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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated on Sept 15, 2021 at 6.30pm by taking out the part where Nanta was misquoted to have said “growing regionalism is worrisome”. DayakDaily apologises for the error.
KUCHING, Sept 12: Human rights activist Peter John Jaban believes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad does not have the right to teach the Borneo States how to feel and behave as the States are trying to speak up and fight for privileges that they deserve as the former prime minister is someone who is indifferent to Sarawak and Sabah.
Peter John was responding to a recent remarks by Dr Mahathir in an interview with Great People Television which was streamed live on Facebook. The former premier had said that Sarawak and Sabah are ‘better off’ being part of Malaysia as the Borneo States have become richer than other Peninsular states after the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Peter John asserted Sarawakians will always put Sarawak first until equality becomes a reality rather than a goal.
He opined it is true that most Sarawakians were proud to be Malaysians before Dr Mahathir sidelined the interests of the Borneo States in the name of race-based power.
Peter John said Dr Mahathir’s dominance of race-based politics was systematically aimed at wiping out regional identity and, simultaneously, allowed Peninsular Malaysia to be in control over the East politically and culturally.
He opined Dr Mahathir, being the one who promoted the notion of ‘bumiputera’, also implemented extreme centering of power within Putrajaya and the Prime Minister’s Office behind calls for the restitution of Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir’s recent statement was met with criticism from several parties including Peter John’s new movement group Sarawakians for Sarawak and also Kapit MP Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi.
Nanta had hit back at Dr Mahathir saying that it was the latter’s own responsibility for the rise of ‘Sarawakians for Sarawak’ sentiments in the State when he shortchanged Sarawak during his administration as the fourth and seventh Prime Minister.
Peter John held that regionalism is the best future for our nation. It would be an antidote to race-based politics and policies that allow divide and rule, as well as all the incredible states of Malaysia to celebrate their own unique history and culture.
It would also allow the Chinese and Indian communities of Malaysia to take their place alongside the indigenous people, the Dayaks and the Malays on an equal basis, he added.
According to Peter John, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction.
“When the national football team still goes by the name Harimau Malaya, Sarawak will cry ‘Ngap Sayot’. When the army retains its Royal Malay Regiment, we will recall the Sarawak Rangers or Iban Trackers. When our oil and gas are pumped into federal coffers, we will demand a single highway. When 60 years of nationhood still tells us that an East Malaysian cannot even make DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) let alone PM (Prime Minister), we will demand why.
“When Hudud Law is mooted, Malaysia’s only non-Muslim majority state will speak out. When policies based on race and religion work to stamp out our individual cultures, we will call out ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ or ‘Sarawakians for Sarawak.” — Dayakdaily