Press Statement by Assistant Minister YB Hajah Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali on Research Mission to London

The research mission to London by the team led by me, has been very productive. The team members’ knowledge and understanding of the historical facts relevant to the constitutional issues encompassed in the ongoing Devolution of Power process, has been enhanced through research and study of the documents which originated from Sarawak before Malaysia Day but classified by the Colonial Administration as “secret” or “confidential.”These documents formed which is termed the “Migrated Archives” have been “declassified” by United Kingdom Government and stored in the British National Archives. These documents are no longer in the custody of the State Government after Malaysia Day.

These documents pertaining to:-

(i) the formation of Malaysia, including the minutes of meetings of the Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) leading to the publication of the IGC Report;

(ii) the reasons and objectives of the making of the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order 1954 by the Queen in Council, for the determination of the boundaries of Sarawak’s land, sea, and continental shelf limits prior to Malaysia Day; and

(iii) British Government Cabinet Papers relating to the Cobbold Commission’s report and its views on the granting Sarawak Independent on the formation of the new Federation of Malaysia.

2. Copies of these documents have been obtained by the Team from the British National Archives and from the Commonwealth Library and Archive at Marlborough House in London. The Government is studying these documents to ascertain the basis for the recommendations contained in the IGC Report of the constitutional safeguards for Sarawak and what further action need to be taken in order to have them fully implemented under Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement if they had not been already incorporated in the Federal Constitution or by executive, legislative or other action since Malaysia Day.

3. The documents on the Continental Shelf confirm the ownership rights of the States to the natural resources in the seabeds and subsoils in the Continental Shelf within the boundaries of the State as defined in the said Order in Council.

4. The documents found by the Team will add strength to State’s position in the discussions with Federal Government on Devolution of Power, and towards resolution of various constitutional matters under deliberation in these discussions.

5. On the Devolution of Power , on 25 July 2017, there was a meeting of the Steering Committee co-chaired by the Foreign Minister Dato Seri Anifah Aman (from Sabah) and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, to deliberate on the Report by the Technical Committee on DOP, headed by the federal Attorney-General. The State Government was represented at this meeting by a team led by the State Attorney General. This process of resolving the constitutional as well as financial issues, is therefore, an ongoing exercise. The Mission to London serves to strengthen the State’s case in this important phase of the discussion on Devolution of Powers with the Federal Authorities.

6. The State Government would endeavour to obtain from the British National Archives, documents in the previously classified files migrated from Sarawak to custody of the United Kingdom Government’s control, before Malaysia Day so that the State can also have possession of these important documents, particularly those in relation to the grant of oil mining concessions, revenue and financial matters, control of shipping and marine fisheries in Sarawak waters, administration of education, labour and public health. These documents, generated during the Colonial Administration will provide a better understanding on how these subject-matters were handled by before Independence.