Monday, October 7, 2013

Sarawak has a lot of catching up to do

October 7, 2013

Looking back, for all the shortcomings and the expectations that are yet to be fulfilled, Sarawak’s decision in 1963 to be part of the Malaysian Federation was right.

By Leo Moggie
I’d like to thank the President of the Sarawak Association – Lord Tanlaw, the Secretary – Mr Peter Lawrance, and members of the Association for inviting my wife and I to be your guests, and for me to speak, at this 2013 AGM of the Association, here in London.
As Sarawak is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of Independence and also the 50th Anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, this year, Mr. Lawrance has suggested that it would be appropriate for me to make some remarks on development in Sarawak in the last fifty years.
I am happy to do so. But, I hope, in speaking about Sarawak to a room full of people who cherish a close and strong affinity to Sarawak, that you will excuse me for a bit of reminiscing and approach the topic at hand as a personal journey.
I was a young man of 21, studying at Otago University in New Zealand on a Colombo Plan scholarship, throughout the time when the formation of Malaysia was actively discussed in Sarawak, and at the time when it was formally proclaimed on 16th September 1963. I was schooled and groomed into adulthood during post-war British colonial rule in Sarawak. I experienced a longhouse childhood that was enriched by the influence of Mill Hill missionary priests, government boarding schools at Batu Lintang, Kuching and Tanjong Lobang, Miri and the dedication of the La Salle Christian Brothers, at St. Joseph’s Kuching. I had the blessing of supportive parents, who were in some ways ahead of their time, and knew the value of education for the future of a child from a longhouse in rural Sarawak. I was among the lucky ones who had the benefit of a good education.
The general Sarawak student population studying abroad at the time were more concerned with their studies. There were a few of us influenced perhaps by campus activism, at the time of the Vietnam War, who were keen to follow events at home. We did not feel any disenchantment with British colonial rule, nor were we enthused at the prospect of Malaysia. Was Sarawak ready for self-government? Would we really be able to participate in a meaningful way in the new Federation? Would we see the departure of the British only to be replaced by the coming of the Malayan?
A good section of the Sarawak population at home was similarly apprehensive. There was no pressure for political change from the indigenous community. In a meeting of community leaders at Long San in the Baram, in early January 1962, in preparation for their representation to the Cobbold Commission, Temenggong Oyong Lawai Jau, the Paramount Chief of the Orang Ulu at the time, in a very telling speech, preferred the continuation of British rule. The Orang Ulu had yet to acquire a level of education that would secure for them a proper role in Government. Temenggong Jugah, the Paramount Chief of the Iban, has often been quoted to have said on another occasion that he hoped Malaysia would not be like sugar cane, sweet at the stem but rather insipid at the end – to those of you who remember your Iban language – “baka tebu, pun manis, ujong tabar”.
The Cobbold Commission, as you recall, set up by the British and Malayan Governments to ascertain the views of the people of Sarawak regarding whether Sarawak should join Malaysia, in its report in July 1962 concluded that 1/3 of the population of Sarawak favoured joining Malaysia without concern to the details. Another 1/3 had a number of concerns, but if these were addressed would agree. The other 1/3 were divided into two groups – one group wanted the establishment of an independent state of Northern Borneo comprising Brunei, Sarawak and British North Borneo (now Sabah), while the other group wanted continued British colonial rule. The Malaysia agreement and the Malaysian Constitution that followed, reflected some of these concerns – e.g. freedom of religion, rights over land, State control of immigration, the indigenous natives of Sarawak to be accorded the same status as the Malays of Malaya.
Those who insist on the details of history are correct in saying that Sarawak enjoyed a period of internal self-government for 56 days, i.e. from July 22 to Sept 15, 1963. The formal decision to be part of Malaysia was made by Stephen Kalong Ningkan and his cabinet, the first elected government of self-governing Sarawak. It is also historically correct that Malaysia was already a fait accompli by July 22, 1963, when Ningkan and his cabinet formally received their letters of appointment from the last British Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell. British policy was to decolonise. A lot of meetings involving the British and Malayan Governments, and representatives from Sarawak and Sabah, through the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee, had been held following the time that the Malayan Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman in a luncheon speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club in Singapore on May 27, 1961, publicly broached the idea of a closer association between Malaya, Great Britain and the people of Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo. On July 9, 1963, the Malaysia Agreement was already agreed by Britain, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah (Brunei, at the last moment withdrew). The British House of Commons on July 18, approved the Malaysia Bill, enabling Sarawak and Sabah to join in the formation of Malaysia. The threat of communist influence on Singapore and the fear of its domino spread to Malaya underpinned British encouragement for the merger of Singapore with Malaya. Sarawak and North Borneo would provide the native population, as a balance to assuage Malay worry of Chinese numerical majority. Malaysia was founded on the converging interests of security for Malaya and Singapore, the culmination of South East Asian nationalism demonstrated by Indonesia and Philippines, with the British policy of decolonisation.
The role of the British civil servants in Sarawak, in 1961,1962 and 1963 was to convince the people in Sarawak, leaders like Temenggong Oyong Lawai Jau and Temenggong Jugah. The Brunei Rebellion of Dec 8, 1962, which spread to Limbang, and the subsequent incursion of Indonesian troops into Tebedu in Sarawak in April 1963, removed any lingering doubt in their minds of the real threat of Sarawak being absorbed by Indonesia. The people of Sarawak were persuaded that Malaysia was the only alternative to communist and/or Indonesian control, and that Malaysia promised the prospect of accelerated development.
I was amongst the group of young impressionable Sarawakians pursuing a University education overseas then, who left Sarawak as subjects of a British Colony but returned as citizens of Malaysia. For us, our working lives have been witnesses to the unfolding progress that has been part of the Sarawak story for the last fifty years. In our own ways, we have contributed in turning Sarawak into what it is today. Amongst us, some were later to become top civil servants, prominent educators, successful businessmen, while some others, like me, after a stint in the civil service, made the conscious decision to move into serious politics!
As you recall, Malaysia was to have been formally established on Aug 31, to coincide with the 6th Anniversary of the Independence of Malaya but was postponed because of objections from Indonesia and the Philippines. As a result of those objections, a United Nations Malaysia Mission was sent to report on the wishes of the people of Sarawak and Sabah. The mission, on Sept 13, formally submitted its report confirming that the people of Sarawak and Sabah were in favour of Malaysia. The Malaysia Agreement was passed by the first fully elected Council Negeri on Sept 5, 1963, and the formal establishment of Malaysia was proclaimed on Sept 16, 1963.
Experience as a DO
During the early years of Malaysia, the civil service continued to be the career path of choice for educated Sarawakians, as it had been during the British Colonial period. Today, the Sarawak civil service continues to retain a reputation of being one of the best in the country, maintaining an effective legacy of British administration. I had my fair share of civil service work upon my return to Sarawak in early 1966 until 1974 – first as Assistant DO in Kapit where my immediate boss was Percy Majeng. This is a name familiar to those who have read Dr. Erik Jensen’s book “Where Hornbills Fly” as the Senior Native Officer who introduced Erik to the quirks and nuances of longhouse culture in Ulu Undup. (The advanced copies of the paperback edition of “When Hornbills Fly”, I gather, are already available.) This was followed by an ego-boosting promotion to DO of Kapit after just 3 months. For a young man fresh from University, with no job training and zero working experience, the DO position in mid-1960s Sarawak, was one of the best jobs one could ask for. At that time, the role of the civil service was still dominant, and the District Administration still retained some of the past legacy of Brooke practice, before the bureaucratic influence of the Secretariat stifled district level initiatives. The DO, as the complete face of the government, was not only expected to be Jack of All Trades but was also Lord of his District. His word counted.
In 1966, the District Office in Kapit was housed on the second floor of the Fort Sylvia building, a solid belian ironwood structure built by Charles Brooke in 1880 and renamed after Ranee Sylvia in 1924. That splendid structure has been gazetted as a Heritage building and thanks to the Tun Jugah Foundation which took over the building in 1994, it is well maintained and is now a Museum. (The Chairman of The Tun Jugah Foundation, Tan Sri Leonard Linggi Jugah, is here with us this evening.)
The ground floor served as a temporary boarding house for the new government secondary school which was under construction. The office had an open floor plan with the desks for the various departmental staff arranged all around with an empty space in the middle that gave access to the District Officer’s desk at the alcove at the end of the hall. I was at my desk one morning, soon after I took over from Percy, when a man who was noticeably anxious rushed up the stairs and came straight towards me. He stopped mid-way, turned back and sat at the bench at the top of the landing. He could not believe a local man of my age could be DO. On enquiry, it transpired that his wife was at the local hospital then run by the Methodist mission. She needed blood for a transfusion.
I rang Dr. Cristolago, who told me what type of blood was needed. A few policemen with the correct blood type were found. It all ended well. As a sequel, some months later, I was on a visit to longhouses up the Balui river doing what DOs used to do in those days, and stopped at a longhouse called Uma Juman. The couple was from there.
I was particularly well received, the glass of tuak (borak) or rice brew, in front of me was constantly refilled to the brim. That particular longhouse is now under water, part of the lake formed by the development of the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam, and the children of that couple together with the other residents of the longhouses up the Balui are now resettled in an area closer to Belaga at a place called Sungai Asap.
Those who served during the time of the British Colonial Government would have found little change in how things were done up to the end of the 1960s. In 1967, there was a vacancy for a District Council seat in Pelagus. By coincidence, the Penghulu of the area had just died and a new replacement Penghulu needed to be elected. I thought it would be practical to carry out the two elections at the same time, which we did. Kuching was not amused. It felt that these elections must be held separately, on the basis that a Council election was political in nature whereas a Penghulu was meant to be an appointment as a Native chief.
I thought it was pure semantics – but I was taken to task. We had it resolved quickly. We gathered the candidates together, and with their agreement, the elections were aborted. We opened the separate ballot boxes and had a mini bonfire at the District Office jetty. All were satisfied. Mike Meikle, who was Resident in Sibu, was much relieved.
The DO, the candidates and their agents, enjoyed well deserved drinks at my Bungalow. Separate and new elections were conducted. The results were predictable. Nasat, won the District Council by-election. Nuing ak Kudi won the separate Penghulu election. Now, both local Councillors and Penghulus are appointed by the Government.
The teething problems
The political side of government policy, however, could have done with revamping and new ideas. And looking back now, those of us local Sarawakians in the civil service were partly to blame. We had a central role after the British Civil Servants left. We should have been more proactive in filling that gap.
The Chief Minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, and his successor Tawi Sli, and their political colleagues, understood grassroots politics and were competent in that field. But modern administration required broader vision and they did not have the exposure nor the experience that were needed. In the case of Ningkan, he was a medical dresser with the Shell Company in Seria, Brunei before returning to Sarawak. His term as the first Chief Minister from July 1963 to September 1966 was made more difficult because of issues of security.
Government policy and activities were concentrated on Sukarno’s Konfrontasi. But he continued with the resettlement schemes in Serian and Skrang as a means of bringing development to the rural areas. Ningkan, however, did not have a happy relationship with the Federal Government in Kuala Lumpur. According to some accounts, this was in part due to Ningkan’s resistance to increased Federal pressure to adopt a pro-Malaya policy and administration. Stories of occasional lapses of personal behaviour on his part were heard and these provided fodder for his critics. Ningkan was deposed in September 1966, through Emergency Legislation.
Tawi Sli and his cabinet too, had to contend with a question of security, not with Sukarno, as Confrontation ended in mid 1966, but with the Communist terrorists, in the First, Second and Third Divisions. New resettlement areas were set up not as a strategy for rural development but as a way both to block the line of food supply to the terrorists, as well as to protect the villagers from their being intimidated.
Tawi Sli exercised a very marginal role throughout the time he was Chief Minister. When the National Emergency was declared after the racial riots in Kuala Lumpur on May 13th 1969, and Parliament was suspended the country was ruled through the National Operations Council and Tawi Sli was effectively sidelined.
The Director of Operations in Sarawak was the Federal Secretary, Harun Ariffin (the Head of the Federal Civil Service in Sarawak) not Tawi Sli, the Chief Minister. It may be said that apart from having to deal with security, for most of the first 10 years after Malaysia was formed, Sarawak was occupied with adjusting to be part of a wider federation and the teething problems associated with it, where the expectations of the Central Government were, at times, not what leaders in Sarawak had hoped for.
1970 could be said to be a watershed. The first direct elections in Sarawak, to the Council Negri and Parliament, brought two major outcomes. The Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), which, it may be recalled, did not welcome the formation of Malaysia and voted against the Malaysia Agreement in Council Negri on Sept 5, 1963, decided to join the Sarawak Alliance in a Coalition Government.
The SUPP drew its support from the Chinese community. Political reality also persuaded PESAKA, a Dayak based political party with its main following among the Iban of the Rejang basin to join the Coalition, leaving the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in the opposition. The second, was the appointment of Abdul Rahman Ya’kub as Chief Minister. Rahman Ya’kub had the ear of the Federal leadership.
Rahman Ya’kub had been a member of the Federal Cabinet under Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister. He was a popular Minister of Education, when he introduced a new National Education Policy, the main thrust of which was the use of Malay as the medium of instruction in schools. While Ningkan, and even Tawi Sli, were not regarded as sufficiently committed to promote a Malay centric policy and administration that was expected by the Federal leadership, there were no such concerns with Rahman Ya’kub. As Chief Minister, he was given a free hand to administer Sarawak, and from that time, the Federal and State Governments enjoyed a very close relationship which continues to this day.
Malayanisation of the state
Those of us in the civil service could feel the marked difference in the tempo of things. Rahman’s confident hands were clearly in evidence. One of the decisions he made early in his term was to abolish the common entrance examinations at the end of primary six. Prior to that, Government policy was to provide universal education up to primary level. Only the top 30% of primary six leavers could continue to secondary schools. That resulted in further entrenching the ethnic imbalance in education opportunities, at the expense of the rural population.
Rahman also took over as Director of Operations, giving him more than adequate power to handle issues of security and in 1973 he persuaded the leaders of the terrorist group to accept the offer of an amnesty.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Oct 21, 1973, with Bong Kee Chok, the Political Director of North Kalimantan People’s Party, at the Residency in Simanggang. To mark the occasion, Simanggang was renamed Sri Aman meaning abode of peace. On March 4, 1974, Bong Kee Chok and 482 of his followers surrendered. In the politically correct term used at the time, they “rejoined society”.
Some in Sarawak, particularly among the Dayaks, felt somewhat disenchanted with what they saw as accelerated Malayanisation of the State, under Rahman Ya’kub. Some, myself included, resigned from the civil service, joined SNAP, took part in the elections in 1974, with the slogan of Sarawak for Sarawakians. We did well in the Dayak heartland (winning 18 seats out of 48 seats for Council Negeri). But again, as in the case of the SUPP and PESAKA in 1970, practicalities convinced SNAP to join the Barisan Nasional in 1976.
With less distraction from issues of security and politics after 1976, attention shifted towards the work of physical development. It is fair to say that the work of development really started with momentum from the mid-1970s onwards and the pace of development has continued to be accelerated in the last thirty years. As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations, the Sarawak State Government has put up a public exhibition at the old Court House in Kuching, now used by the Tourism Board.
The exhibition highlights the level of development that has taken place in the last 50 years – from the number of schools, the level of medical coverage, the incidence of poverty, the kilometres of roads, the coverage of electricity, the economic change from subsistence farming to modern agriculture, the increase in manufacturing and export, the development of palm oil plantations.
According to the Department of Education record, there were a total of 17, 727 pupils in secondary schools in 1963, with a pronounced ethnic disparity. 16.3% of the school age Chinese population were in secondary school compared to 3.8% of the Malays and only 1.8% of the Dayaks and other natives.
This ethnic imbalance seriously inhibited the indigenous people from opportunities in the civil service and other professions. Since 1964, among the early benefits for Sarawakians, was the opening of more government secondary schools. These schools provided opportunities for young people, including those from the indigenous groups, to pursue further studies, making it possible for children of ordinary people, the fishermen, the smallholder farmers, the shopkeepers, to become doctors, engineers, economists, teachers and managers.
By 2011, there were (1,273 primary schools) 189 secondary schools, 7 technical secondary schools in Sarawak, compared with (1,270 primary schools), 91 secondary schools and 3 technical secondary schools in 1980. The total number of teachers in primary, secondary and technical schools also increased from 5,847 in 1970 to 40,058 in 2011. In 2010, there were also 110 public and private institutions of higher learning and training institutions in Sarawak, catering to total enrolment of 55,893 students. In 1970, there were 12,203 people per doctor. By 2010, the ratio was 1,987 per doctor.
In 1963, Sarawak had a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of RM550 million and a per capita income of RM688. At the end of 2012, it had a GDP of RM106 billion and a per capita income of RM42,000. According to the Chief Minister, Sarawak has a reserves of RM30billion now, and an Annual Development Expenditure of about RM3billion. The poverty rate which was stated at 31.9% in 1985 has gone down to 2.4% last year.
According to the figures from the State Government, 83% of the population enjoy the convenience of 24 hours supply of electricity. In 1963, there was a total of 1,709 Kilometres of roads. By 2013, the total has increased to 18, 285 kilometres.
These statistics are impressive.
Plenty of development
Sarawak’s population of about 2.5 million, and visitors to the state, where recorded arrivals were about 6.4 million in 2011, would be able to see some of these physical developments. Out of this figure, more than four million are Malaysians from other states, reflecting an increased contact among ordinary Malaysians. Kuching is today a thriving city, though still retaining its easy pace. In 1963, it was confined to the main bazaar area, the shops along Padungan road, the Malay kampung between the mosque and the old suspension bridge at Satok road. It is now a sprawling city, spread on both sides of the Sarawak River, with houses stretching from Santubong to beyond the airport at 7th mile.
The shophouses along the main bazaar are still there. Reflecting the needs of the time, many of the shops are no longer selling sundry items but are now selling Arts and Crafts, or have been converted into small hotels, to meet the interest of the tourist market. The godowns by the waterfront have been replaced by a pleasant landscape of the Waterfront Esplanade. The Astana still stands, but (the facade whitewashed) the ivy at its tower has been removed, and a twin constructed. The new Council Negri building, its architecture a blend of Middle Eastern and Melanau influence, is an iconic structure that dominates the river bank, completely dwarfing Fort Margherita.
Just 10 days ago, the Astana and the new Council Negeri building, were both illuminated with a display of fireworks as Sarawak celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Independence as part of the Federation of Malaysia. The Fort is being renovated, in a joint initiative between the Brooke Heritage Trust and the Sarawak Museum and is to be converted into a gallery for historical artefacts from the Brooke and British Colonial eras.
Bintulu enjoys the advantage of location. Its previous reputation for belacan (shrimp paste), a dish popular with local Sarawakians, though perhaps not with former colonial officers, has been replaced with being the centre for the development of the off shore gas and LNG Plant, as well as the wood-based industry along the Kemena River.
Further North is the new port development of Simalanjau, which has been rebranded as Samalaju. This area is earmarked as a centre for the development of heavy industry. My own favourite town, Miri, familiar to me as a teenaged student at Tanjong Lobang School in 1958-1959 has also grown not just because of Shell Oil Company, but also because of the presence of the national oil company, Petronas, and oil palm plantations along the road between Miri and Bintulu.
Early last year, my wife and I, together with English friends Noel and Christy Page-Turner drove from Kuching to Sibu, and on to Mukah, stopping at Sri Aman (formerly Simanggang) where we stayed at the Government Guest House. The belian hard wood structure of its original construction still stands, the same building that Resident Page-Turner, Gregory’s and Noel’s father lived in, when he was Resident in Simanggang in the 1920s, and where Rahman Ya’kub and Bong Kee Chok signed the MOU in 1973 that ended the communist terrorist activities in Sarawak.
The old wooden bazaar at Lingga where Dato’ Erik Jensen spent his first night in the then Second Division, I think in 1960, is still there. One can now drive there from Sri Aman. When we went there, the work on resealing the road was on-going. The local villagers we passed along the way were busy harvesting palm oil fruit bunches.
One can also drive from Sibu to Mukah, and also from Sibu to Tanjong Manis, which you may remember as Tanjong Mani. Tanjong Manis is intended to be a hub for the Halal food industry. I am happy to say that at some stage I was involved in getting some of the road-building works underway, particularly the stretches between Sri Aman and Sibu and between Sibu and Miri, and the first bridge crossing the Rejang River at Durin, in my role as Minister of Public Works between 1989-1995. This main trunk road now requires some upgrading to meet the demands of increased traffic as more people are able to travel in their own cars.
Let me hasten to say, however, that I am not speaking on behalf of the government, though for some years I was part of the government. I was in the State Cabinet in Sarawak between 1976 to mid 1978 and was in the Federal Cabinet between 1978 to March 2004.
And, for the impressive statistics of development that has taken place, one is always reminded of the proverbial story of the Elephant and the Three Blind Men.
Things can be better
Last month (Aug 23-24, 2013), the Sarawak Dayak Cultural Foundation held a symposium in Sibu, in part to get a feel of Iban perspective on what has been achieved in the last 50 years. The participants were from mixed backgrounds – academics, politicians, community leaders, civil servants – but by and large pro-establishment. Yet, the main impression from that symposium was that, while overall much had been achieved from the perspective of the State, through Iban eyes things could have been better for them. That would be the same for the Bidayuh, the Kayan, the Kenyah, the Kelabit and other Orang Ulu communities.
Better quality teachers and better facilities are needed for rural schools so that, rural children can have a real chance in education. The legacy of ethnic imbalance in access to good education facilities and quality teaching is yet to be effectively bridged. Travellers from Sibu to Kapit continue to depend on the river, using the “Express” boats of the type you see in Joanna Lumley’s 1991 BBC programme “In Search of The White Rajahs”.
Rural longhouses are now built in more solid materials but many are yet to be provided with piped water or grid-connected power supply (including my own). The challenge to bring much needed infrastructure and sustainable economic activity to the rural areas remains very much a work in progress. Compared to the Peninsula, Sarawak has a lot of catching up to do.
Let me say, however, that the State Government acknowledges this. The Chief Minister was quoted in a recent press report as having said “…the expectations that came with the formation of Malaysia still have to be fulfilled… and the achievements over the past 50 years are struggles which are not yet finished…”
And we should not forget the role that Sarawak and Sarawakians play in the overall development of Malaysia. Some Sarawakians occupy important positions in government, in Cabinet and other government agencies and in business, bringing along with them their own take on national issues.
Those who have visited Kuala Lumpur recently or who follow some online news portals are probably conscious of the level of debate on issues of religion and ethnicity, particularly in Peninsula Malaysia, in the Malaysian media at the moment. Some rather unsettling and narrow views find wide coverage, on the sort of debate that fortunately remains alien to Malaysians in Sarawak and Sabah.
A returning visitor to Sarawak will of course also notice more women in Islamic head dress in 2013, than in 1963. When my late mother first visited Kuala Lumpur in 1976, she thought she was seeing a number of nuns walking in the street. One never saw in public places any woman in “tudung” in Sarawak at that time. The Islamic dress code that spread across the Muslim world following the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1978 has also reached Sarawak.
But Sarawak’s more plural background, where no single ethnic or religious group has a complete majority, provides for a moderating influence. Sarawak’s tradition of a relaxed relationship among its different communities and religious groups continues to define the Sarawak character, an attribute that Sarawak can be proud of and one that Sarawakian (and also Sabahans) can share with their brothers and sisters across the South China Sea.
Looking back, for all the shortcomings and the expectations that are yet to be fulfilled, Sarawak’s decision in 1963 to be part of the Malaysian Federation was right. By and large Sarawak and Sarawakians have travelled well in the last 50 years. There are gaps and imbalances in development, particularly for the rural areas and rural communities, that have to be seriously addressed. We have adapted to the expectations of the new while retaining some influences of the past, including those of the Brooke and the British colony.
The initial phase of our Malaysian journey was very much a period of adjusting to the dynamics of the Federal system where the aspirations of the State at times were at odds with the expectations of a Central Government determined to impose its role. That testy relationship was compounded by the need to contend with the threat of security, first from Sukarno’s Indonesia, then by the North Kalimantan Communist Party and the Pasukan Rakyat Kalimantan Utara (Paraku). Both these two main hurdles were cleared in the 1970s.
The close relationship between the federal and the state governments that followed, allowed for the development phase of Sarawak to gather momentum to the stage that is seen today. The ordinary people get along well with each other. Moderation continues to be mainstream in Malaysian public opinion, despite the antics of some politicians. Sarawak and Sarawakians are now involved not only in events in the state but also should play an increasing role in shaping the future of Malaysia as a moderate plural society that is comfortable in living its diversity.
This is Leo Moggie’s speech at the AGM of the Sarawak Association at the Royal Overseas League, London, on Sept 27.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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