Will You Celebrate Or Commiserate On Malaysia Day


 



Peninsular Malaysia gained independence from the British at Merdeka on Aug 31, 1957, but the irony is that it became the new colonisers of Sabah and Sarawak six years later.
It would be interesting to know how the East Malaysians feel about Malaysia Day. Is it a day of celebration or commiseration? If they could turn the clock back, would East Malaysians have agreed to the formation of Malaysia?
How many young Malaysians knew about “Project IC” (or Project M - M for Mahathir) when the demography of Sabah was changed because then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wanted his party to triumph in the general elections? Illegal migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia were given blue identity cards and the right to vote.
Fifty-nine years after the formation of Malaysia, both Sabah and Sarawak still lag behind in just about every area of development. Although Sabah and Sarawak are major oil and gas producers and are rich in natural resources, the people of Sabah are the poorest in Malaysia, Sarawak is the third poorest (Kelantan is the second poorest).
There is rising discontent among both Sabahans and Sarawakians over several issues, such as freedom of religion, allocation of funds for infrastructure, the quality of teachers provided by the Ministry of Education, and the provisions for education and medical care.
Putrajaya does not appear to be listening, so it is therefore natural for many East Malaysians to call for secession from Malaysia. Who would independence benefit the most? Perhaps, it is better to ask, “Who would independence harm the most?”
Malaysia Day is a day of many ironies and many unanswered questions.
The theme for this year’s Malaysia Day celebrations is the fashion of the 1950s and 1960s. The organisers hoped that dressing up in the fashion of that era would help enliven the celebrations this year.
The mini-skirt was introduced during the revolutionary swinging 60s when a political youth movement of teenagers refused to dress like their parents. It makes little sense that Malaysians can wear the mini-skirt, figure-hugging kebayas or short-sleeved cheongsams for just one day, but we are barred from visiting government departments dressed in a similar fashion for the rest of the year.
Performances for this year’s Malaysia Day will also highlight freedom fighters such as Mat Kilau and Rosli Dhobi, who fought for independence from the British and assassinated the governor of Sarawak. Will Chin Peng, who died on Sept 16, and who also fought to be freed of British colonial rule, be remembered?
‘More equal than others’
In Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ‘Keluarga Malaysia’, some families are more equal than others. In my unscientific guess, 93 percent of the nation’s wealth is probably held by seven percent of Malaysia’s most wealthy families.
If a corruption charge is made against a senior politician, we may probably find obstacles thrown our way, which precludes further investigations. Intermarriage between members of political families with members of noble families in our class-conscious society will expose and throw the elite into the negative glare of publicity.
Article 11 guarantees Malaysians freedom of religion, but ask the East Malaysian who lives in Peninsular Malaysia what it was like when his life was made a living hell by the conservative Malays/Muslims during the “Allah” issue debacle.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri YaakobIn Peninsular Malaysia, East Malaysians who attended sermons in Bahasa Malaysia could not pray with the Malay bible, but all this was allowed in East Malaysia. Does God observe geographical boundaries?
When a former education minister visited East Malaysia, he was more concerned about increasing the number of religious teachers for schools in Sarawak. East Malaysians reject the warped interpretation of Islam from conservative West Malaysian Muslims who pollute the minds of young Sarawakians.
When it comes to education, Sarawak leaders have rightly emphasised the importance of English. Many teachers posted to Sabah and Sarawak are sourced from peninsular, and from what many parents allege, many of the teachers can barely speak English, much less teach it.
Parents are also worried that teachers who are found guilty of sexual abuse are transferred to remote locations in Sabah. Rural East Malaysia should not be the dumping ground for criminal teachers.
Vote bank
What has happened about the Sulu sultanate threat? The government seems to have gone quiet about the seizure of Petronas global assets, and what are they going to do about the other threats mentioned by the Sulus? Sabahans are worried, but Putrajaya’s silence does not leave many Sabahans reassured and feeling confident.
It has been 46 years since the Double-Six air crash, which killed several members of the Sabah state assembly, including Fuad Stephens, the Sabah chief minister. Putrajaya rejected requests by Sabah leaders to release the report of the Nomad aeroplane crash. Why?
Fuad StephensThe Australian government will not release their findings either, for fear of upsetting Putrajaya. The people of Sabah and the relatives of the crash victims need closure.
Like their cousins in West Malaysia, East Malaysians are also angry with their leaders, who promote their own selfish interests and not the people’s.
So, how united are we as Malaysians? To Putrajaya, East Malaysians are simply the nation’s vote bank and a source of revenue.
If East Malaysians are unhappy and secede, will the political situation in West Malaysia improve because Putrajaya will have lost its crucial vote bank? What do you think? - Mkini
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army, and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.


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