FMT LETTER: From Pajero Free, via e-mail
As a young boy I remember the confrontation with Indonesia. The presence of allied forces and the evidence of death and suffering.
Some images were like those from the Vietnam war. Fortunately, in Sarawak the war was less intense and short lived.
There was also the fight against the communists insurgents.
I remember Kuching under curfew and the sound of gunfire could be heard from the direction of Batu Kawa. Then the good news.
It all ended quite suddenly. Sarawak had come together with Sabah, Singapore and Malaya to form Malaysia. Simanggang had its name changed to Sri Aman.
The next chapter was full of good anticipation and industry. Time to get to work and realise the potential of Sarawak. People of different ideology (some had just recently fought on different sides or were at least sympathetic) came together for a better Sarawak.
Quite suddenly, Stephen Kalong Ningkang was ousted. I had to get on with school and was too young to really be bothered with details. But talks of the masters behind the Malaya political system being the contributing force were definitely heard. Fast forward and we saw our very rich timber resources being harvested.
Someone had to do it because Sarawak needed development. However, the manner employed benefited those in power more than the people they claim to represent because it was up to the decision of one person, the chief minister. If this is not true, there was little to go by to show otherwise.
Then, it was the Ming Court affair.
The chief minister was now a different person. By this time Sarawakians were no longer the same as those who had come together to form a new nation Malaysia.
Now, they were divided into political parties that were pitted one against another because of the struggle between who should be the top dog of the political system – its power, its wealth. It would be too simplistic to sum it as a uncle and nephew struggle.
The stakes were more than high.
The next era saw timber yields dropping. Setting up plantations became a good idea. After all, there is so much secondary forest that do not produce any income – at least not noticeably or measureable I guess.
KL generated big stories.
The Bank Bumi scandal and scandals continue till today with unending variety and disgust. Direct negotiation contracts were justified for just about anything instead of open tenders.
Business priorities ruled the nation.
Representatives elected were not allowed to speak their mind, except those of the opposition.
By now, it is no longer about the people, their aspirations, their children’s future, their first house, their retirement years.
Singapore is a success but the news is produced by KL and I can confidently say KL is more kia-su than Singapore. After all, Sarawakians can freely give their opinion – right? We are not able to learn from Singapore because KL is the filter. Today S$1 is RM2.4.
I remember the 1:1 days and I know the 1:2.4 of today.
When elected representatives are not allowed to voice their opinion but must tow the party line, on that day the people have been divided and are ruled by a system or regime.
The people’s votes are only to legitimise the system. After the elections, the system rules the people for itself. Rural voters who vote opposition will see development denied.
It is easier to identify which locality has voted opposition even if they may not necessary know specifically which individual. This is because of the sparse population.
So if you are uncertain which party to vote for or which individual in this state election, please vote the opposition. This is not to say
they are perfect. Far from it. But, it is an opportunity to break the strangle hold of the current political system.
1 Malaysia was a non-starter from the beginning. Sarawak and Sabah are different from each other and definitely different from Malaya. It is diversity that is Malaysia. It is this diversity and its freedom that has brought blessing to Malaysia. But one group has imposed on others and are doing so harshly.
There are now two sets of courts. Enactments are passed without considering Sarawak and Sabah. The bible issue is just a symptom.
Then it’s poco-poco. What next? Education standard? Our schools had Cambridge certificates but now to get the same, you will have to go to a private school and pay a lot.
There must be a change for the better. For the BN, the survival of the system is more important than the aspirations of the people. I have friends in both the opposition and in BN. I respect and honour them as individuals. The point here is not about that. It’s the current patronising system that must be replaced if Sarawakians want to steer this lovely nation of the free hornbill to greater heights.
There was a time when I defended BN because I believed it brought together different ethnic groups and races together to participate in nation development. I’m now able to see that this is no longer the case. The people are ruled, yes. But is the ruler ruling Sarawak, and for that matter Malaysia, for the people and with the people?
I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer so. Slogans are easy to manufacture. The people are not rejoicing and have not been rejoicing for a long time. The nation gave the former PM a huge mandate but where did that take us? This is the litmus test.