KOTA KINABALU: It was a bill of guarantees literally carved in stone and the symbol of a promise made to stand the test of time.
But over the decades, three important words have gone missing from the plaque and this was only just discovered.
The words "Kerajaan Malaysia jamin" (The Government of Malaysia guarantees) are no longer on the inscription that promises Sabahans that their rights will continue to be protected after Sabah is part of Malaysia.
The Batu Sumpah or Oath Stone was erected in the interior of Keningau on Aug 31, 1964 during a ceremony witnessed by federal and state leaders.
It served to assure Sabahans that their rights to religious freedom, land, culture and customs were guaranteed.
Then, during the 51st Malaysia Day on Sept 16, to celebrate Sabah and Sarawak joining Malaysia, the missing words on the plaque were noticed.
It is not known when exactly the inscription changed, but some speculate that it could have happened when the stone was moved to make way for a road project in 1978.
Others, however, suspect it may have been tampered with more recently.
Barisan Nasional leaders have called for the missing words to be re-inscribed, while the DAP has lodged a police report over the matter.
Minister in Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said the state government should restore the inscription.
"It is an important symbol of the pledge that the Government made and must be respected," said Kurup, who is Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president.
Kurup, who is also minister in charge of unity, said he would get the relevant agencies to put back the missing words.
"The Oath Stone is unique to Malaysia and should be in our history books so that the generations that follow will know how the country was formed on Sept 16, 1963.
"It is also a symbol of unity, freedom and peace," he said.