P’sula folks who don’t think as Malaysians, Tun
Published on: Sunday, August 25, 2019
By: Datuk John Lo
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TUN M has urged Sarawakians and Sabahans to think as Malaysians to which I totally support on 16 August 2019. I cannot speak for politicians. For myself and many fellow Sabahans, we are proud to be Sabahan Malaysians. 

Actually, the problem of not thinking Malaysian is a lot more acute in west Malaysia than in Sabah.

If I may be allowed to point out, we in Sabah are extremely uncomfortable with West Malaysians not thinking Malaysian like Sabahans , judging from the daily bigotry racial and religious statements, threats of death that are being regurgitated by politicians, political NGOs, religious persons and individuals, frequent protests and demonstrations over slightest things. Don’t they have better things to do? 

These are among the most unMalaysian behaviour in our multi-racial/religious country. We Sabahans don’t do this.

Divergent views and sensible/civilized debates are no longer possible. If these people are thinking as Malaysians, why would they hold such extreme negative views and think or wish bad things for other Malaysians? 

There is too much fighting over race and religion–little focus on substantive economic and education issues as a result of which, our country has been falling behind in economic progress. West Malaysians have become our biggest economic laggards, dragging our country down. The West Malaysian political/social ambience has gone so toxic that it may eventually tear the country apart.

Malaysia’s future can only be bleak if Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin for whom I used to have a lot of respect and who is supposed to be a well-educated moderate can talk about Malaysia for Malays, China for Chinese, India for Indians. Sadly, Asri is naively innocent or ignobly ignorant. Both “Indians” and “Chinese” are nationalities, not race–just-like Malaysians. Chinese comes from the word China [Central Kingdom], just in case he does not know. China is the name of a country There is no “Chinese race” in China, just like no “American race” in USA. The Hans are the majority race and are known as Han Chinese like Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians or Malaysian Malay. There are literally dozens and dozens of other races or ethnic groups. Last count is 56. This is true for India too. Just google “Chinese race” or “Indian race” for enlightenment on this point.

To us Sabahans, race and religion are non-issues because most families have different races and faiths through years of mixed marriages. In addition, Sabahans are welcoming to other Malaysians. Many Sarawakians and West Malaysians who have settled down here are testimony to our “blue blooded Malaysianess”.

Actually, Sabahans are extremely worried, justifiably so, that West Malaysians may spread their brand of race/religion centric political style to Sabah and destroy our way of life. We do not welcome their unMalaysian brand of racial/religious politics into Sabah.

With respect, I think West Malaysians can learn from us how to be more united and think more as Malaysians. 

For perfect clarity–Sabahans do not harbour intention to be less Malaysian when we complain about lopsided, unequitable, lack of development for Sabah and being “taken for granted” by successive Federal Governments. I fear little contradiction here because it is true. Sabah has been ignored and left way behind in all spheres of economic development.

As Sabahan Malaysians, we have suffered and endured Federal Government decisions that we don’t like without complain. The most poignant one that hurts Sabahans to our inner souls is our gas being pumped to Bintulu for processing into LNG for export when we are being deprived of cheaper energy for household use and for our industrialization. Sabahans are having to endure high electricity cost/frequent black outs. Sabah has so much gas deposits and so little to use for ourselves. This doesn’t make any logical sense at all to Sabahans. With the huge amount of oil and gas within Sabah territory, every house should have direct gas connection and cheap gas to support industries/manufacturing in Sabah. If accorded with such shameful treatment, W Malaysians would probably stage demonstrations daily.

The oil/gas issue is more than just 5pc or 20pc [as promised in PH manifesto] royalty. The Federal government is incumbent and obligated to use gas to promote industrialization in Sabah and not pump it elsewhere for export. 

No mistake about this–Sabahans complain because we have been and are being short-changed and deprived of economic equity. The present model in which Sabahans have meaningless ownership or receive little economic benefits from oil palm and oil/gas is clearly not sustainable. Our leaders are right to be vociferous in their demand for equitable development.

Again, with due respect, I think our leaders, by bringing up the issue of lack of consultations over the UMS VC issue, have been very mild. They could have pointed out more forcefully over the PH government’s gross bias, prejudice against Sabah. The PH government has yet to pay our 40pc share of revenue and 20pc of oil royalty, excuse being lack of fund. On the other hand, it has gone ahead with many multi-billion projects in West  Malaysia. Miraculously, funds have become available for these projects. Only on 17 August 2019 Minister of Finance has boasted strong 2nd quarter DGP growth. So, when will Sabah get our money? Hopefully very soon as Sabah needs funds for development. Adding to our sense of neglect and rejection is that though Malaysia has attracted billions of investments since GE14, what is Sabah’s share? Which investments/projects and how much are coming to Sabah? 

It is a fact–West Malaysians are the favoured sons, Sabahans the adopted sons. Federal leaders should be leaders for all Malaysians, like a fair father to all his children.

Our country can even be better if the PH government can instil into W Malaysians’ mindset to think Malaysian like we Sabahans do. Then there will be peace and harmony. With these attributes firmly in place, Malaysia then can discard racial and religious bigotries, united in a singular endeavour to achieve 1st world status. We cannot quarrel more than we work.

To say the PH government has achieved little since GE14 is not fair comment as there have been outstanding achievements in rule of law, much better transparency and accountability, three most important elements for good governance. There is a distinct willingness to listen to the popular voice. Outstandingly so is Tun M’s latest statement in which he has expressed intense disapproval on Zakir Naik’s recent “old guests” outburst against Malaysian Chinese. I think we are in good hands. Malaysian society is much more open, thanks to PH. My only wish is for Sabah to be treated equitably.

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