Sebanaku Sarawak supports the movement !!!
UPDATED AT 11.40PM KOTA KINABALU: Former PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan today announced the formation of United Borneo Front (UBF) as a network grouping for Sabahans and Sarawakians to assert their rights.
He also said that he was not leaving PKR as was widely speculated and dodged questions if he would leave the party in the near future.
Speaking to reporters at the end of his two-month vacation from politics today, Jeffrey said that the United Borneo Front would work to ensure that the rights of Sabahans and Sarawakians are protected.
The movement will work as a watchdog for the people of Sabah and Sarawak, he added.
Local version of Boston Tea Party
The maverick politician also said that UBF will be his main platform for his struggle, which he aims to achieve, regardless of under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.
He added that his announcement was made today as Dec 16 was an important date of another moment in world history - the occurrence of the Boston Tea Party in United States of America in 1773.
"The conditions in which we in Sabah and Sarawak are in today are similar to those in the British colonies in North America during this period. This date reminds me of the way the British suppressed the Americans through colonially oppressive laws that hindered them from growing.
"The Boston Tea Party highlighted the unfair cabotage policies and taxes in the trading of tea, which sought to save the ailing British-owned East India Company at the expense of the North American colonies.
"The British were forcing the American shipment of goods through England instead of making direct import from their sources just like what Sabah is experiencing now," he said.
Wealth not filtering down
Drawing the same parallel to the current practice of 'hubbing' through Port Klang and the control of domestic shipping through amendments in legislation since 1980, Jeffrey said this had forced an unfair "trade protectionist" situation.
He also lamented that while petroleum and gas sector contributed over 40% of the federal government income and that Sabah and Sarawak produced 45% of crude petroleum and 64% of natural gas, the people in the two states had remained the poorest in Malaysia.
"Something is seriously wrong when our wealth cannot filter its way down to our state government, the local business community and our people in Sabah and Sarawak.
"The United Borneo Front is born out of a need to address the situation that should have been in place since 1963.
"We did not leave the colonial bondage of the British North Borneo to enter into a federation as a disenfranchised group of natives.
"Sabah is well endowed with natural wealth par excellence and shall continue to be the nation's major source of wealth," he said.
Time for change
Jeffrey said UBF would work with any NGOs, individuals and political parties that share its cause that include:
(a) Demand for the establishment of a Compliance Mechanism to the Malaysian Agreement 1963, especially Article VIII (8);
(b) Demand for a fairer revenue sharing formula and representation at the federal level;
(c) Restore Sabah and Sarawak status as equal partners in the Federation;
(d) Protect the native rights as enshrined in Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution;
(e) Demand for the abolishment of the Cabotage / Transportation / Trade Policies;
(f) Narrow the economic and digital divide;
(g) Resolve the illegal immigrants and fake IC problems in Sabah.
Jeffrey also cautioned those who believe that change would come automatically and easily.
"Many people today, when talking about change, assume the change of government. Change of government does not automatically lead to desired changes. We in UBF must lead and educate our people to bring about the change we want.
"In 1963, we change from colonialism to an independent state. Many of our forefathers were looking forward to change, but look where we ended up 47 years later because we did not do anything about it.
"If it is not us (who bring the change), who else will? If it is not now, then when else?" Jeffrey asked in an eloquent one and a half hour speech elaborating the rationale for the setting up of UBF.
He was addressing about 200 people who thronged at his scheduled press conference held at Dowish Restaurant Hall just in front of the famous Hongkod Koisaan building, the headquarters of KDCA or Kadazandusun Cultural Association of which Jeffrey is one of its three deputy presidents.
Working with Zaid's Kita
Sources close to Jeffrey however said that the movement will work closely with Zaid Ibrahim's new political party, Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita).
Both Jeffrey and Zaid had a fall out with the PKR leadership following discrepancies in the party's polls last month.
Jeffrey's disenchantment with PKR also stemmed from, among others, the party's failure to leave Sabah leadership issues to Sabahans and lack of commitment from the PKR leaders to the 20-point Malaysia Agreement.
At his press conference today, he once again hit out at Pakatan Rakyat, especially PKR, for behaving just like Umno and Barisan Nasional when it comes to matters involving the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
Jeffrey has been politically rootless since the ouster of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government led by his elder brother Joseph Pairin Kitingan in 1994 by the current Umno-led BN coalition government.
He joined and left in quick succession several newly-formed political parties following the fall of PBS.
48 hours to quit PKR?
In a related development, a source close to Jeffrey told FMT that the former PKR vice president was expected to quit the party very soon to concentrate on UBF.
The source said Jeffrey is expected to submit his resignation letter in the next 48 hours.
“The letter is ready and will reach PKR headquarters very soon,” said the source.
Jeffery could not be contacted to confirm this but earlier at his press conference he refused to answer any questions pertaining to his position in the party.
"I have not sent my resignation letter," was all the maverick politician would say.