During the official visit to Sarawak, Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin had called Sabah and Sarawak a “Wilayah” instead of a state.
He said that although everyone referred “states” as “states”, Sabah and Sarawak were actually “Wilayah” or “Region”.
While this had sparked some confusion, the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had confirmed the announcement from the Prime Minister is true and Sabah and Sarawak had been renamed as “Wilayah” with immediate effect.
There were several parties who do not believe the claim as there were no official statement from the Prime Minister Office (PMO) too.
What’s the difference?
According to the definition in Kamus Dewan (4th Edition), a “state” meant a place to stay and it can be a village or a country. Furthermore, a state can be governed by a King (Sultan) or a Governor.
Whereas, “Wilayah” is an area with two or more administrative areas. According to the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, Act 172, the territory consists of two or more states.
While the meaning of federal territory is a territory that is administered directly by the Federal Government of Malaysia and administered under the legislation of the Ministry of Federal Territories.
Understanding the new status of Sabah and Sarawak
- The term “Wilayah for Sabah and Sarawak is a different term from the “Wilayah” in the Peninsula.
- Looking back at the history of the establishment of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are indeed a “Wilayah”.
- The new status refers to the recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as equal to the Peninsula.
- The recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as “Wilayah” does not have the same meaning as the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. In other words, the Federal Territory of Labuan is lower than the states but Sabah is higher than the states in the Peninsula in the context of the establishment of Malaysia.
- The Federal Territories are regulated by the Ministry of Federal Territories and each territory is administered by local authorities, namely the Kuala Lumpur City Hall for Kuala Lumpur, the Labuan Corporation (Labuan) and the Putrajaya Corporation (Putrajaya).
In short, if this “Wilayah” term is valid, Malaysia will be country with 11 states, two “Wilayah” and three federal territories.