Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Merging of three partners

Brave New World (The Star)
18 September 2013

This is reflected in the 18 and 20 point agreements that Sabah and Sarawak made when they decided to join Malaya and create Malaysia as well as the many special provisions put into the Constitution to cater to them.


I HOPE you had a good relaxing Malaysia Day break because I certainly did. Apart from the welcome two public holidays in close succession, the celebrating of Independence Day and Malaysia Day is one of those wonderfully weird things that make Malaysia unique.
It takes a bit of explaining to the non-Malaysian that’s for sure. I for one, embrace it.
I am very glad that Sabah and Sarawak decided to join with Malaya and create Malaysia. I like having these two states as part of the family.
The few times I have been to the East, have all been great fun. I would like to explore more of course, in particular I would like to visit the interior and experience life outside the big cities.
However, I don’t think I ever will because I don’t want to do so as a tourist.
There is something uncomfortably voyeuristic and slightly condescending when outsiders go to a village or a long house to watch the lives of “exotic” people. So, unless I’m invited by a mate to his home, this is one trip that isn’t going to happen.
Be that as it may, like I said earlier, I am very pleased that Sabah and Sarawak are there. I am not sure if our brothers and sisters over the South China Sea feel the same way though.
There is, I believe, some deep resentment towards Malaya. This takes the form of the material in the shape of natural resources that disproportionately comes this way, and the more ethereal, like the perceived lack of respect shown towards them.
I can understand such feelings. Although Sabah and Sarawak are listed as “states” of the Federation in the Constitution, they actually had the potential to be independent countries before they decided to form Malaysia with Malaya.
As such there is a justifiable belief that what Malaysia is, is more akin to a merging of three equal partners.
This is reflected in the 18 and 20 point agreements that Sabah and Sarawak made with Malaya as well as the many special provisions put into the Constitution to cater to them.
In 1963 there was a concern that Sabah and Sarawak were going to be overrun by Malayans and thus they would lose their identity and their autonomy. The agreements and the Constitutional Amendments were meant to ensure this did not happen.
In order to ensure that the peoples of the two Borneo states remain happy within this little Federation of ours, there is a need to revisit the implementation of the agreements and the Constitution.
Sabah and Sarawak, historically and legally, are not like the other states of this nation and thus need to be treated as such. A deal is a deal as they say.
On the more intangible issue of respect there has to be awareness on the part of Peninsular residents of just how much our Eastern cousins contribute to the wealth of the nation, economically and culturally. And this has to be done in a manner that is more than just skin deep and without the usual condescension thank you very much.
For this to happen, we need to hear the story of Sabah and Sarawak and their relationship with Malaya, from Sabahans and Sarawakians.
Maybe it has happened somewhere but I am just ignorant of it. If so, it would be great if someone would point it out to me, because it is criminal that I know so little of the two states without whom Malaysia cannot even exist.

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