16 SEPTEMBER 2015
Fifty-two years after the formation of Malaysia, many of us are trying to find reasons to celebrate the event that our forefathers were part of, and that gave them hope for the future of Sarawak within the new Federation of Malaysia. In the present circumstances, finding good reasons to celebrate is a difficult thing to do.
The 1MBD corruption scandals that have implicated the PM and brought this country international embarrassment, the weakening value of the ringgit, and lately, the resurfacing of the case of the murder of the Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu are but a few reasons most of us feel there is nothing much to celebrate. The severe economic repercussions of the government’s financial mismanagement and the implementation of the GST are forcing some businesses to close down and families are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.
Most disappointing to us all is the planned rally by the racist ‘red-shirts’ to show Malay supremacy on the very day that we are meant to celebrate the coming together of Sabah and Sarawak with Malaya to form a country in which all races are guaranteed equality and fairness. Instead of looking forward to a celebration of the unity of the races, non-Muslims in KL are facing the possibility of racial unrest on that day. Even more galling is the fact that UMNO HQ had directed its divisions to mobilise numbers for this racist rally. Has anybody noticed that the Prime Minister and his ministers have not spoken out against the rally? Half a century on, we are still subject to the divide and rule tactics that have been used by these leaders to hold on to power.
In Sarawak, the indigenous people are still fighting for their native customary rights against the government that has refused to acknowledge their rights, and at the same time misleading the less well informed that the government is actually providing them protection under the spurious s 6 of the Sarawak Land Ordinance. Just last week, TR Sandah had to defend his case in an appeal brought by the state government in the Federal Court. Even on the eve of the Malaysia Day celebrations, the natives of Sarawak have no ease of mind over the ownership of their lands, while the past and present political leaders and their families lead luxurious lifestyles financed through political connections.
Added to that, there is increased realisation among Sarawakians that Peninsula Malaysia has not kept their part of the Malaysia Agreement and that we have been shortchanged for over 50 years. Low oil royalties, unequal budget allocations, poor infrastructure, inadequate healthcare and deteriorating educational standards are but some of our grouses against the Federal government in Peninsula Malaysia.
Therefore, on the eve of the 52nd anniversary of Malaysia day, I have had to ponder on the journey we have been on as a country, as I look for reasons to celebrate. Recalling the hopes of our forefathers for the future of Sarawak and her people, I cannot help but feel that they would be bitterly disappointed at the situation we find ourselves in. Never in their wildest dreams would they have expected that Sarawak, with our rich natural resources, would be among the poorest ‘states’ in Malaysia; that instead of being an equal partner in a Federation of nations, we would be relegated to being a mere state in this country; that our people would be persecuted for practising our religion as our ancestors had done for centuries, and our bibles confiscated; and that our own leaders would allow our lands to be taken from us, causing us to lose our birthright and our livelihood. Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng was perhaps the only one who had the foreboding, as evidenced by his prophetic words in Iban ‘Anang anang Malaysia sebaka tebu, manis di pohon, tawal di hujung.’[“Let not Malaysia be like the sugarcane that is sweet at the head and less sweet at the end”].
So, what reason do we have to celebrate? For me, the answer that shines through is - the people. Whatever political and corruption scandals, financial strife, incompetent and self-serving leaders, natural disasters and other calamities that are thrown at us, and despite the efforts of selfish political leaders to fragment the people by playing the racial card, the ordinary people have remained united, kind and resilient as seen in the recent Bersih 4 rallies, barring a small group of hate mongers in Peninsula Malaysia.
In particular, I celebrate the spirit of my fellow Sarawakians, a people of diverse ethnicity who have lived together for many years in real harmony, respecting and accepting each other’s differences. Most of all, I celebrate the fact that Sarawakians are now growing increasingly aware of our history, and of the rights guaranteed to us by the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal and Sarawak Constitutions. I am heartened that many are beginning to stand up for these rights and there is a resolve that our voices must be heard.
As we journey into the second half of the century as a partner in the Federation of Malaysia, let us all think carefully about what we want for our children. It is obvious that a change is desperately needed if Malaysia is to be saved from UMNO/BN political leaders that are bringing us to ruin. Sarawakians have the chance to take the lead in bringing this change in the upcoming Sarawak elections. I urge you all to say no to BN and give a lifeline to Malaysia and Malaysians.
God Bless Sarawak. God Bless Malaysia.
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan