The 20-point agreement, or the 20-point memorandum, is an agreement made between the state of Sabah (then North Borneo) with what would be the federal government of Malaysia prior to the formation of Malaysia in 16 September 1963. A similar agreement was made between the state of Sarawak and the federal government but with certain differences in their 18-point agreement.
The agreement was written for the main purpose of safeguarding the interests, rights, and the autonomy of the people of Sabah upon the formation of the federation of Malaysia. It was originally envisaged that Sabah be one of the four entities in the federation, the others being Malaya, Singapore, and Sarawak. However as times passed, Sabah and Sarawak have ended up being merely one of the 13 states in the federation.
There has been numerous calls for the agreement to be reviewed to take into account social, economic, and political changes over time.
Point 1: Religion
While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo
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Point 2: Language
· a. Malay should be the national language of the Federation
· b. English should continue to be used for a period of 10 years after Malaysia Day
· c. English should be an official language of North Borneo for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time.
Point 3: Constitution
Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of a free association of states and should not be a series of amendments to a Constitution drafted and agreed by different states in totally different circumstances. A new Constitution for North Borneo (Sabah) was of course essential.
Point 4: Head of Federation
The Head of State in North Borneo should not be eligible for election as Head of the Federation
Point 5: Name of Federation
“Malaysia” but not “Melayu Raya”
Point 6: Immigration
Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the Central Government but entry into North Borneo should also require the approval of the State Government. The Federal Government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into North Borneo for State Government purposes except on strictly security grounds. North Borneo should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in Federal Government employ from other parts of Malaysia into North Borneo.
Point 7: Right of Secession
There should be no right to secede from the Federation
Point 8: Borneanisation
Borneanisation of the public service should proceed as quickly as possible.
Point 9: British Officers
Every effort should be made to encourage British Officers to remain in the public service until their places can be taken by suitably qualified people from North Borneo
Point 10: Citizenship
The recommendation in paragraph 148(k) of the Report of the Cobbold Commission should govern the citizenship rights in the Federation of North Borneo subject to the following amendments:
· a) sub-paragraph (i) should not contain the proviso as to five years residence
· b) in order to tie up with our law, sub-paragraph (ii)(a) should read “7 out of 10 years” instead of “8 out of 10 years”
· c) sub-paragraph (iii) should not contain any restriction tied to the citizenship of parents – a person born in North Borneo after Malaysia must be federal citizen.
Point 11: Tariffs and Finance
North Borneo should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff, and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.
Point 12: Special position of indigenous races
In principle, the indigenous races of North Borneo should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present Malays’ formula in this regard is not necessarily applicable in North Borneo
Point 13: State Government
· the Prime Minister should be elected by unofficial members of Legislative Council
· There should be a proper Ministerial system in North Borneo
Point 14: Transitional period
This should be seven years and during such period legislative power must be left with the State of North Borneo by the Constitution and not be merely delegated to the State Government by the Federal Government
Point 15: Education
The existing educational system of North Borneo should be maintained and for this reason it should be under state control
Point 16: Constitutional safeguards
No amendment modification or withdrawal of any special safeguard granted to North Borneo should be made by the Central Government without the positive concurrence of the Government of the State of North Borneo
The power of amending the Constitution of the State of North Borneo should belong exclusively to the people in the state. (Note: The United Party, The Democratic Party and the Pasok Momogun Party considered that a three-fourth majority would be required in order to effect any amendment to the Federal and State Constitutions whereas the UNKO and USNO considered a two-thirds majority would be sufficient)
Point 17: Representation in Federal Parliament
This should take account not only of the population of North Borneo but also of its seize and potentialities and in any case should not be less than that of Singapore
Point 18: Name of Head of State
Yang di-Pertua Negara
Point 19: Name of State
Point 20: Land, Forests, Local Government, etc.
The provisions in the Constitution of the Federation in respect of the powers of the National Land Council should not apply in North Borneo. Likewise, the National Council for Local Government should not apply in North Borneo.