HC Deb 02 August 1963 vol 682 cc793-4

11.6 a.m.

Mr. Bottomley

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what approaches have been made to him about postponing the date of the coming into force of the Federation of Malaysia on 31st August.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

We have had no such request.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is reported that approaches have been made to the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking whether it will carry out a plebiscite in the Borneo territories? If this is agreed by all parties concerned, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it wise that we should also agree, as a means of still further destroying the allegation by the Chinese imperialists that this is neo-colonialism?

Mr. Speaker

That seems to me to be a hypothetical question. It seems to be so full of "ifs" that it cannot be anything but hypothetical, in which case it is not in order.

Mr. Bottomley

May I ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that approaches have been made to the United Nations Secretary-General for the purpose of carrying out a plebiscite in North Borneo? If so, will we do nothing to obstruct that act?

Mr. Sandys

We have made no such request. I think that certain inquiries have been made to see what could be done between now and 31st August.

On the question of the attitude of China on this point, it should be remembered that the Dutch Government were not accused of imperialism when they handed over West New Guinea to Indonesia without a plebiscite. Indeed, they were almost accused of imperialism for suggesting that perhaps it would be a good thing if the opinion of the people were obtained before this transfer was made.

I should like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the Legislatures of both these territories, Sarawak and North Borneo, have passed resolutions, either unanimously or without any opposing votes, in favour of Malaysia. Both Legislatures were then dissolved, elections were held and majorities in favour of Malaysia were returned. We are, therefore, wholly satisfied that the majority of the population of both territories is in favour of joining Malaysia.

Mr. Brockway

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that what has happened bears out the warning which I ventured to give during the debate on this matter? Will he be very careful not to disturb the new promising relations between Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines in favour of a much wider confederation?

Mr. Sandys

The hon. Member says that he gave a warning. In fact, he said that he thought that it would be a good thing if we delayed the setting up of the new Federation. We very much take the view that it would be a mistake to delay a new association which is clearly desired by the peoples of all the territories concerned. Of course, any change in the date—and nobody has proposed that there should be a change—would require the approval of all the five Governments who have signed the agreement.

Mr. Kirk

Is it not true that this trouble has arisen because the President of Indonesia has changed his mind?

Mr. Sandys

I would not like to interpret his mind.

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