Malaysia did not exist before 1963 until sabah,sarawak,spore n malaya came together as equal partners to form the federation of malaysia. East malaysia never "join" else the terms would implies that E.M join an existing political entity as junior partners. Then the federal govt commitment to a set of state rights gurantees attached to the m'sian agrmt refd to as the 20 points and among the key points were :-
Borneonization of civil service
The natives of east malaysia would be on par with the malays and other indigenous group in the peninsular ie a full bumiputra status....recently, there were cases of east m'sian bumiputras denied the housing discount when they buy property in the peninsular. we call this the non muslim bumiputra or 3rd class bumiputra.
ISLAM status as the national religion was not applicable to east m'sia.
The 20 points, if read in their entirely, give the east malaysian states considerable political autonomy but there has been a considerable dilution for the past 45 years.
East m'sia contributes more to the federal coffers through oil n gas revenue and yet still thousand of rural people have no access to clean water and electricity. Few villages just abt half an hour drive from kuching or kota kinabalu still having gravel road.
Official statistics showed sabah and sarawak as persistently having one of the highest poverty rates in the country.
What east m'sian want is respect for political autonomy as promised in the 20 points and a helping hand to bring dev on par with the peninsular states..
Thus, a vote for change is a vote for a progressive east malaysia..