"If you have a frank discussion with ordinary Sarawakians and Sabahans, there will be a slight majority to want Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia.
"They feel that since day one, the federal government has not treated Sabah and Sarawak as separate entities as had been promised since 1963," said Professor James Chin of Monash University Malaysia.The elites of East Malaysia, both in the ruling parties and the opposition, are loath to sever the economic ties they have built with the Peninsula, he said.
Speaking at a forum organised by the Bar Council today, Chin claimed that although this was the voice of the grassroots, the chances of Sabah and Sarawak seceding from Malaysia were unlikely as political leaders and business elites would not support such a move.
Although they were still dissatisfied with Putrajaya's treatment, the elites, especially those in Barisan Nasional, would likely only demand more parliamentary share for Sabah and Sarawak.
"Sabah and Sarawak have different demographics and history and the ruling government has created fault lines in Sabah and Sarawak that did not exist before," said Chin, a political scientist.
Secession is considered treason under Malaysian law.
Chin made this claim during the question-and-answer session at the forum on electoral reform in Petaling Jaya.
He said the political elites of East Malaysia want one third of all seats in Parliament allocated to East Malaysia, which currently has a 25% share of all parliamentary seats.
"This was made known during the parliamentary select committee on electoral reform in 2011, where East Malaysian elected representatives came out with a consensus on their demands.
"The political elites don't want to secede. It's only the grassroots in Sabah and Sarawak." – February 16, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider