment in the political history of Sabah and Malaysia as it represents a stirring call for justice for the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community  to ensure that 44 years after the 20-Point Agreement on Sabah’s formation of Malaysia, the largest community in the state  does not end up at the bottom of the heap as to become “outsiders” in their own land!

I am very impressed by the seriousness, fervour and sense of mission of the DAP KDM leaders who took the initiative to formulate this historic KDM Declaration, as is evident by the commitment and sense of mission demonstrated  by the five presenters at the convention on the plight and promises facing the KDM community  and which formed the basis of the  DAP KDM Declaration, viz:

  1. The Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) Crisis - Pastor Jeffrey Kumin (DAP Karambunai branch chairman)
  1. Squatter colonies of illegal immigrants and Sabah land problems - Steven Jimbangan (DAP Kepayan branch chairman)
  2. Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) Unity -  Paul Kadau (DAP Interior leader)
  1. Poverty and Education in Sabah  - Justin Sabran (DAP Kuamut branch chairman)
  1. Impact of illegal immigrant presence  to Kadzan-Dusun-Muruts (KDM) -  Edward Mujie (DAP Tamparuli branch chairman)

The DAP KDM Declaration in a most dramatic and eloquent manner highlights the grave  problem of the  political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization of the KDM community when it posed the question, “Can a KDM ever become a Sabah Chief Minister again?” 

This is a question which every KDM, nay every Sabahan and  every  Malaysian, should ask as its brings to the forefront the grave problem of the marginalization of the KDM community as to become the new underclass in Sabah and Malaysia.

In the first three decades of Sabah’s nationhood in Malaysia from 1963-1993, anyone posing the question “Can a KDM ever become a Sabah Chief Minister’, would be regarded  askance as someone who is not only  politically uninformed but with questionable intellectual capabilities. 

Today, it is those who think such a question utterly irrelevant who will be regarded as politically uninformed or even intellectually handicapped! 

What is the reason for such a sea-change in the Sabah political landscape in a matter of 15 years when what was once held  as virtually as a birthright is regarded by many as “lost for good” as to be irrecoverable? 

When Sabah helped form Malaysia in 1963, the first Sabah Chief Minister was a KDM – Donald Stephens/Tun Fuad Stephens, who held the post for a year, returning briefly as Sabah Chief Minister for 44 days until the tragic “666” helicopter crash on June 6, 1976 which wiped out the multi-ethnic Sabah leadership of Fuad Stephens, Peter Mojuntin, Chong Tian Vun and Salleh Sulong, and forever changed the course of Sabah history. 

The next KDM Sabah Chief Minister is Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan who held the post for nine years from 1985 to 1994. 

This works out to a KDM being Sabah Chief Minister for less than 11 years  in the 44-year history of Sabah in Malaysia, i.e. less than 25% - which is clearly a poor reflection of the proper place that should be occupied by the KDM community in Sabah politics as it was the largest ethnic community in 1963. 

In the 1994 Sabah state general election, Barisan Nasional promised a “Sabah Baru” to the people of Sabah, including equal political partnership and power-sharing in the state with the rotation of post of Chief Minister among the three major communities under a Barisan Nasional state government. 

What is the record of this “equal political partnership and power-sharing” in the past 14 years of Barisan Nasional rule in Sabah? 

In the past 14 years of Barisan Nasional rule, the post of Sabah Chief Minister was held by bumiputras for 10 years or 71% of the period and non-bumiputras (Chinese) for four years or 28%.  If the bumiputra Chief Ministership for the period is further examined, it will break down to nine years or 65% of the 14-year BN rule  for Muslim bumiputras and nine months  or six per cent for non-Muslim bumiputras (Tan Sri Bernard Dompok).

If anyone should challenge or doubt the statement that the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community have been marginalized and  become a new underclass, the history of the Sabah Chief Ministership whether of the past 14 years under Barisan Nasional rule or of the past 44 years in the history of Sabah in Malaysia would be an irrebuttable response. 

The  grave problem of the KDM marginalization in Sabah after nearly half-a-century of nationhood in Malaysia can  be illustrated by a catalogue of grim statistics. Suffice here for me to refer to two such grim statistics, viz: 

  • Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, Sabah has the worst poverty incidence of all states in Malaysia, higher than Kelantan and Terengganu, with hard-core poverty incidence at 6.5% as compared to Terengganu 4.4% and Kedah and Kelantan 1.3%.  Among the poor and hard-core poor, the KDM occupy the bottom of the heap.
  • In 1963, Sabah’s population was 454,421. This has jumped more than seven-fold to 3.2 million  in 2005 primarily because of the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants who have become citizens and voters through false identity cards – to the extent that it is believed that foreigners have outnumbered local Sabahans in the state. No wonder the KDM regard themselves as having become strangers in the land of their ancestors.

The DAP KDM Declaration a stirring call for justice for the KDM community  to ensure that 44 years after the 20-Point Agreement on Sabah’s formation of   Malaysia, the largest community in the state  does not end up at the bottom of the heap as to become “outsiders” in their own land. 

Sabahans and Malaysians must be reminded of the fundamental principles on which Malaysia was founded – the 1957 Merdeka “social contract”  when Malaya achieved independence and the 20 Points Agreement when Sabah, together with Sarawak and Singapore, joined Malaya to form the new Federation of Malaysia in 1963. 

Many who talk about the 20 Points do not know what they contain. Let us harken back to the 20 Points, starting with the first of the 20 Points, viz:

Point 1: Religion

While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo. 

If Point One  of the Twenty-Points had been strictly and scrupulously observed, Sabahan and Malaysians would have been spared the many divisive issues which had polarized Sabahans and Malaysians – such as the  confiscation of printed materials for Christians in Sabah because of the unconstitutional ban of the use of the   word “Allah” by non-Muslims or the half-way stop-work order for the construction of the world’s tallest RM5 million Mazu statue in Kudat because of a fatwa by the Sabah mufti that it is haram in Islam  to construct the Mazu statue.

The DAP KDM Declaration to restore justice to the KDM community is part of the larger Malaysian battle for justice for all marginalized communities and groups for an equal and rightful place under the Malaysian sun and deserves the support of all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, territory or political beliefs.

* Lim Kit Siang, Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timur & Democratic Action Party Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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