Sarawakians choose Sarawak, new Malaysia or not

Hannah Yeoh

Commentary

DEPUTY Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh’s advice to Sarawakians to do away with the Sarawak for Sarawakians sentiment, as it divides Malaysia further, is hard to accept for Sarawakians.

For starters, the decision to box up Malaysians according to their race and religion and then put them into different boxes and clearly label them was a decision made by Ketuanan West Malaysians. School children were asked to fill forms with clearly depicted race and religion columns. While the Malay and Chinese columns were clearly spelt, the Dayak, who form the majority in Sarawak, was lumped together as ‘lain-lain’. Are they not even worthy of an extra column acknowledging their existence in the land called Malaysia?

The originator of the racial-based New Economic Policy (NEP) is none other than our current premier. The prime minister-in-waiting was also a strong advocate of racial politics during his younger days with ABIM. During his tenure as Minister of Finance, he implemented the racial NEP (what Hannah would have coined as a form of discrimination) so rigorously that some Sarawakians were actually beginning to think that West Malaysian Melayu is indeed the rightful Tuan we have in Malaysia.

In West Malaysia, until today, there are still Chinese and Indian students who are being denied entry into some of the local universities, while offspring of Ketuanan Melayu Malaya were given scholarship after scholarship. Children of ‘yang lain-lain’ in Sarawak didn’t stand a chance then and now. Many Sarawakians became who they are today thanks to scholarships from the Colombo Plan. In West Malaysia, other races have to ‘kowtow’ to Ketuanan Melayu. In Sarawak, Sarawakians seem to be at the mercy of Ketuanan West Malaysia.

In Sarawak, issues like recognition of Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) and grants for Chinese schools are not a Chinese problem alone. Unlike in West Malaysia, many Malays and Dayaks send their children to Chinese schools, and that makes it a Sarawak problem. Unlike in Malaya, Sarawak does not have racial nor religious problems.

In Sarawak, the Malays, Chinese, Indians and Dayaks eat together. We allow our non-Muslim friends to eat their pork rice at the same table while Muslim friends enjoy their halal chicken rice ordered from a Muslim stall. In this part of the world, we pray to our gods and not to our neighbours. While Sarawakians pray on our knees, Ketuanan Malaya judges others based on their exposed knees.

So, equating Sarawak to the rest of Malaya is inaccurate. Sarawak is not racially divided. Neither are we religiously divided. Sarawakians choose to identify with Sarawak and opt not to participate in the racial and religious divisions and discrimination practised in West Malaysia. Sarawakians opted to protect our immigration rights that no other states have (Sabah has given up theirs) and also ask Malaya, who has been milking us, to return to Sarawak its rights over our oil and gas resources. Lecturing Sarawakians about the religious and racial divisions we have in Malaysia and using that as the basis for Sarawakians to consider being less regional centric will not work. Sarawakians choose to be regional-based because the oil and gas happen to be located within Sarawak region, and no argument can trick us into giving that up.

The issue of nation-building is not something new in Malaysia. But for all Malaysians to be united, discrimination should be stopped, and since the issue is still hot on Hannah Yeoh’s lips, she might want to pursue the issue of racial discrimination under our Malaysia Baru.

Let’s start with that special approved permits (AP) for the importation of cars in Malaysia. The abolishment of Import Car AP was after all fought with much conviction by the DAP when they were still in the opposition. Should AP not be one of the first to be abolished to avoid the perpetuation of racial segregation?

Abolishment of racial-based economic policies should also be dealt with immediately. Federal procurements should no longer require companies to have Bumiputra status in order to participate in any government tenders — open, selected or restricted. After all, companies owned by other races will be subjected to the same tax regime and will be paying tax to the government, new or old Malaysia.

For all this to happen, a strong political will is required, but how is Malaysia supposed to not discriminate based on race and religion when the political parties themselves are racially and religiously based?

Maybe Hannah could suggest to Pakatan Harapan to set up just one multiracial party.

We hope Johor will be in Hannah Yeoh’s itinerary. If Sarawak for Sarawakians is causing disunity in Malaysia, certainly Hannah has a word or two for Bangsa Johor? — DayakDaily