Sarawak is located in the northwest of the island of Borneo and is Malaysia’s largest state. At the moment, local headlines here are dominated by an explosive topic: The unequal way Sarawak was allegedly treated historically.
When modern Malaysia was founded in 1963, the British protectorates of Sarawak and Sabah joined together with the crown colony of Singapore (that relationship was dissolved in 1965) and the Federation of Malaya. At the time, Malaya consisted of 11 states, also formerly British. When the Malaysia Agreement was signed, the representatives of Sarawak and Sabah negotiated with the British crown so that their regions would be seen as equals to Malaya. However in practice, and in the Malaysian Constitution of 1963, Sarawak and Sabah were treated no differently from the other 11 Malay states. They did not get their promised political freedoms, nor did they receive their legally mandated share of one-third of the national budget.
The reason this is all coming up again now is that for years the British agreements about Malaysia were kept under lock and key. They were first made public in the summer of 2017. This is why a delegation of Sarawak lawyers is currently still in London, checking to see if they could sue for compensation. Stay tuned!
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