MALAYSIA AGREEMENT 1963 OVERVIEW/BACKGROUND Signing the Malaysia Agreement on 9 July 1963 in London Malaysia Agreement



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Signing the Malaysia Agreement on 9 July 1963 in London

Malaysia Agreement (MA63) is a signed document by the parties “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Federation, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore”. .
This agreement has been signed on 9 July 1963 in London and legitimate texts legally for every aspect in the agreement has in Malay and English. This agreement has been registered in the “Sekretariat Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB-PBB)” at 21 September 1970 by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In this agreement, there are 11 sections followed by the attachments which become the basics of Act 26/1963 to amend the constitution existing Constitution Federation of Malaya to the Constitution Federation of Malaysia, in line with merger together with North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore.
Each one of those things contained in the agreement that works as a matter and the direction that should be followed, obeyed and fulfilled by all parties who have signed this agreement.
Other than that, After Singapore joined the Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, its government structure was laid out in the 1963 National Constitution, which was the Third Schedule for Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (State Constitution) Order at the Council of 1963(Tan 1999).
Although the constitution of 1963 replaced The 1958 Constitution of Singapore, most of the provisions in the new constitution – particularly in relation to the legislature, executive and public administrations and the special government responsibilities of minority communities – remain largely the same as the previous constitution.
This is because Singapore maintains most of its executive and legislative branch structures as defined in the 1958 constitution. The island state is given a large amount of autonomy in its internal affairs business as part of its federal entry requirements.
The term entry of Singapore is expressed in the Malaysia Agreement signed in London on 9 June 1963 between Great Britain, Federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak (Hoffman L.1963)
However, there were some differences between the 1963 and 1958 constitution. As Singapore gained full independence from the British after joining Malaysia, the authorities for defense, external affairs and internal security were transferred to the federal government in Kuala Lumpur.
The provisions in the 1958 constitution which allowed the constitution of the British High Commission’s office and the establishment of the House Security Council were also issued (State Constitution, 1963)
Furthermore, as a state in Malaysia, the authority on the appointment of the Yang di-Pertuan Negara or the head of the Singapore state is placed under the jurisdiction of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Malaysia. There are also additional provisions defining Singapore citizenship and its status in Malaysia.
The 1963 Constitution is unique in the sense that the constitution framework examines and protects local autonomy for Singapore in Malaysia. As mentioned by Yang di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak in his speech at the State Legislative Assembly on 29 November 1963, the new constitution was designed to “prevent the collapse of the economic prosperity, public service, social facilities, educational facilities and public housing, whatever occurring throughout Malaysia “. (Debate OR 1963)
The 1963 Constitution came into force on August 31, 1963. It remained in force until Singapore’s separation from Malaysia became a sovereign and sovereign nation on August 9, 1965.


Union Between Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah)

Singapore officially become part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 following its merger with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) to form the Federation of Malaysia. For Singapore, merger with Malaysia has become its path to economic development.
As an island without natural resources and faced with the deteriorating threat of deteriorating trade, Singapore needs the interior of Malaya to provide a larger market for its industry to create more jobs and generate growth.
In line with the agreement, Singapore was required to hold out by a number of condition to join Malaysia. Firstly, Singapore will maintain control over education and labor. However, defense, external affairs and internal security will be under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Secondly, in return for autonomy in education and labor, Singapore will only have 15 seats in federal parliament and not 25 seats eligible by voter size.
Third, all Singaporeans will retain their Singapore citizenship while automatically becoming a larger federal citizen. However, they can only vote in Singapore. This term, which was agreed upon by both the Singaporean and federal governments, was published in the White Paper in November 1961.
However, the White Paper does not provide details on financial and economic matters, including tax and joint market execution. This item is only finalized by signing the Malaysia Agreement on 9 July 1963.
Under the terms of the agreement, Singapore will contribute 40 percent of its revenue to the federal government, and the common market will be set up within 12 years. In addition, Singapore will provide a $ 150 million development loan to North Borneo and Sarawak, of which $ 100 million will be interest-free for five years.
With the settlement of these unsubstantiated issues, the Malaysia Agreement was ratified and the date of formation of the Federation of Malaysia was fixed on 31 August 1963. However, Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had postponed the formation of the Federation from two weeks to 16 September to give more time for the United Nations to complete its study of people’s sentiment in the Borneo region over the merger.
However, the delay did not prevent Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister, from declaring on August 31 Singapore independence from British colonial rule, much to Kuala Lumpur’s chagrin.
For the Sarawak and Northern Borneo (Sabah) join Malaya in forming Malaysia with an understanding that there will be a guarantees in the Federal Constitution to protect their rights and privileges. These guarantees and safeguards have since been inserted into constitutions and relevant laws.
Other than that, before the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak obtained the self-Government Administration on 22 July 1963, while North Borneo embarked on the Self-Government Administration of the United Kingdom on August 31, 1963, up to the 6th anniversary of Malaya’s independence.
August 31st 1963 is also a day in which Malaysia’s formation is planned to take place. Some issues related to Indonesia’s and Philippines’s neighbors’ objections to the formation of Malaysia (which could not be resolved and subsequently let to a political confrontation especially between Malaysia and Indonesia) postponed the declaration on 16 September 1963. On the same day, North Borneo was renamed Sabah.


There were several contemporary issues of state autonomy especially Sabah and Sarawak when the result of GE-13 further confirmed the important of the Barisan Nasional (BN) have been able to claim victory at that time. Accordingly, the Sabah and Sarawak BN have pressed their own demands. The electoral process parties were therefore introduced in a context of rapid changes it by the creation Malaysia (Milne and Ratnam 1974)
At the 53th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia (September 16, 2016), people in the Peninsular should pay serious attention to the concerns raised by the increasing number of groups and individuals in Sarawak and Sabah on the rights of their two states in the Malaysian federation. This concern is getting stronger and more persistent in the last two or three years.
The emergence of Sarawak and Sabah votes as the Barisan Nasional’s powerful force in Putrajaya following the 2013 general election cannot be denied as a major factor. This is because Sarawak and Sabah politicians are aware of the power they now use on the federal government that they have become more firm on their country side
At that time, state rights and autonomy issues were once again turned on. Sabah leaders have claimed that Sabah has lost its autonomy and it’s time for it to be fully restored.
Politics and political parties in Sabah hence tend to be less ‘racialized’ (Mandal 2004) and the communal model of party politics, which is so often the focus of interest in comparative studies of Malaysia.
Although no one can deny the fact that Sabah and Sarawak has the right to insist on autonomy under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, it must be done in the Federation of Malaysia and the national interest.


In my opinion on the issue of autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak is an autonomy, empowerment, self-determination, human rights, devolution, or decentralization of Sabah that has been ridiculed and denied since a few years ago has been the business of every politician, activist and man in the streets of Sabah and Sarawak.
Sabah and Sarawak autonomy should be maintained as the state also needs to maintain their respective rights. In fact, Sabah and Sarawak have extra autonomy to make decisions because of MA63.
Other than that, Sarawak and Sabah has its own immigration law because Sarawak and Sabah has the power to regulate immigration to their states. In fact, Malaysians from the Peninsular need a permit if they want to work or study in Sarawak or Sabah. Those who are on a short trip to Sarawak and Sabah need to fill out an immigration form to pass a 90-day tour.
Next, for education in Sarawak and Sabah should be further enhanced by the system in line with education on the peninsula Malaysia. This is because the learning system in Sabah and Sarawak is still not systematic. Even the schools there are still many in the rural areas.
For transportation, Sabah and Sarawak are still outdated – the lack of transport not like in the peninsular Malaysia. In Sabah is still using the old train and nothing such as “Rapid Bus”. The road is still has lot of problems and is not fixed because it costs a lot.
Moreover, in financial, Sabah and Sarawak are still lack of finance. Where products such as palm oil and others have been exported to peninsular Malaysia due to high demand. However, Sabah and Sarawak has not profit as expected because the people are still under the auspices of the political party that will control the money in the state.
What do I think that the current government should do to address this problem is the government needs to investigate and rethink the detailed aspects of each terms of the agreement. As far as the new takeover of Pakatan Harapan government, Sabah and Sarawak seems to be given back their autonomy right, maybe not entirely, but hopefully will keep being restored gradually.


1. Milne, R. S. (1967), Government and politics in Malaysia, Boston, MA:University
of Colorado, Houghton Mifflin Company

2. Simandjuntak, B. (1985), Federalisme Tanah Melayu 1945-1963, Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Penerbitan Fajar Bakti Sdn. Bhd.

3. Yusoff, M. A, (1962), Malaysian federalisme: conflict or consensus, Shah Alam,
Selangor, Malindo Printers Sdn. Bhd.

4. Institut Tadbiran Awan Negara, (1983), Negara Kita:sejarah, pentadbiran dan dasar-
dasar pembangunan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jabatan Percetakan Negara.

5. Time Media Private Limited, (2001) Kisah Singapura : Memoir Lee Kuan Yew,
Singapore, Utopia Press Pte Ltd.


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