Page:Question of Malaysia.djvu/1

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The proposal for the formation of Malaysia was first made by the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya in May 1961, and a Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee was established at a regional meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in July of the same year. Following a report by a Commission of Enquiry (the Cobbold Commission), which had conducted meetings in Sarawak and North Borneo from February to April 1962, the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Federation of Malaya issued a joint statement, on 1 August 1962, that in principle the Federation of Malaysia should be established by 31 August 1963. A formal agreement was prepared and signed in London 9 July 1963 on behalf of the Governments concerned (the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore).

On 5 August 1963, following a six-day meeting in Manila of the Heads of Government of the Federation of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines, the Foreign Ministers of these three States cabled the Secretary-General of the United Nations, requesting him to send working teams to Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak in order to ascertain the wishes of these peoples with respect to the proposed Federation. The three Governments would similarly send observers to the two territories to witness the investigations of the working teams and the Federation of Malaya would do its best to ensure the co-operation of the British Government and of the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak.

The terms of reference of the request to the Secretary-General were set out in paragraph 4 of the Manila Joint Statement as quoted in the request addressed to the Secretary-General by the three Foreign Ministers:

The Secretary-General or his representative should ascertain, prior to the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia, the wishes of the people of Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak within the context of General Assembly resolution 1541(XV), Principle IX of the Annex, by a fresh approach, which in the opinion of the Secretary-General is necessary to ensure complete compliance with the principle of self-determination within the requirements embodied in Principle IX, taking into consideration: (1) The recent elections in Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak but nevertheless further examining, verifying and satisfying himself as to whether: (a) Malaysia was a major issue if not the major issue; (b) electoral registers were properly compiled; (c) elections were free and there was no coercion; and (d) votes were properly polled and properly counted; and (2) the wishes of those who, being qualified to vote, would have exercised their right of self-determination in the recent elections had it not been for their detention for political activities, imprisonment for political offences or absence from Sabah (North Borneo) or Sarawak.

(Principle IX of the Annex of General Assembly resolution 1541(XV) of 15 December 1960 provided that a non-self-governing territory integrating with an independent State should have attained an advanced stage of self-government with free political institutions. The same principle lays down that integration should be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the territory's peoples, expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based on universal adult suffrage. [1]) In his reply to the three Foreign Ministers on 8 August, the Secretary-General made it clear that he could undertake the task proposed only with the consent of the United Kingdom. He believed that the task could be carried out by his representative and proposed to set up two working teams—one to work in Sarawak and the other in Borneo—under the over-all supervision of his representative. The Secretary-General emphasized that the working teams would be responsible directly and exclusively to him and, on the completion of their task, would report through his representative to the Secretary-General himself who, on the basis of this report, would communicate his final conclusions to the three Governments and the Government of the United Kingdom. It was the Secretary-General's understanding that neither the report of his representative nor his conclusions would be subject in any way to ratification or confirmation by any of the Governments concerned.
  1. See Y.U.N., 1960, pp. 509-10.