Bitter harvest for land below the wind

Myles Togoh | June 4, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

Kaamatan or harvest festival in Sabah this time round is tempered with weariness and to some extent anger over the way genuine Sabahans have been treated.


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is holding its collective breath as talk gathers steam that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is expected to visit this week bearing a long-awaited “gift” to drum up support for his stumbling Barisan Nasional coalition government.

But the mood among non-partisan Sabahans as the Kadazandusun and Murut communities celebrate their biggest festival is a mixture that suggests bad temper and weariness.

Najib, as the leader of the BN who is fighting to stay in power for a second term, has, as expected, played the federal government’s vote-buying trump card by announcing on Friday the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the extraordinary population increase in the state over the last 20-odd years.

It is to settle a long-held demand for answers on how hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants gained citizenship and even special Bumiputera privileges that have almost wrested control of the state from the locals.

Najib is due in the state during an auspicious time for the local community. The Kaamatan or harvest festival celebrations started last week.

While the festival itself is a time of merry-making and fellowship, especially in the kampung, this year’s celebration comes with a bitter edge.

“There’s this general air of change in the state like what we saw when PBS came to power,” said Charles, a retired civil servant who has witnessed the various political and social changes taking place in Sabah from the time it was a British colony.

“It’s the feeling I get… like when PBS won,” he said, referring to the shock overthrow of the Berjaya government under Harris Salleh in 1985 by the newly-formed PBS [Parti Bersatu Sabah] under the leadership of Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

“I get this feeling even though I don’t go out much anymore. I even saw a car with a sticker saying ‘Ini Kali lah’,” said Charles, who admitted that he usually voted for the ruling coalition in the past.

“It’s different this time. These people are so arrogant. They will say anything to escape from criticism… it’s not logical.”

RCI may mean nothing

He is referring to statements by government leaders explaining events and incidents that people are now privy, too, with the advent of the social media and online news portals.

Charles is not alone. Others have piled up the criticism with phrases like: “Harap ini kali lah” (hopefully this time) and the Chinese have decided “anything can happen… we threw out the BN before.”

“They have seen how the government has given illegal immigrants in Sabah privileges that were for Bumiputeras. They can say ‘no’ but I personally know many who even have ASN (a profitable investment fund open only to natives),” said a doctor working at a government hospital.

Confidence is low that the RCI and its “terms of reference” will right a situation that was welcomed by those in authority for years in order to change the social structure of the state.

Simon Sipaun, a former state secretary and vice-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, in comments made recently believes the royal commission is just a bit of plaster for a fatal wound.

Like many others, he asked why after years of denial the federal government has just realised there is a big problem in Sabah and also the timing of that realisation.

As Sabahans wait for Najib to come bearing gifts and other what-nots, the sobering thought lingers for most: a toothless RCI serves no purpose other than to acknowledge that the federal government is looking into the problem but it still going to lose its state.

  1. #1 by Winston on Monday, 4 June 2012 - 2:08 pm

    Just dump UMNO/BN no matter what they promised or do.
    Remember, their main purpose in staying in power is to prevent anyone from prosecuting them for the endless corruption, scams and scandals ever since they are in power.
    As far as money is concerned, remember that it’s the taxpayers’ money and if they splurge them on the voters to gain votes, it’s illegal.
    And any laws they promised to changed or indeed changed, can easily be reversed when they are in power.

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 4 June 2012 - 4:44 pm

    RCI for Sabah illegal immigrants is too little, too late, too stale a tall-tale.

    Soory Najib, the land below the wind will show you a real typhoon the likes of which you have never seen.


  3. #3 by Winston on Monday, 4 June 2012 - 5:20 pm

    These people will do anything to stay in power.
    Including selling their mothers.

  4. #4 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 4 June 2012 - 6:42 pm

    khazanah divesting property company.
    PNB divesting 5 to 10 profitable companies?

    Just a quick non-seditious question: are the beneficiaries only UMNO Bumiputras? What about Kadazans, Ibans, Orang Asli who may want to buy them.

    Hello, Najib, dengar tak? Buat open tender or face the wrath of non-UMNO Bumiputras.

  5. #5 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 4 June 2012 - 10:26 pm

    See Mahathir has selective amnesia again. Here he goes: “I have very little knowledge of Project IC”.

    OK, Doc, let’s just start with what little you know. That is a lot more than what Malaysians know. So tell us how you did it; how you allowed all those illegals ‘converted’ into Malaysians with more rights than third- & fourth- and fifth-generation Malaysians.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 5 June 2012 - 8:57 am

    The real bottom line really is UMNO-Perkasa/BN has no intention of EVER fufilling the Malaysian Agreement. The intent from day 1, even Tunku, was never to allow Sabah their independence which Mahathir, given his xenophobia, kicked into overdrive to colonise Sabah as a Malay state (ever wonder why Labuan has a Federal Territory but no other state outside of Selangor?).

    The only reason why anything is being acted along now is because UMNO-Perkasa/BN is desperate. UMNO-Perkasa/BN is fundamentally INSINCERE about what they do for Sabah. The relationship of Sabah with UMNO-Perkasa/BN is dysfunctional – for both sides. The only solution is divorce no matter what the price..

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 5 June 2012 - 9:37 am

    WHAT bitter harvest? WHAT anger?
    MMK, NR, Mooo n UmnoB kaki just chuckle n then larf loudly: WHAT ME WORRY abt them Sabahans n Sarawakians!? Just give them RM5 or a bag of potatoes or a bottle of tuak, they will kwai kwai vote 4 UmnoB/BN 1 lah
    Fixed deposits maaaaahh, WHAT ME WORRY

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