The issue of Federalism was written by this blog almost a year ago and now this issue is raised by Anwar Ibrahim. Two days ago Anwar Ibrahim called on all Malaysian to observe that the Federalism must be restored to its equitable height. Before the 2nd of February 1948 the Peninsula of Malaya were made of individual states with individual rulers and administrations.
Each and individual states then was a nation by itself. If the Federation of Malaya was not formed, I am now the loyal Subject of Yang diPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, the state that has been practicing Federalism long before other states got the tastes of it. The 4 Luak(s) and the Tanah Mengandung had been within the Federation of NS for centuries before the big Federation Agreement was signed in 1948.
In 1946 the British deceived and forced all the 9 Malay Rulers to surrender all their sovereignty to the British to form a Unitary Government called Malayan Union which was subsequently opposed by the Malays from all the states by the newly formed UMNO then (old UMNO), which congregated forty odd movements from the various states within the Peninsula, to heighten a move to dismantle the Malayan Union.
Malayan Union was formed to do away the boundaries between the individual states so as to a singular boundary and to set up one Unitary Nation and to reduce the Malay Rulers to a level of ‘Penghulu’-like level and functions.
The British realized that the brawny pressure from the Malays through this united Malay movement (UMNO) was hard to contain as it was supported in the open in all the state within the Peninsula. The Malays wanted London to return all the states to their respective sovereign rulers and the British felt that Malayan Union could not last any longer. As it was there was already active insurgency movement from the Chinese immigrants who were starting to move in the hinterland and the jungles against the British.
The movements by the MPAJ and groups like Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (API) and such were already active at that point of time. The British also realized that that they had to trust UMNO and to distrust other movements and groups as they were militants and some of the movements were having the propensity of allegiance towards Peking.
London in the end succumbed to the demands of Malays (UMNO) which was led by Onn Jaafar to dismantle Malayan Union and returned the various states to their respective rulers with their own self rule.
BUT the states had each and individual governments and they were independent from each other. While the states were independent from each other, UMNO from these states were a united movement and the party played gigantic role in getting tripartite negotiation between the Malayan Union, the Malay Rulers and UMNO to unite all the states within a Federation. By a Federation the unified states within the intended Federation would not sacrifice the position of the Kings (Malay Rulers) of the states.
In the end all these states merged into a Federation when the Federation Agreement was inked between the sates in 2nd of February 1948 and hence a new nation was born called the Federation of Malaya and this new Malaya became a protectorate country of the British until its independence in 1957.
The centre of administration for this new Federation was Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur became the Capital City of the Federation. If Malayan Union had the attributes of a Unitary Government, the Federation of Malaya was formally formed by a congregation of all the states with individual government and their own respective legislatives. All the individual states had their Executives headed by the Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers. As we were still under British protectorate the Mentris Bear and Chief Ministers were appointed by the British.
Hence one must recognize that the sovereignty of the state governments make up the sovereignty of the Federal Government. That is what we should be practicing here in Malaysia. Unfortunately the Malaysian and their ruling leaders without disrepute bastardize the onus of heightening the spirit of Federalism and shamelessly act like they are the rulers of a unitary government.
I hope Anwar is serious about looking on the Federalism issue if his party is accepted and given the mandate to take the mantle in place of BN. As for me I wish to insist the party to include this issue of Federalism as the main item in their election manifesto and if the elaboration on this issue is done through effective civic course by PR, a small percentage of voters increment towards the alternative coalition will be seen.
I am personally energized over this issue as the spirit of Federalism has been squarely disregarded by the Federal leaders in power, without generous regards to the spirit of Federation. I have been deliberating the issue at length about a year ago to alert everyone that we were already wayward from the practice of Federalism as many states especially the ones ruled by the opposition are not respected by Putrajaya and this is a direct encroachment over the rights of independent subjects of those states.
The Federal power hunger leaders are frequently not respecting the sovereignty of the Rulers and the elected government of the states. The Federal government must accept the crude actuality that without those individual sates there wouldn’t be a Nation that we are proud with now.
Putrajaya is not a Colonial Master that can do anything with their own whim and fancies alike to the intentions of the British in setting up Malayan Union in 1946. Placing a Federal Development Director in the in the opposition controlled states is a clear demonstration of Malayan Union-like administration. By doing so, we are essentially not respecting the wishes of the electorates. The people in all these sovereign states have every right to choose which government through the elections. This is a form of colonialism of Putrjaya over the sovereign states.
There are many more examples to this. By disregarding the Petroleum Development Act of 1975 which was signed between PETRONAS, a Federal Government Company by Guarantee with all the individual states in 1975 is a despicable and contemptible act of neo colonialism.
We must be reminded time and again that these individual states are sovereign. They have their own Kings (Malay Rulers), they have their own Legislative Assemblies and they have their own Executives headed by Mentri’s Besar and Chief Ministers.
Every Agreement inked with any state within the Federation is an agreement between the Federal Government and the people of the state through their elected government. I suggest all Federal Leaders including the PM must spend a bit of time to read and digest every little thing in the Federation Agreement of 1948.
By doing so, it may help a bit in enhancing the ethics and moral our leaders. Maybe all individual rakyat must be compelled to take up a civic course with regards to the Federalism.