Report of the Commission of Enquiry, North Borneo and Sarawak, 1962/CHAPTER 3

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CHAPTER 3

ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE


141. The arguments for participation by North Borneo and Sarawak in a Federation of Malaysia are well set out in the official Papers published by the Governments of the two territories (see Appendix E). The case for and against participation has been widely debated in the respective territories at meetings, in newspapers and in such forums as the Conference or the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee. indeed on a less formal level, Malaysia has been a major topic of conversation in the bazaars, clubs and coffe houses, homes and longhouses throughout the two territories. All this has contributed in no small measure towards an understanding of the Malaysia proposals.

142. The tasks set out in our Terms of Reference were to ascertain the views of the peoples of the these territories and to submit our recommendations. We have therefore attempted to the best of our ability to seek the opinions of the peoples of these two territories regarding the proposals for a Federation of Malaysia. This has been no easy task. We have given indications earlier that for a number of reasons opinions tend Io run all racial and communall lines. Even on lh: basis of communal interests there are often various shades opinion concerning a single subject on which there is general agreement in principle. Furthermore. it was not unusual for groups appearing before us to make exaggerated claims, sometimes bordering on the fantastic, of the number of their suppoters.

143. In assessing the opinion of the peoples of North Borneo and Sarawak, we have only been able to arrive at an approximation, We do not wish to make any guarantee that it may not change in alto direction or the other in the future. Making allowance for all the difficulties and for our inability to reach every part of these large territories, we have arrived at a general consensus or opinion with reasonable confidence, based on individual and representative evidence presented before us.

144. Although, in such circumstances, individual judgment is bound to vary in emphasis, the Commission as a whole endorse, as a general approximation not far wide of the rnark, the following assessment which is made by the Chairman. About one-third of the population in each territory strongly favours early realisation of Malaysia without too much concern about terms and conditions. Another third, many of them favourable to the Malaysia project. ask, with varying degrees of emphasis, for conditions and safeguards varying in nature and extent: the warmth of support among this category would be markedly influenced by at firm expression or opinion by Governments that the detailed arrangements eventually agreed upon are in the best interests of the territories. The remaining third is divided between those who insist on independence before Malaysia is considered and those who would strongly prefer to see British rule continue for some years to come. if the conditions and reservations which they have put forward could be substantially met, the second category referred to above would generally suppon the proposals. Moreover once a fimi decision was taken quite a number of the third category would be likely to abandon their opposition and decide to make the best of a doubtful Job. There will remain a hard core, vocal and politically active, which will oppose Malaysia on any terms unless it is preceded by independence and self-govemment; this hard core might amount to near 20 percent. or the population of Sarawak and somewhat less in North Borneo.







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