Kuching, 5 May 2024 – A critical perspective has been shared by Voon Lee Shan, President of Parti Bumi Kenyalang, challenging the common perception of Malaysia as a country. Voon asserts that Malaysia is, in fact, a federation and not a single country, citing Article 1(1) of the federal constitution, which states, "The Federation shall be known, in Malay and in English, by the name Malaysia." He points out that it does not explicitly state that Malaysia is a country.

Voon explains that Malaysia was formed as a federation by four countries: Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak, and Malaya on 16 September 1963 through the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), which was signed on 9 July 1963. He argues that Sabah and Sarawak should still be recognized as countries rather than states or regions within this federation. "The federal constitution does not say Sabah and Sarawak are regions within the federation of Malaysia," Voon emphasized.

Currently, Sabah and Sarawak are treated as states in the federation of Malaysia. However, the Sarawak government is considering rebranding Sarawak as a region rather than a state. Voon argues that this change in terminology is superficial and does not address the underlying legal and political issues. "Being a federation, Malaysia is not a country although there is a federal government for the federation," he stated.

Voon also highlights the historical context of Singapore's exit from the federation in 1965, when it declared independence. He believes this departure underscores the notion that Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore were initially acquired to expand Malaya and became its colonies. After acquiring these territories, Malaya rebranded itself as Malaysia.

According to Voon, the colonial nature of this arrangement allowed Malaya to exploit the natural resources of Sabah and Sarawak, particularly oil and gas, under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74). "Sabah and Sarawak lose about two hundred billion ringgit each year in natural wealth, while receiving only about ten billion ringgit annually as development funds from the federal budget," Voon explained.

He contends that the federal government, which he views as being controlled by Malaya, continues to exercise colonial-like control over Sabah and Sarawak. Voon argues that merely changing the status of Sarawak from a state to a region is a superficial move that lacks legal significance. "The correct action for the Sarawak government is to push for amendments to the federal constitution to restore Sarawak's status as a country within the federation of Malaysia," he concluded.