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‘Confused’ Sarawakians cool to Merdeka Day

 | August 30, 2012

Perhaps there's just no reason to rejoice when you still have no clean water and electricity decades after independence

KUCHING: Sarawakians apparently are more inclined towards celebrating Malaysia Day on Sept 16 than Merdeka Day tomorrow. This is evident in the city and Sibu where this year’s Merdeka celebrations are centred.

The only Jalur Gemilang flags you see are on government buildings and big companies. Unlike in past years, fewer flags are jutting out of shops and donning cars and motorcycles here.

Observers here have pinned the “cool” reception to the Aug 31 Merdeka celebrations on rising awareness of Sarawak real political history and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his Barisan Nasional government’s long list of unfulfilled promises in the state.

Oil- and timber-rich Sarawak is among the poorest states in Malaysia. Alleged land grabs, corruption and power abuse are rife in the state.

Asked about the lack of celebrative air, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said: “Perhaps it is because they have no reason to rejoice when their immediate concerns are their own survival.

“Flying the flag may not be a priority when the state and country have failed to protect their interests and to provide basic amenities such as clean water and electricity, healthcare, education and housing.

“How can we ask them to show patriotism and love of the country by flying the flag when the state is party to land grabs and the country does not speak up against the abuse of power?.

“Honestly, I cannot blame them for their lack of interest…”

‘Don’force patriotism on people’

In recent weeks there have been intermittent appeals by politicians urging Sarawakians to fly the Jalur Gemilang and show their patriotism.

They claimed it will encourage and instil patriotism among the young. But the calls have apparently fallen flat.

“Why is it that the rakyat have to be reminded, urged, prodded and cajoled to fly the flag?

“Patriotism shouldn’t be forced on people. Politicians are eager to advise people to value our independence.

“But many people are confused between anger against certain political leaders and anger against the country.

“You cannot fault the people for being confused. How can one blame the people if the BN politicians themselves cannot maintain the separation of the executive and the legislative, and insist on portraying the BN and the government as one and the same?” he said.

Bian added that the situation would have been different had the government “performed honourably and not let the people down”.


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