OATH STONE HON­OURS GUAR­AN­TEES

New Straits Times - - Letters -

ON Sept 12, 1962, the North Bor­neo Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil agreed to ac­cede to the Malaysia Agree­ment af­ter pre­sent­ing a 20point agree­ment writ­ten by chief min­is­ter Tun Muham­mad Fuad Stephens. But, con­sid­er­able ap­pre­hen­sion and reser­va­tion re­mained among the na­tive chiefs.

They de­cided that some of the guar­an­tees promised by the Malayan gov­ern­ment should be carved in stone, while pledg­ing their loy­alty to the new na­tion.

With the for­ma­tion of Malaysia, North Bor­neo was re­named Sabah in 1963. In 1967, Jes­sel­ton was re­named Kota Kinabalu.

It was usual for dis­putes among the Orang Asal in the in­te­rior to be set­tled by con­struc­tion of oath stones.

It was their adat, or cus­tom­ary prac­tice or tra­di­tion. More­over, what was writ­ten on pa­per could eas­ily be changed.

The Keningau district of­fi­cer was tasked with over­see­ing the erec­tion of the oath stone. A huge river stone, weigh­ing more than two tonnes, was found near a vil­lage in Keningau.

A Sin­ga­porean ship­yard was com­mis­sioned to make a metal plaque to be af­fixed to the stone.

The in­scribed words were in the old Malay spell­ing. Trans­lated, it read:

Memo­rial Oath Stone ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion:

FREE­DOM of re­li­gion in Sabah; THE gov­ern­ment of Sabah holds author­ity over land in Sabah;

NA­TIVE cus­toms and tra­di­tions will be re­spected and up­held by the gov­ern­ment; and,

IN re­turn, the peo­ple of Sabah’s in­te­rior pledge loy­alty to the gov­ern­ment of Malaysia.

The three main points in the 20-point agree­ment at­tached to the 1963 Malaysia Agree­ment were en­graved on the plaque, in­clud­ing the words “The gov­ern­ment of Malaysia guar­an­tees”.

The Keningau Oath Stone was un­veiled by Fuad on Aug 31, 1964, at the com­pound of the old Keningau District Of­fice, which was then re­lo­cated to its pre­sent site.

For 46 years, it stood, for­lorn,

FRI­DAY, MAY 5, 2017 un­til the of­fi­cial na­tional-level cel­e­bra­tion to com­mem­o­rate Malaysia Day was held in Sabah in 2010. The his­tor­i­cal stone fi­nally re­ceived its due recog­ni­tion.

That year, for­mer deputy nat­u­ral re­sources devel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Tan Sri Joseph Ku­rup sug­gested that the stone be re­lo­cated to a more suitable place in view of its his­tor­i­cal value.

Last Fe­bru­ary, Tourism and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Nazri Ab­dul Aziz said the stone would be gazetted as a her­itage ob­ject un­der Sec­tion 49 of the Na­tional Her­itage Act 2005.

It will be a fo­cal point for Sabah pol­i­tics and a tourist at­trac­tion, as many Malaysians re­vere the oath stone as sa­cred.

The con­tri­bu­tions of our na­tion’s found­ing fa­thers should never be for­got­ten, and the guar­an­tees made should con­tinue to be hon­oured.

C.Y. MING Kuala Lumpur

ED­MUND SAMUNTING PIC BY

Vis­i­tors look­ing at a replica of the Keningau Oath Stone at the Sabah Mu­seum in Kota Kinabalu.

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