LAHAD DATU: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said today Sabah would continue to be maintained as a state within Malaysia and no one should dispute that absolute status.
“The question of Sabah within Malaysia should not be disputed by anyone. Let not anyone underestimate Malaysia’s commitment to have Sabah within Malaysia forever. No one can dispute this, from within and outside the country.
“We will uphold the principle and fact [of Sabah within Malaysia] absolutely,” he told a news conference after a first-hand look and attending a briefing on the “Ops Daulat” offensive in Felda Sahabat 16 near here.
The operation was launched on Tuesday against armed militants who had intruded into Sabah on Feb 12 and killed eight policemen in two skirmishes on March 1 and 2 in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, and Kampung Simunul, Semporna, respectively.
Eighteen of the militants were also killed in the two gunbattles before the security forces launched the offensive, taking to 52 the death toll of the gunmen so far.
Also present at the news conference were Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman and several Cabinet ministers, including Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom.
Najib said the question of Sabah being within Malaysia should not be raised because that matter was contained in the national legislation.
“On the question of polemics of whether Sabah is a part of Malaysia, I want to stress that that issue had been finalised in 1978 and Sabah is a valid region in Malaysia,” he said.
He said the Cobbold Commission had held a referendum and two-thirds of the people in Sabah agreed to the state being a part of Malaysia. The commission also obtained the recognition of the United Nations.
(The Cobbold Commission was set up to find out whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak were agreeable to the proposal to create Malaysia, made up of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.)
Najib said the referendum was conducted in a democratic manner and, on that score, no one could dispute it.
As such, Sabah would continue to be a state within Malaysia forever, he added.