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Malaysia is ‘fractured, polarised, unsettled’

 | September 15, 2013

According to a reputed senior lawyer in Sarawak, the "inescapable conclusion" is that the state has not done well from its 50-year partnership with Malaya.

KUCHING: On Sept 16, 1963 through the signing of the Malaysia Agreement independent  Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia came together as a nation.

At that time first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said one of the principal objectives was to further the economic development of the Borneo Territories so that their standards of living and technical skills could be raised so that the gap between a relatively backward Sarawak and Sabah and advanced Peninsular Malaya could be narrowed.

It’s been 50 years since and the gap has only widened and not reduced claimed a reputed native lawyer and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.

“The Tunku’s vision has not been fulfilled and Sarawakians still lag behind West Malaysia in every aspect – from education to healthcare, from basic amenities to infrastructure, from industrial development to economic progress.

“Today, Sarawakians are grappling with burdensome issues including the ever rising cost of living unaided by any corresponding increase in disposable income, increased crime rates (especially in violent crimes in the past year), unequal distribution of and lack of economic and educational opportunities.

“And rural Sarawakians live in real fear of being dispossessed of their lands by big companies engaging in logging and dam-building activities backed by those in power.

“Fifty years after joining in the formation of Malaysia, 30% of rural Sarawakians still have no access to electricity and to treated water. Infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, clinics, and schools are sorely lacking and those that exist are sub-standard and grossly inadequate.

“In contrast our political leaders have amassed enormous wealth for their families and benefactors.

“And yet, our people are constantly reminded to be grateful to the BN government for the scraps given,” Bian lamented.

Fractured, polarised, unsettled

He further added that Sarawakians observe with trepidation and some bemusement, the insidious emergence of religious and racial intolerance instigated by a few extremist bigots in West Malaysia which appear to have the tacit approval of national leaders.

He also found it ‘mortifying’ that Malaysia took top place in Transparency International’s bribery table and the third spot in Global Financial Integrity’s worldwide illicit capital outflow survey, adding that some prominent Sarawakians had “contributed in no small measure” to this unenviable achievement.

“We are part of a country that is, after 50 years, seemingly fractured, polarized and unsettled.

“The litany of this country’s ills is long and heartbreaking.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Sarawak has not done well from this 50-year partnership with Malaya.

“Let us also not forget the 18 points in the Malaysia agreement pertaining to safeguards for Sarawak, particularly the points on religion, language, constitution, immigration, Borneonisation and representation in the Federal government.

“In carrying out this exercise of reflection, we cannot point our fingers solely in the direction of the west.

“Our rights as stated in the 18-points have been eroded but our state leaders have been incapable or unwilling to make a stand for us,” he said.


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