Waiting for promises made three generations ago

By Leon Donald

SRI AMAN, Sept 16 — As we celebrate Malaysia Day, my thoughts roll back to my 95-year-old grandfather in Sri Aman.

He has shared many a story with me on how his grandmother brought him to Kuching to meet the Rajah in court, reminisce on the hardship during the Japanese occupation and then continue on the tragedies he had to go through during the early days of Malaysia during the Confrontation and Communist insurrection.

Then he would tell me about the hardship of campaigning with his cousin, the Paramount Chief of the Ibans, the late Tun Jugah anak Barieng, trying to convince the Ibans to agree to the formation of Malaysia.

He must be wondering the same as I, why only now, the government declares a public holiday on September 16?

Malaysia was formed 47 years ago, not 53 years mind you as Umno would lead us to believe, and only now there is an urgency to recognize the date.

For the past 47 years, we in Sarawak and Sabah have seen this auspicious date pass by without any fanfare.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Ghazali Shafie used to visit Sarawak frequently in the early ‘60s to convince the indigenous people to join and support the formation of the federation of Malaysia.

Strong were their convictions that by agreeing to join Malaysia, the indigenous people would be living a better life.

We — the indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah are generally categorised as Bumiputera, clustered together with the Malays — however, nowadays I am sad that when leaders in the government, including the prime minister, address the various races in the country, only the Malays, Chinese and Indians are mentioned.

I am always upset when I have to fill forms at government offices. The official myopia regarding the indigenous races of Sarawak is also apparent in a number of forms where applicants have to tick one of the four boxes to identify the racial group they belong to: Malay, Chinese, Indian and Lain-lain.

Is this what we the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak been reduced to: lain-lain and fourth class citizens?

What hope do we from Sarawak and Sabah have in securing government employment if our ethnic identities and names have been omitted from the official records?

Is this present government going to do anything about this?

Will this current administration advocate some form of affirmative action that will help us, the minority in Sarawak and Sabah.

Back then, before the formation of Malaysia, promises were made and study trips were done for the leaders from Sarawak and Sabah, showing them the villages in the Peninsular that had piped water and electricity, promising these developments will all be done in the rural areas once we form Malaysia.

It was these promises that prompted our leaders to campaign vigorously to the people in Sarawak and Sabah to agree to support the formation of Malaysia to the Cobbold Commission and the United Nations Fact Finding Team.

Now we are going into the implementation of the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Many of the leaders that campaigned for the formation of Malaysia have died without seeing piped water, proper roads and electricity reaching their villages and longhouses.

My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water. I hope I do not have to die first before these developments reach my longhouse.

* Leon Donald is a Sarawak DAP member and plans run for the Sri Aman seat in the upcoming state elections.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 10:38 am

    //My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water.//

    Wait lah for another 500 years, Leon Donald.


  2. #2 by Taxidriver on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 10:57 am

    //My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water. I hope I do not have to die first before these develpoments reach my longhouse// – Leon Donald

    Tell your own people and work harder to convince fellow Sarawakians that 47 years of marginalisation by the UMNOB/BN government is enough. However, don’t forget to remind them to be taken in again by Najib who will say ” I am very saddened that a large area of Sarawak is not developed to our expectation due to its vastness. We will do everything we can to speed-up work, and insyallah, everybody will get to enjoy the basic necessities by 2015″

    Remind them also to sleep early the night before polling, lest they go to the polling booth half-awake. If this happens again this time, Mr. Leon Donald, I will feel very saddened to tell this: You will surely have to die first before your people can get electricity and piped water.

    From now until Election Day, may I suggest you keep playing the song by the Bee Gees – Don’t Forger To Remember”

  3. #3 by Taxidriver on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:01 am

    correction: ( 2nd para ) However, don’t forget to remind them NOT to be taken in by Najib ………

  4. #4 by Cinapek on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:16 am

    :..He must be wondering the same as I, why only now, the government declares a public holiday on September 16?…”

    Dear Leon,

    No need to wonder. Elections are due soon and Najib and BN are not so confident of their “fixed deposit ” in Sabah and Sarawak anymore so they are bending over backwards to con the E. Malaysians by “bribing” them with recognition of 16th Sept after 47 years and offering other long overdue developments.

    It is a sad sight to see E. Malaysians struggling to survive on the streets of KL and also trying to eke out a living in Singapore just because their leaders for the last 47 years had sold them out and the two resource rich states’ developments have been neglected and their wealth plundered. But if the E. Malaysians allow themselves to be conned into returning the BN to power in the next GE, then they can expect another 47 years in the dumps of anonymity.

  5. #5 by frankyapp on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:19 am

    It takes 47 years for UmnoB to understand that they cannot simply take for granted to win and form the federal government without the numbers from sabah and sarawak.All these while they have been dreaming of their own 31st August as merdeka day as if Sabah and Sarawak do not exist and wake up only when the result of the 2008 GE realising it’s Malaysia not Malaya anymore. Thanks to the 2008 GE and now Sabahans and Sarawakians can feel proud to celebrate our Malaysia Day on 16th sept. We feel we are finally free from the chain of Malaya and we are looking forward to better changes in days,weeks,months and years to come as partners of this nation ,Malaysia.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:32 am

    Marginalised communities in East Malaysians wait for promises made 47 years ago, whilst those in Semenanjong Malaysia, 53 years ago……

    What is interesting is that throughout these years their concerns are put in backwaters by Ketuanan policies demanded by ethnocultural nationalists to canvass support of the Malay voting bloc. Ethnicentric and race based policies are kept in vogue because of continual factionalism and struggle for power between elites of ruling party using race/religion cards to out manoeuvre their rivals to reach the top of party apex, and once in power uses pluralistic and multiracial motto (whether Wawasan 2020, Bangsa Malaysia or 1 Malaysia) to get the collective Malaysian vote to perpetuate the ruling coalition in power.

    It always works because when one puts large groups of unhappy people down by one’s policies, then the moment you evince and give them a little hope that the policies will be reversed, their hopes become buoyant and they throw their votes in your favour against the hope of change from their depressed condition, never mind whether the reversal actually happens thereafter.

    The method of sqeeze hard (for Ketuanan), relax a little (for Coalition’s victory dependent on broad based multiracial votes), squeeze again and let go a little – is the golden rule of proven success in Malaysian politics….

    Thus in this way TDM by his Bangsa Malaysia & Wawasan 2020 got Non malay votes in 1995 when BN won 162 of 192 contested parliamentary seats in 1995 GE….In this way Pak Lah got landslide support for BN in 2004 GE when he talked of reform (the relaxation of squeeze), and when it didn’t realise due to his accomodation of ethnocultural nationalists demands (the squeeze), Anwar Ibrahim took over with his new politics and got PR to win significant gains in 2008 GE by his “New Politics” supposedly not ethnocentric…And now facing the next GE Najib will fall back on the (relaxation of squeeze) by his 1 Malaysia NEM and GTP as formula for coalition victory but again per trioed and tested methods politrical rivals are falling back on the squeeze method of ethno cutural and centric rhetoric to position themselves to ascend the ladder to take over….

    It is the same game Malaysians are played over and over again by our political elites – 1. the squeeze of ethocentric Ketuanan principles when it comes to their inter-party power jostling and relaxation of pluralistic and multiracial talk when it comes to inter coalition stuggle for national power in GE…

    Thus all are pawns, played in same way, over and over again for those vying for political power…

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:42 am

    Promises are not kept (in part – not wholly)due to our political elites’ taking advantage of the diverse races of Malaysian voters and their needs and insecurities and their continued play of the political game of ‘squeeze and relax’ as outlined above to take advantage, stay in and maintain power.

    The term “political elites” refers at this moment to those in ruling coalition but it need not be so necessarily confined if PR’s politicians play the same when they are in position of power to so likewise.

  8. #8 by dagen on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 11:53 am

    “Many of the leaders that campaigned for the formation of Malaysia have died without seeing piped water, proper roads and electricity reaching their villages and longhouses.”

    You are bluffing. Your chief now owns billions in properties in us, uk and canada. I bet he has private jet too. Not to mention ferraris, etc. No piped water and roads etc. Bah. Going by that I therefore bet you people in sarawak own cayennes and X6s and have large mansions. And in contrast, here in peninsular we have to depend on that highly unpredictable and completely unreliable public transport system – the alternative to getting stuck in perpetual traffic jam. And we claim ownership of a certain volume of airspace and call it home.

    … huh? wot? Not true? No dat aint possible.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 12:45 pm

    ///My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water. I hope I do not have to die first before these developments reach my longhouse.///

    Wouldn’t Najib’s pursuit of a high-income developed Malaysia by 2020 remain a utopian dream?

  10. #10 by undertaker888 on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 1:00 pm

    …“Many of the leaders that campaigned for the formation of Malaysia have died without seeing piped water, proper roads and electricity reaching their villages and longhouses.”//

    Leon, your CM is currently building proper roads, electricity and piped water in USA, Canada, UK and all other countries except to your longhouses using our money and resources.

    they prefer to take care of kwailo’s needs than us, because we are low class. they only need pleasantries and praises from kwailos to make them feel superior.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 2:43 pm

    //“Many of the leaders that campaigned for the formation of Malaysia have died without seeing piped water, proper roads and electricity reaching their villages and longhouses.”//

    I bet they are kicking themselves instead of the football for being so stupid the moment they reach the Big Football Field In The Sky. And also St Peter will be laughing at them for being fools as they pass by the Pearly Gate

  12. #12 by Comrade on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 2:45 pm

    “Waiting” reminds me of a song titled “A new day has come” by Celine Dion, the first 4 lines of the lyrics being

    “I was waiting for so long
    For a miracle to come
    Everyone told me to be strong
    Hold on and don’t shed a tear…..”

    Leon, the miracle has began starting with the 2008 political tsunami and then the Sibu by-election miracle.
    Be strong, hold on and don’t lose hope.
    Educate the rural folks ignorant of the bad news about the ruling regime.
    Together lets vote in PR come GE13 to usher in a new day, a new beginning, a better Malaysia.

  13. #13 by k1980 on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 3:16 pm

    //before the formation of Malaysia, promises were made and study trips were done for the leaders from Sarawak and Sabah, showing them the villages in the Peninsular that had piped water and electricity, promising these developments will all be done in the rural areas once we form Malaysia.//

    Hey, those fools should had watched John Wayne cowboy movies. Those were exactly the tactics the cowboys used to trick the native american indians into giving up their land and then forcibly moved into reservations

  14. #14 by Loh on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 4:14 pm

    Comparing Mahathir’s words with what Lee Kuan Yew said.

    ///14. Till today the racist slogan “Malaysian Malaysia” is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore’s membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been “turfed out” Malaysia would have no racial problem?///–Mahathir

    ///Q (by Seth Mydans, New York Times): “Let me ask a question about the outside world a little bit. Singapore is a great success story even though people criticize this and that. When you look back, you can be proud of what you’ve done and I assume you are. Are there things that you regret, things that you wished you could achieve that you couldn’t?”///

    ///Mr Lee: “Well, first I regret having been turfed out of Malaysia. I think if the Tunku had kept us together, what we did in Singapore, had Malaysia accepted a multiracial base for their society, much of what we’ve achieved in Singapore would be achieved in Malaysia. But not as much because it’s a much broader base. We would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic situation. Now we have a very polarized Malaysia, Malays, Chinese and Indians in separate schools, living separate lives and not really getting on with one another. You read them. That’s bad for us as close neighbours.”///

    Loh: LKY said that the inter-racial relations in Malaysia would have improved. He did not say there would be no racial problem knowing very well that someone who outlived his usefulness is constantly creating racial issues especially now as patron to Perkasa.

    ///Q (NYT): “Well, you don’t have a lot of dissidents in prison but you’re known for your libel suits which keeps a lot of people at bay.”

    ///Mr Lee: “We are non-corrupt. We lead modest lives, so it’s difficult to malign us. What’s the easy way to get a leader down? He’s a hypocrite, he is corrupt, he pretends to be this when in fact he’s that. That’s what they’re trying to do to me. Well, prove it, if what you say is right, then I don’t deserve this reputation. Why must you say these things without foundation? I’m taking you to court, you’ve made these allegations, I’m open to your cross-examination.”///

    ///17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.///– Mahathir

    Loh: The person who put hundreds behind bar under operation lallang not only to silence the opposition but to stop infighting within UMNO had the audacity to question how court in Singapore functions. Hoe else can slanders be settled if not through the court?

    ///Q (NYT): “So leadership is a constant battle?”///

    Mr Lee: “In a multiracial situation like this, it is. Malaysia took the different line; Malaysians saw it as a Malay country, all others are lodgers, “orang tumpangan”, and they the Bumiputras, sons of the soil, run the show. So the Sultans, the Chief Justice and judges, generals, police commissioner, the whole hierarchy is Malay. All the big contracts for Malays. Malay is the language of the schools although it does not get them into modern knowledge. So the Chinese build and find their own independent schools to teach Chinese, the Tamils create their own Tamil schools, which do not get them jobs. It’s a most unhappy situation.”

    Loh: Mahathir wrote 21 paragraphs commenting on LKY’s interview with NYT. But he has not refuted the above observations by LKY.

    ///Mr Lee: “We are social animals. Without that interaction with people, you are isolated. The worst punishment you can give a person is the isolation ward. You get hallucinations. Four walls, no books, no nothing. By way of example, Henry Kissinger wants to speak to me. So I said okay, we’ll speak on Sunday. What about? We are meeting in Sao Paolo at a J P Morgan International Advisory Board. He wants to talk to me to check certain facts on China. My mind is kept alive, I go to China once a year at least. I meet Chinese leaders. So it’s a constant stimulus as I keep up to date. Supposing I sit back, I don’t think about China, just watch videos. I am off to Moscow, Kiev and Paris on the 15th of September. Three days Moscow, three days Kiev, four days Paris. Moscow I am involved in the Skolkovo Business School which President Medvedev, when he wasn’t President started. I promised to go if he did not fix it in the winter. So they fix it for September. I look at the fires, I said wow this is no good.”///

    Loh: Mahathir’s contacts are those with Perkasa and Ibrahim Ali. Yet he said that had he been a “world-president” or some person of that standing he would put currency traders behind bar. Never mind what he wanted to do, but he thinks that he is of world leader calibre. Wonder whether Henry Kissinger would check with him on why there are constant troubles in South Thailand?

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 5:06 pm

    “My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water.” – So sad, still tan ku ku
    MMK might reply nevermind lah, just b proud of my twin towers, Toyol n Taib’s palaces

  16. #16 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 5:13 pm

    Tun Dr Mahathir has just warned of another potential financial crisis and recession similar to that experienced during the 1997 Asian financial crisis arising from attacks from currency speculators, if his offshore trading curbs on the ringgit are lifted.

    This is against backdrop of Najib’s mention in a recent CNBC interview that he was open to the idea of lifting restrictions on the offshore trade of the Malaysian currency if it would help the economy.

    (TheMalaysianInsider, report of 17th September refers).

    Looks like 12 years after asian Currency Crisis, our Ringgit like other NEP’s corporates and assets still requires affirmative action and special protection!

  17. #17 by Loh on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 6:47 pm

    How many currencies in the world are denied trading offshore? Mamakthir said that USA enjoys unfair advantage because US dollar is being used as it is for trade. Wouldn’t Ringgit earn Malaysia unfair advantage to be in the same position as US Dollars? For that ringgit has first to be traded. Is ringgit as weak as the majority of the population in Malaysia who need protection?

    From Mamakthir’s knowledge about economics he wants only barter trade. But even food for Malaysians have to be imported when we have agricultural land in abundance, what commodities have Malaysia to offer, in barter trade? We have so far traded social security for cheap labour in the cheap value added, non-knowledge based labour intensive products for export. May be Mamakthir thinks that Malaysian currency printed on imported papers and with imported machinery is only good enough to fool local residents on the value printed on them. The currency notes do not have the backing by the amount of notes produced. Mamakthir declared in 1998 that ringgit with face value above 1,000 ringgit ceased to be legal tender. Had those huge valued currency notes parked outside been exchanged, and waiting for repatriation?

    Zeti is seen as among the few outstanding central bankers. She must have expressed her opinion on this prior to Najib appearing in CNBC programme. Does the self-style know-all think that he is more competent than Zeti in the field of finance?

  18. #18 by Taxidriver on Friday, 17 September 2010 - 7:10 pm

    Loh #17

    That fella knows everything. He is demi god. Satan made him god of umno to create havoc. When God strikes back, he will be thrown into neraka together with satan.

  19. #19 by johnnypok on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 1:00 am

    No need to wait. You all know what to do when the time comes for you to exercise your voting rights.

    Vote for DAP … Penang boleh, Sibu by-election also boleh

  20. #20 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 1:59 am

    Watch out, Gerakan is plotting 2 take back Penang n Toyol wants Selangor back in GE13

  21. #21 by Taxidriver on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 2:40 am

    boh-liao #20

    With what? Gerakan is now a dead party. As for the Indon Toyol, I hear his name in Selangor stinks …. like a pool of human waste just stirred. The smell is offensive even to the Malays there. Bo kiew liao.

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