Malaysia is facing not only a crisis of identity but a crisis of survival for the first time since the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963.
The month of April has not been a good month for Malaysia, starting with the GST implementation on April 1, which has caused hardships all-round to Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region; followed by a week of infamy when Parliament “stopped the clock” twice in four days to rush through the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Sedition Amendment Act, both of which attracted universal international condemnation for Malaysia becoming the human rights “black hole” as well as opening the Pandora’s Box of undemocratic, arbitrary and repressive powers and laws.
But looming in the background, there was an even bigger crisis – the crisis of survival for Malaysia as it is intimately concerned with the question as to whether the Malaysian federation, as conceived by the Malaysia Agreement 1963, could survive and flourish or whether it would perish and fail.
In the original Sedition Act amendment Bill, there was the proposal to make any call for secession of any state from Malaysia automatically an offence of sedition – a provision clearly addressed to some minority calls from Sabah and Sarawak.
Although this proposed amendment was subsequently withdrawn, it highlighted Putrajaya’s failure to understand the deep-seated unhappiness of the people of Sarawak and Sabah at being treated like step-children in a whole spectrum of issues in the past 52 years, ranging from poverty and socio-economic development for Sabah and Sarawak, the Borneo-isation or the appointment of Sabahans and Sarwakians to state and federal government posts, Sabah and Sarawak’s share of oil royalties, etc.
But worst of all, was the political game played by UMNO to entice PAS so as to break up Pakatan Rakyat with the lure of Federal government support to the Kelantan PAS government on hudud implementation, which has made the people of Sabah and Sarawak feel that a fundamental provision of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was being violated.
As a result, the unhappiness and resentment of the people of Sabah and Sarawak at Putrajaya had never been so intense and multi-faceted in the past 52 years.
If this national crisis affecting the very survival of Malaysia formed 52 years ago is not given proper attention, then the country is set on very troubled waters in the coming months and years.
(Speech when opening the 1MDB scandal forum featuring DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua in Gelang Patah on Saturday, 11th April 2015 at 2 pm)