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A Brief Political History Of Sabah Sabah was originally a Satrapy (Duchy) of the Sultan of Brunei and his Tausug

Bajau vassal the Sultan of Sulu who also ruled Palawan, Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon in modern-day Philippines and for a while, Pekan alias Taiwan (prior to the Ming China conquest). In 1761, England acquired the island of Balambangan in Kudat from the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu but abandoned it promptly due to opposition from the latter. In 1865, Papar (also known as Kimanis) was acquired from the Sultan of Brunei by an American businessman and private colonialist Claude Lee Moses. He subsequently sold his colony to two American businessmen and private colonialists Thomas Harris and Joseph Torrey who had two Chinese business partners from Singapore. Harris, Torrey and the Chinese businessmen eventually sold the municipality to a German Austrian businessman based in British-ruled Hong Kong, Baron Gustavus De Overbeck (also known as Baron Gustavus Von Overbeck). Overbeck formed a company with his British pals, brothers Alfred and Edward Dent. This company subsequently acquired the whole of Sabah from the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu. Overbeck eventually sold his shares in the company to the Dents. They renamed the North Borneo Company as the British North Borneo Chartered Company (it obtained a charter from the British monarch). In 1881, Sabah became a full-fledged private colony of the Company. Nevertheless, British colonial rule was challenged by the Sultan of Sulu's Regent who governed Sabah, Datu Mat Salleh, a brave and fearless Sulu prince. Datu Mat Salleh proclaimed himself Sultan of Sabah in defiance of both the Western power and his cousin the Sultan of Sulu whom he deemed a "sell out". He led a multi-tribal revolt from 1895-1900. He was eventually shot dead after prayers by a treacherous lieutenant and was buried in Tambunan. Mat Salleh's follower Antanum, the paramount chief of the Muruts, also revolted against British rule, but was killed. From 1941-1945, Sabah was conquered by the Japanese. A doctor from Sarawak, Albert Kwok and a British-Kadazandusun government servant Jules Stephens organised a revolt against the Fascist Japanese Occupation but it ended with their executions. A descendant of Datu Mat Salleh, Datu Mustapha Datu Harun and another Bajau chief Panglima Ali also fought the Japanese. After World War 2, London made Sabah a Crown Colony as the Company could no longer govern the State and had to be disbanded.

Sabah gained Independence from British rule on August 31, 1963 and joined the States of Sarawak, Singapore and Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan in Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963. Sabah, together with Sarawak and Singapore were Special Autonomous Regions or Special Autonomous States of Malaysia. Singapore quit Malaysia after 2 years. Ever since Sabah became a State of Malaysia, the Philippines has staked a claim on it based on the fact that the Kingdom of Sulu [covering Palawan, Mindanao and Sulu] is now within the Philippines (the Philippines took Sulu when the United States acquired the colony, originally comprising Luzon and the Visayas from Spain in 1900). However, Sabahans have firmly rejected the claim and stood 100 per cent behind Malaysia. Three political parties led Sabah to Independence namely the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Organisation (Upko) led by the first Kadazandusun journalist Tun Muhammad Fuad Donald Stephens (Jules' son from Papar, the first foreign colony), the United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) led by Datu Mustapha from Kudat and the Sabah Chinese Association (SCA) led by Tan Sri Peter Lo Su Yin of Kota Kinabalu and Tan Sri Khoo Siak Chiew of Sandakan. Upko initially split into two parties namely Stephens' United National Kadazandusun Organisation (Unko) and Datuk Gunsanad Samson Sundang's United Pasokmomogun Organisation (Pasokmomogun). However, both parties re-merged shortly after Independence. SCA was a merger of two Chinese-based parties the United Party and Democratic Party led by Khoo and Lo, and Datuk Peter Chin (the father of prominent cartoonist Datuk George Chin alias Mingo) respectively. Stephens was the Paramount Chief or Hoguan Siou of the Kadazandusun people. Datu Mustapha became Sabah's first State Governor from 1963-1965. Stephens became Sabah's first Chief Minister from 1963-1964. Political rivalry erupted between the two prominent politicians no sooner than Independence. Stephens wanted a stronger degree of autonomy for Sabah while Datu Mustapha favoured a watering down of autonomy. The Federal Government in Kuala Lumpur, headed by the United Malay National Organisation (Umno) was inclined to side with Datu Mustapha who was also a friend of all the Sultans of the nine royal Malay States - Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan (especially Johor and Pahang). Nevertheless, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra maintained strong friendship

with both Sabahan personalities. He made Stephens Minister In The Prime Minister's Department in charge of Sabah Affairs in 1964. Peter Lo of the SCA became the new Sabah Chief Minister. In 1965, Datu Mustapha stepped down from the ceremonial post of State Governor and picked his longtime political ally, Brunei Prince Tun Pengiran Ahmad Raffae Pengiran Othman of Sipitang as the new State Governor. [Pengiran Raffae's daughter is veteran Usno women's leader and now Umno Sabah women's leader Datuk Dayang Mahani Pengiran Ahmad Raffae]. In 1967, Stephens became Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia. [Stephens was a family friend of Malaysian English theatre star Jo Kukathas and her late father, journalist and Information Ministry official V. Kukathas alias K. Das. Another family friend of Stephens was Korean-American journalist Jimmy Hahn and his daughter Lorraine Hahn of CNN fame]. In the same year, Datu Mustapha became the third Chief Minister of Sabah. He had a brilliant lawyer from the Kedah royal house, Tan Sri Syed Kechik act as his economic adviser. In the same year, Stephens decided to dissolve Upko and its members joined Usno. In 1975, a few years after Datu Mustapha discovered oil in Sabah's waters, he began to demand greater autonomy for Sabah, way beyond what Stephens ever asked for. This angered Malaysia's second Prime Minister and his ex-political ally the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein of Pekan, Pahang [Abdul Razak's son Datuk Seri Najib Razak is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia]. Stephens, who was appointed State Governor of Sabah in 1973 succeeding Pengiran Ahmad Raffae, was also unhappy with Datu Mustapha for allegedly favouring his own Bajaus over the majority Kadazandusuns in the political system of Sabah. He stepped down as State Governor in 1975 and decided to revive Upko, but this time as a multi-racial party, the Sabah United People's Party (Berjaya). Stephens was supported by his longtime ally, the first Kadazandusun lawyer Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan from Tambunan (Datu Mustapha's famous great-grandfather's resting place) and his younger brother, the brilliant Harvard-trained economist Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. And by the Ongkili brothers who were the relatives of the Kitingans - historian Datuk Dr James Ongkili, Datuk Roger Ongkili and Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili (now Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations). They were also joined by the Aman brothers of Keningau in Sabah, who were the

nephews of the late Gunsanad - Datuk Ayub Aman (successful film-maker and owner of Stephens' former newspaper The New Sabah Times), Datuk Seri Musa Aman (now Sabah Chief Minister) and Datuk Anifah Aman (ex-Federal Deputy Minister). Two prominent leaders from Usno also helped form Berjaya - Datuk Seri Harris Salleh, a Brunei blue-blood from Labuan and Datuk Ghapur Salleh, a Bajau chieftain from Tawau. Harris was related to the Aman brothers by marriage. In 1975, Datu Mustapha chose to step down as Sabah Chief Minister. He was succeeded by Usno deputy chief Tun Said Keruak, the most prominent Bajau chieftain of Kota Belud, the Bajau cultural heartland. A year later, Berjaya trounced Usno in the Sabah State election, with full support from Kuala Lumpur. Datu Mustapha and Said crossed over to the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly to allow Stephens a triumphant return as Chief Minister with Harris and Pairin as his deputies. Sadly, Stephens and the bulk of his State Cabinet perished in an air crash while flying from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu on June 6, 1976. He had been Chief Minister for a month. Malaysian Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a brilliant economist who was also the cousin of the then King of Malaysia Sultan Yahya Petra of Kelantan, cheated death when Harris decided to have him stay a little longer on Labuan. Tengku Razaleigh was then on an official visit to Sabah. Another person who cheated death was Pairin. Stephens had him accompany Harris and Razaleigh. [Tengku Razaleigh's cousin Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmud is one of Sabah's most prominent naturalists and environmentalists. This prince from Kelantan is a leader of the Malaysian chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and was largely responsible for discovering and conducting conservation and research work in the Maliau Basin of Lahad Datu. Tengku Zainal Adlin, who has also conquered Mount Kinabalu and discovered tropical plants, was a close friend of Datu Mustapha, Harris, the Kitingans and the Amans and is related to the Amans by marriage]. After the death of Stephens, Harris became the Chief Minister of Sabah with Ongkili and Ayub as his deputies. Pairin and Jeffrey saw their influence, which was strong during Stephens' time, slip away. Harris encouraged many migrants from the Philippines (mainly Tausug Bajaus from Sulu)

and Indonesia (mainly Bugis from Sulawesi) to work in Sabah as they were a good source of cheap labour. He justified this policy by stating that the native Sabahans were less than willing to undertake back-breaking menial jobs such as construction and estate jobs. Sabah developed by leaps and bounds under Harris and was reportedly the second richest State in Malaysia after Selangor when he left office in 1985. Harris, until today, is called the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of Sabah because, like Malaysia's brilliant and dynamic fourth Prime Minister from Kedah, he single-handedly modernised the economy of Sabah. Nevertheless, Harris was criticised by the Kitingans and their supporters for allegedly favouring Muslim Kadazandusuns over Christian ones who formed the majority of that indigenous community. His policy of allowing Filipinos and Indonesians to work in Sabah was also slammed by the Kitingans for allegedly pushing up the incidence of violent crimes in the State. When Berjaya defeated Usno, it was an Opposition party. Berjaya subsequently joined the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition while Usno left it. At Federal level however, both Berjaya and Usno were BN component parties. In 1981, when Usno failed to unseat Berjaya in the State election, Said resigned as Usno chief and Datu Mustapha returned to the hot seat. Said and his son Datuk Seri Salleh Said (who later became Sabah Chief Minister under Umno Sabah) began to support Berjaya but became more aligned to the Kitingans' camp than Harris' camp. In 1985, the Kitingans left Berjaya to form the Sabah United Party (PBS) with Pairin as its President. In the same year, Berjaya was trounced by PBS in the State election. It finished a miserable third behind PBS and Usno. Pairin replaced Harris as Sabah Chief Minister and his longtime protege Datuk Mark Koding of Ranau as well as Salleh became his deputies. Harris and Datu Mustapha decided that the only way to unseat Pairin was to merge their political parties to form the Sabah chapter of the United Malay National Organisation (Umno), the country's main political party which was then led by Dr Mahathir. The formation of Umno Sabah materialised in 1990. The Chinese members of Berjaya (who were all from SCA) restarted the party as the Sabah chapter of the Peninsular Malaysian-based Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

Datuk Edward Khoo became its leader. He was the son of Khoo Siak Chiew. However, some Berjaya Chinese decided to form a wholly Sabahan party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It was led by Datuk Hiew Ming Kong of Tawau and Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat (who later became Sabah Chief Minister) of Kudat. PBS governed Sabah from 1985-1994. It continued the development policies introduced by Berjaya but cut down on State expenditure. PBS joined the BN at Federal level but remained an Opposition party at State level. In 1990, Koding and Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, a prominent Bajau chieftain from Kota Belud, quit PBS to form the People's Justice Movement (Akar) which promptly became a BN party together with Umno Sabah, MCA Sabah and LDP. [Pandikar Amin is now the Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament]. Akar later became part of Umno Sabah. In the same year, Pairin withdrew PBS from the BN at Federal level. Four years later, several top leaders of PBS quit the party and formed their very own parties which promptly became BN members. Pairin's once-staunch allies Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup (a cousin of the Amans) formed the Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp), New Upko and the Sabah People's United Party (PBRS) respectively. The Keruaks threw their lot with Umno Sabah and so did prominent Muslim Kadazandusun chieftains such as Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam of Ranau (Koding's relative) and Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin of Beaufort. Even Jeffrey ditched PBS and became a founder member of PBRS. These defections led to the downfall of PBS. Pairin had to vacate the Chief Minister's post after clocking in the longest Chief Executive Officer's tenure in the history of modern Sabah. He was replaced by Umno Sabah chief Tun Sakaran Dandai, a Murut-Bajau chieftain from Semporna who was Datu Mustapha's longtime assistant. [Sakaran is the uncle of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal]. Datu Mustapha, the Keruaks, the Amans, Harris and Sakaran co-engineered the defections of the above parties and the downfall of PBS. Datu Mustapha, the first Umno Sabah chief, retired from active politics in 1993 as a result

of a severe kidney ailment which led to his death a year later. Said Keruak, who was Sabah State Governor from 1986-1994, followed in 1995.

In 2004, with Musa at the helm, the BN decided to scrap the rotation system as it did not give the Chief Minister enough time to carry out his projects. PBS rejoined the BN in 2001.

Harris chose not to join Umno Sabah and instead joined Umno Labuan. Nevertheless, he became an adviser to Umno Sabah. [Harris is a relative of former Labuan Umno chief and Labuan Mayor Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman]. He had on February 1, 1984 made his hometown Labuan a Federal Territory governed directly by Kuala Lumpur, not unlike the national capital city itself and the administrative capital of Putrajaya, both of which were taken out of Selangor on February 1, 1974 and February 1, 2001 respectively. The cession of Labuan to Kuala Lumpur was to facilitate its successful transformation into an International Offshore Financial Centre along the lines of the Cayman Islands, a British colony in North America. Sakaran spent a few months as Chief Minister of Sabah. At the end of 1994 he replaced the ailing Said Keruak as State Governor. Said Keruak's son Salleh became the new Chief Minister. At that time, the BN introduced a rotation system for the Chief Minister's post. An indigenous Muslim [either Kadazandusun, Bajau, Brunei or Murut] would be Chief Minister for two years, followed by a Chinese Sabahan and finally, an indigenous NonMuslim [either Kadazandusun or Murut]. Salleh became the first Chief Minister of Sabah under the rotation system. He was followed by Yong and Dompok. Dompok only served for a year because he lost his State Legislative Assembly seat in the State election of 1999. He was replaced by Datu Mustapha's ex-political secretary Datuk Seri Osu Sukam, a Bajau chieftain from Papar, and Chong. During Osu's tenure, the State capital of Kota Kinabalu became a city. Kota Kinabalu was formerly known as Api-Api and (during British rule) Jesselton. Datu Mustapha renamed it Kota Kinabalu in 1967. During Chong's tenure, hundreds of illegal immigrants were flushed out of Sabah. After Chong came Musa, the second Muslim Kadazandusun to lead Sabah since Stephens (Stephens was originally Roman Catholic but became Muslim in 1971 thanks to the liberal and progressive missionary work of Tunku Abdul Rahman and his enlightened ways).

In 2004, Jeffrey quit PBRS and became the chief of the Sabah chapter of the People's Justice Party (PKR). The PKR chapter of Sabah was originally led by a Bajau teacher from Tawau, Badrol Amin Baharom, formerly allied to Ghapur. The Sabah chapter of Gerakan was formed by PBS dissidents in 1994 led by Datuk Kong Hong Ming. Sabah's population comprises 20pc Chinese, 45pc Kadazandusuns, 18pc Bajaus, 10pc Bruneis and 7pc Muruts. The Sabah Chinese are half Christian and half Buddhist while the Kadazandusuns are a quarter Muslim and three quarters Christian. Likewise with the Muruts. The Bajaus and Bruneis are fully Muslim. Sabah has about 1.2 million people. It is the second largest Malaysian State after Sarawak. All its top political positions are held by indigenous people as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement 1963