With all the political fiasco and moral policing that has been happening in the west (Malaya) recently, one of the most common comments from my fellow Sarawakians is how these things will never be an issue in Sarawak or even how good would Sarawak be if we were never part of Malaysia.

There is truth to that statement and I for one has been vocal about how our state has not gotten our fair share from the Malaysian Agreement that our forefathers in their own foresight signed to put our state in the trajectory of development. However, instead we have been short-changed, used, and milked dry of our resources to further expand the interest of our cousins in the west.

This dissatisfaction birthed the whole state nationalist sentiments ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ to in a sense instill regionalist pride among ourselves and the conviction to demand autonomy to run our state the ‘Sarawak Way’. I for one understand why this sentiments is gathering momentum and popularity because when I first heard of it, I also echoed their sentiments.

State nationalism is a good thing, pride for our own state is essential, and knowing where we come from is vital. But after thinking deeper, I do wonder, have these sentiments been wisely used in our current Malaysian political scenario?

Sentiments controls the interest of people, and sentiments divide. It is the same tactics Umno and even PAS are playing with the racial/religious cards to divide people and somewhat bend them to their will. I am not suggesting that ‘S4S’ is a bad sentiment, but just try dissecting its long-term effects as well as timing of the movement.

Recently, the ‘S4S’ movement have even demanded that we kick out all west political parties including the major three; DAP, PKR and PAS (which is actually non-existent). Who has all to gain from this move? Basically they are wiping out the opposition. Adenan Satem is a smart man. Why do you think he is probably the biggest supporter and face of this movement?

May I suggest that it is not the origin of the political party that should matter, but the ‘cause’ it is fighting for is what our focus should be upon. Fact is, a lot of Sarawakian local political parties have not taken care of the welfare of our very own people but rather playing their political games to gain power and to get a cut of the pie of our state’s rich resources.

Just see the games SUPP and UPP have been playing these past few months and when their leaders tried justifying it by saying it’s to serve the interest of the people, I kinda puked in my own mouth. Then the question for us to ponder is do we trust these local parties to spend the same amount of zeal fighting for their own benefit fighting for the state and our very own interest?

My issue with this is that the sentiments might in the right place, but for me its long-term effect might be devastating. Let’s face it, Sarawak will not achieve secession in the near future like many hope to achieve. So our actions or vote will still determine the future of Malaysia as a whole, and the political atmosphere of the west will still affect us.

Don’t let these sentiments cloud us

Through these sentiments, BN component parties will have everything to gain, and the opposition has everything to lose. Do not let these sentiments cloud us for other essential issues in our nation and strengthen a proven corrupt regime who has already messed up the country.

I personally do not think it is a coincidence these sentiments are gaining momentum so close to the state elections. It could be a political play, it may not be as well, but let us be careful that state pride will not be hijacked as a political ploy to stay in power.

Adenan Satem in now saying all the right things. I would like to emphasise that it is up to us to keep check that he walks the talk even after the elections. My hope is that down the line, the legacy of our local political parties will not just be to pride ourselves in keeping out western parties (Umno, etc), but actually building our state and allocating its riches responsibly to its people.

I for one am a firm believer of the future of my own state. I am in fact for the sentiments of state pride, but not for these sentiments to be hijacked to strengthen a corrupt regime. May I suggest again, that instead of pushing for ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’, I personally prefer if we all push for ‘Sarawakians for Sarawak’.

This ideology instead challenges us Sarawakians to give back to our state whether in politics, economics, education and every other major spheres of influence. Sarawakians, in political parties no matter where its origin, claiming autonomy to run things in our own state which we know the best.

Sarawakians, who will continue to push for autonomy and betterment in education to educate our young, Sarawakians who will do our best in whatever work that is given to us and not take shortcuts, and most importantly Sarawakians who will not exploit the riches of our land for the interest of self.

Instead of just saying “all these will never happen in Sarawak”, show them and exemplify how it should be done that others will ask “what would Sarawakians do?” in moments of crisis.

As we celebrate Sarawak’s independence, let us make sure we will not be chained by any sentiments that will hinder us from the bigger picture. Short-sightedness has caused our state enough damage already.

Dum Spiro Spero - ‘While I breathe, I hope.’

Agi idup agi ngelaban! Happy 52nd Sarawak Independence Day!