‘New Putrajaya’ still condescending to Sabah and Sarawak, says activist

People walk at an open market in Serikin, a predominantly Bidayuh village near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A vocal Sabah-based activist has accused Putrajaya of failing to appreciate the intellectual maturity of Sabahans and Sarawakians.

Zainnal Ajamain is particularly not pleased with recent suggestions that the two East Malaysian states are not ready for autonomy due to a lack of experts.

He said such views were condescending and could deepen the grudge against the federal government.

Zainnal said writings in cyberspace indicate that people in the two states are not as naïve as some leaders in Kuala Lumpur might think they are.

Zainnal Ajamain.

“The call to do away with what is perceived as Malayan colonial rule is getting louder and louder, and the call for independence is becoming stronger every day,” he told FMT.

Zainnal warned the Pakatan Harapan government of the possibility that it would, like its predecessor, “face a war of perception” if it continued to ignore “the voices coming out of Sabah and Sarawak”.

He said those voices were raised to a fever pitch after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng tabled his 2019 budget proposal last month.

Zainnal described the budget as one that did not fit into the “New Malaysia” mould of the PH government.

“It was obvious that the budget was similar to all previous budgets coming out of Putrajaya. In other words, it was simply a cut-and-paste affair,” he said.

He said the people of Sabah and Sarawak were upset because they were told that much smaller states like Perlis and Kedah were getting more funds than Sabah and Sarawak.

“Putrajaya should have broken down the budget by state and considered the GDP contribution of each territory,” he added.

Zainnal who is an economist and one of the main authors of the Sabah Development Blueprint (HalaTuju), also referred to remarks by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who said last week that he would support autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak and suggested that the two states send public servants overseas for postgraduate education on policy management.

Zainnal said Daim might be trying to calm the situation by suggesting that both states lack policy makers.

But he said, unlike the eighties, the leaders in West Malaysia should no longer expect that Sabahans and Sarawakians would accept opinions about them lying idle.