Sabah: Mahathir’s failed attempt at social engineering


By Erna Mahyuni | The Malaysian Insider

MARCH 6 — To paint the Sabah situation as “virtuous Sabah natives” against “invading foreign terrorists” is far too simplistic.

The reality is as complex as Sabah’s political landscape, enmeshed in history and complicated by the notion of statehood.

Farish Noor explains the complicated history of the various people of North Borneo and the Philippines in his column where he says:

“In the midst of the chest-thumping, saber-rattling jingoism and hyper-nationalism we see rising in both Philippines and Malaysia today, we ought to take a step back and look at ourselves honestly in the face.”

Historically the people of Sabah are a complex mix. With the formation of countries and borders, people who are connected by history and blood are now separated by that thing we call “citizenship.”

Sabah artist Yee I-Lan sums up that divide in one of the pictures from her “Sulu stories” series.

Of the subjects in the photo, Yee says: “One carries Malaysian identity, the other Filipino. They come from the same sea and place and knowledge.”

But while we must acknowledge history, we have to address present realities.

Whatever the Sulu descendants claim, their kingdom is long gone. Their attempt to supposedly reclaim their birthright is now seen as an act of violence.

You cannot resurrect ghosts with blood and threats.

But to people like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia is first and foremost the land of the Malays. Sabah and Sarawak do not fit in with his tidy narrative of the country being led by Malay Muslims.

Dr Mahathir for all his statesmanship could never wrap his head around the fact that in Sabah, Muslims were not always Malay. Nor that the Malay narrative could include non-Muslims.

All you need to do is look over at Bali in Indonesia with its predominantly Hindu and unmistakeably “Malay” population. But then, this is a country where many Malays live in ignorance of, or patently deny that, their ancestors ever being Hindu.

PBS’s defiance of the federal government disturbed the status quo for Dr Mahathir. For him it was unacceptable that Sabah could be led by a Christian indigenous leader instead of a more “acceptable” Malay-Muslim.

His reasoning was to address the “problem” of a non-Muslim native majority by parachuting in more Muslims.

But the problem, Dr Mahathir, is that while the Suluks from the south of Philippines identify themselves as Muslims, they do not call themselves Malay.

Nor are the Bajau “Malay”. Neither are the Muslim indigenous peoples “Malay.”

Dr Mahathir’s poor attempt at social engineering has instead created a dangerous imbalance. The fact is that the Malaysian Sabah state cannot sustain the huge numbers of immigrants from across the border.

There are hardly any jobs for locals. Imagine how slim the pickings are for the many “visitors.”

Once, commerce was fluid and people from the Philippines would come, trade and most importantly, leave. It is when they refuse to leave that we have a problem.

The Philippines are also at fault here for long neglecting its citizens in the south. It is laughable that only now it is “showing concern” for its citizens in the state. If the southern regions of the Philippines were not so economically barren, their citizens would have no need to make livings in Sabah.

How do we go forward from this? For starters, the BN government has to stop the practice of handing out ICs like candy when elections are around the corner.

Both the Malaysian and Philippine governments have to start thinking of the welfare of their citizens, regardless of race or religion. No more meddling in the name of protecting the interests of any race or religion.

Put to rest the ghosts of the Jabidah Massacre and the Sulu kingdom.

History matters. But we can no longer let it dictate our futures.

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  1. #1 by Bunch of Suckers on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 9:56 am

    Failed? NOPE!!! Snaky Bakuthair never fail in anything and did anything wrong, man!!! The snake is perfect in everything!

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 10:05 am

    ///the BN government has to stop the practice of handing out ICs like candy when elections are around the corner.///

    It is too late now – large numbers of illegal immigrants have already got their blue ICs. One day, we will not be able to tell whether they are aggressors or Malaysian citizens!

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 10:19 am

    Why is it when they talk about this, they don’t talk about Mustapha Harun and Harris Salleh as well in the same breath? Is it because its more convenient to focus on Mahathir because he has been larger than life and in our pathetic class of politicians, you take down the chief culprit you take down the rest?

    I am all for making the solution more convenient but seriously Sabah leaders have been and as much part of the problem and without acknowledging that, we don’t recognize the problem and trying to solve with without is not that smart.

  4. #4 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 10:46 am

    The Monster Brand bumiputra baking machine (inventor: monsterO’mamak) is broken beyond repair. Instead of baking fresh bumiputras (to compete with existing ones) the machine now churns out terrorists.

    Umno is the sole custodian and operator of the machine. The only and obvious way to arrest the problem is to throw umno out in GE13 so that the baking ridiculous process (ongoing even today, I suspect) could cease.

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 10:51 am

    Mamak’s race/religion card game goes awry and brings threats to the country.

  6. #6 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 10:57 am

    Umno is in shamble. MonsterO’mamak is fighting hard to keep his past gross misdeeds hidden under the umno carpet. Mooo is fighting hard to get jib off the PM chair. Jib is fighting hard to counter mooo and monsterO’mamak. Now, sulu ppl are fighting hard to claim sabah. Not good for umno. And because of election in the Phillippines, the sabah issue is being politicised by politicians there – all sorts of things could be revealed in consequence. Again, not good for umno.

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 11:00 am

    NOT ONLY large numbers of illegal immigrants hv already got their BLUE ICs n bcome respectable sanitised M’sian citizens (transformation mah), their countless OFFSPRING too hv got BLUE ICs, running around everywhere
    Yes, BLUE, BLUE, BLUE!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiZPmQSQpsk

  8. #8 by john on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 2:35 pm

    All in, this is what MaMak Kutty is looking for A FULL DIVERSIONARY KA-BOOM AND OVERNIGHT THE SENARIO CHANGED – NOW FLUID, PUT HIM BACK IN THE DRIVER SEAT TO EXPLOIT THE PENDING SITUATION FOR OWN SELF PRESERVATION !
    Signs of “smelly hidden rotten fish” :
    - the first detection, official public news, and the prolong, dragging, drawn down ,,,,,,,till now in limbo state !
    - to send in policemen against these hardweather invaders – they, surprised indeed so confident to broadcast all and sundry, SO WEIRD !
    - every known BASICs to contain, counter, eliminate tactics against invaders / ‘intruders’ have to be re-written after such BolehLand actions
    - now, the bombs exploded km away ? and no sign of invaders !!! OUR PLACE, ALL RESOURCES ON HAND, SURROUNDED ???
    ALL SO SO WEIRD !!!
    FOREMOST, THOSE LIFES LOST WHOSE RESPONSILBILTIES NOW !!!

  9. #9 by Loh on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 2:37 pm

    ///Whatever the Sulu descendants claim, their kingdom is long gone. Their attempt to supposedly reclaim their birthright is now seen as an act of violence.///–the author

    There are very few countries in the world where the king continues to rule. Most countries have their king now as constitutional monarch. There serve specific purposes in modern societies practicing democracy.

    The self style Sulu Sultan suddenly decided to claim Sabah. Even if his ancestor had not signed away the right to North Borneo now known as Sabah, he cannot at this age feel that the land and the people living in the state have to respect his rule. Sabah practices democracy. Sulu Sultan is not even a resident of Sabah, else he can stand for election and hopefully become Chief Minister. But he is not Sabahan, or he should have answered to Project M, and become according to Mamakthir a loyal citizen of Malaysia. With his lineage, he might even make it to be CM of Sabah, and become more powerful that Sultan of Sulu even if he had been recognized as such.

    The self-styled sultan clearly missed his chance, now that he has exposed himself. He should have got his group to become ‘naturalized’ citizens. Who knows there may be among the new Instant Malaysians, some former Majesty!

  10. #10 by Winston on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 2:46 pm

    Social engineering?
    What a highfalutin term!
    The whole UMNO/BN business is to fool the Malays with all sorts of supposedly Malay centric schemes so that the top hierarchy can siphon off the wealth of this country.
    Nothing else matters to them.
    That’s why the country can, and do go to the dogs for all they care!!!!!

  11. #11 by rockdaboat on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 3:11 pm

    Now Kutty the old fart (shelf life expired) is trying to blame others for this predicament?

  12. #12 by john on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 3:47 pm

    IS ALL SO ILLOGICAL ! OUR SECURITY FORCES – ARMY, NAVY ARE CAPABLE TO HANDLE SUCH INVADERS / “INTRUSIONS”-what intention, such term ? ; MAYBE NOT TO SAY OUTSTANDING AS NOT FULLY TESTED. BUT, BY THE LOOK AT SEQUENCE OF EVENTS OUR FORCES ARE “PUT IN PLACE/TIME ” TO FAIL !
    AM SURE INVADERS ARE NOT WITHOUT “EYES + EARS” NOT TO KNOW OUR FORCES EVERY MOVES ! AND IT WOULD BE INSULTING TO THEM (these all-weathered men) TO BE “SITTING DUCKS” JUST WAIT TO BE BOMBARDED.
    SO, SO MUCH LEEWAY, AMPLE TIME GIVEN BOTH WAYS ! SO WEIRD !
    (THE POLICEMEN ARE MALAYSIAN FIRST ! THEIR LIFES WERE PRECIOUS, THE “LEADERS” IN CHARGED MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ! FOR NEGLIGENCE ? OR ? )

  13. #13 by john on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Comments #12 meant for preceding article
    ” Doubts emerge over assault……”

  14. #14 by NotBN on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 4:57 pm

    For those older Sabahans they would remember a ‘think tank’ was set up by PBS in 1985. High on their ‘thinking’ list was the already identified problem – illegal immigrants. In fact that was one of the PBS manifesto to tackle the problem, but instead they (and subsequent BN Sabah parties) ended up tacking on the illegal timber industry. The intellectual group spent millions of ringgit thinking about the problem but no solution. Before you vote for another Sabahan politician please find out who the head of that think tank was and his connections with the Sabah BN party then. And perhaps try to contact him to extract some use out of his million dollar research

  15. #15 by Loh on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 5:40 pm

    john :
    IS ALL SO ILLOGICAL ! OUR SECURITY FORCES – ARMY, NAVY ARE CAPABLE TO HANDLE SUCH INVADERS / “INTRUSIONS”-what intention, such term ? ; MAYBE NOT TO SAY OUTSTANDING AS NOT FULLY TESTED. BUT, BY THE LOOK AT SEQUENCE OF EVENTS OUR FORCES ARE “PUT IN PLACE/TIME ” TO FAIL !
    AM SURE INVADERS ARE NOT WITHOUT “EYES + EARS” NOT TO KNOW OUR FORCES EVERY MOVES ! AND IT WOULD BE INSULTING TO THEM (these all-weathered men) TO BE “SITTING DUCKS” JUST WAIT TO BE BOMBARDED.
    SO, SO MUCH LEEWAY, AMPLE TIME GIVEN BOTH WAYS ! SO WEIRD !
    (THE POLICEMEN ARE MALAYSIAN FIRST ! THEIR LIFES WERE PRECIOUS, THE “LEADERS” IN CHARGED MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ! FOR NEGLIGENCE ? OR ? )

    I find it hard to read in capital letters.

  16. #16 by sotong on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 6:14 pm

    The country is permanently damaged by politics of race and religion…..with maybe millions of illegal with instant ICs waiting to cause a huge impact in the country.

    Thanks to the traitors, no one could ignore them for generations to come.

  17. #17 by worldpress on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Bad representative to title list

  18. #18 by tuahpekkong on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 - 9:36 pm

    This social engineering was just a selfish attempt by UMNO to perpetuate its dominant position in Malaysian politics so that its leaders could continue to rob the country with impunity. Sabahans are now suffering as a result of Dr.M’s evil motive.

  19. #19 by Noble House on Thursday, 7 March 2013 - 1:50 am

    And the only way in which the power of the interests can be undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public the danger of its indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is indifferent to danger where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent.

    “It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.” Albert Einstein.

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