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‘It’s Malaysia only in name’

 | June 17, 2012

The powers-that-be in Peninsula Malaysia believe it is the natural order of things to treat the 'Peninsula as the real Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak as appendages' of the nation.

COMMENT

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with a group of professionals, including a Malay lawyer in Bangsar and I asked them if they knew of the various political developments in Sabah.

They knew almost nothing. The lawyer said he had never heard about opposition STAR (State Reform Party) or its clarion call ‘Ini Kali lah’, which incidentally is now rolling off every child and adult tongue in Sabah.

Obviously, their knowledge about political developments is limited to just West Malaysia. I can’t really blame them.

Here, I was only two and a half hours away from my home but I was completely cut off from any news or developments in Sabah.

This got me asking many questions about my country.

Take for instance  TV3′s Malaysia Hari’s programme aired every working day. It rarely, if ever, refers to any Sabah or Sarawak paper.

Going to the newspapers sold in the streets of Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t do any good either, as all the newspapers cover only peninsular news – even the pro-opposition ones!

Why are national news so peninsula Malaysia-centric?

Why are Sabah and Sarawak still considered the nation’s backwaters half a century after the formation of the federation?

It can’t be that our national leaders, including those from Sabah and Sarawak, think that the two states are not important.

No excuse for exclusion

I believe it is  just a case of old habits being perpetuated without the leaders and establishment being fully aware of it.

Which means even if  Pakatan Rakyat wins the next elections, the situation in in media news coverage in Malaysia won’t change.

It will still be done the same way – national news is only what comes out of Peninsula Malaysia!

News from Sabah and Sarawak – well, it will just be an appendage.

The powers-that-be in Peninsula Malaysia seem to believe this ‘system’ to be a natural order of things.So they continue to treat the peninsula as the ‘real’ Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak as appendages of the nation.

They believe that news from these two states are not really important enough for the people of West Malaysia – unless it is news about a shocking development.

In this age of instantaneous electronic transfers, the distance of Sabah and Sarawak from KL is no longer an excuse for the exclusion of news from these states.

But the imbalance continue to persist.

At times when our newspapers are quoted, the news selected are social news and not political news, as if even pro-Barisan Nasional political reports from Sabah are taboo, or too sensitive, for general family viewing.

Is it because the news from Sabah and Sarawak is too sensitive and damaging to politicos here?

Ignorance plaguing West Malaysia

This malaise has been one of the causes of the severe limitations in social interactions between Malaysians in the Peninsula and Malaysians in Borneo.

It makes us wonder why this problem hasn’t been addressed under the National Integration and National Unity programs.

The federal government should realize that this arrangement, this disparity or imbalance of news is to the serious disadvantages of the people in West Malaysia.

Sabahans know a lot about West Malaysia, while the people of the peninsula know very little about Sabah and Sarawak!

So how is this imbalance, this discrimination against Borneo news, beneficial to the West Malaysians?

If it’s true that knowledge is power, then the West Malaysians are the weaker partner in the whole arrangement while we are the superior ones!

To prove this, just go to KL and engage some ‘educated’ people in a discussion on the matter and you will realize how ignorant they are about the real Malaysia.

Many West Malaysians say quite proudly that they have never visited Sabah as if it is an achievement to be arrogant about!

I normally take such an opportunity to educate them on a thing or two about Sabah.

Because of the gap in news coverage in the country, Malaysia is skewed information-wise.

Something must be done about this disparity or discrepancy, especially under the National Transformation Program.

For the sake of 1Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak should be given the same national news stature and on a daily basis.


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