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Dealing with the Borneo Agenda

Is it any wonder that poverty is still prevalent
in the resource rich states of Sabah and Sarawak
after 45 years in Malaysia?
History will tell us that alliances between states are entered into to serve strategic, economic and the national interest of their people.
More often than not these alliances are driven by political leaders who dream of greater glory and national advancement that the sum of such an alliance may bring.
History will also tell us that no nation can survive an alliance with another for too long when the interest of its people are exploited and taken advantage of by the another.
Such is the situation that the people of Sabah and Sarawak now feel they are in – the same Sabah and Sarawak that joined with Singapore and Malaya to form that new nation of Malaysia.
Joined not as the 12th and 13th states under Malaya but as equal partners having equal status and rights within the Federation of Malaysia.
Singapore has since bid adieu to Malaysia because it serves the political purpose of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government of Malaysia for that to happen. Political Armageddon awaits Umno if Singapore was allowed meaningful participation into the federal politics of Malaysia.
With Singapore conveniently out of the way, this BN government of Malaysia did partake in and willingly encourage the following in Sabah and Sarawak:
  • First it proceeded forthwith to export to East Malaysia the politics of race and religion that had enabled Umno to divide and rule the population of Malaya to their political advantage for over 50 years.
  • Second this same BN government set out to colonise East Malaysia and took absolute control over their oil, gas and land resources for the benefit of Malaya – or more to the point for the advantage of the political elites in Umno in particular and BN in general.
  • Third they allowed with impunity the contemptible practice already embedded in the culture of Sabah and Sarawak politicians to grow indiscriminately – and that is the willingness of these politicians to indulge in party hopping and horse trading – much aided and infused by the proliferation of money politics, rampant state level corruption abuse of power and administrative management already prevalent in Malaya under the Umno-led government of Barisan Nasional.
Is it any wonder that poverty is still prevalent in the resource rich states of Sabah and Sarawak after 45 years in Malaysia?
Is it any wonder that corrupt administrators, crony timber robber baron and massive and endemic corruption now colour the politics in Sabah and Sarawak?
A political landscape that is also not unfamiliar to those in Malaya. A political landscape that any state and people will have to endure where corrupt politicians are allowed to rule not for the good of the people who elected them to office but for their own benefit.
Everyone has an agenda
For me the problems besetting our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak are no different from that faced by us in Malaya.
Today we have Jeffrey Kitingan telling us that PKR is no different from Umno. Today there is the “Malaya Agenda” and the “Borneo Centric Agenda”. How quaint and convenient for these politicians to coin “agenda’s” because it suits their purpose to do so.
I could go into the dynamics of factions within East Malaysia that holds sway over seats in Sabah and Sarawak and their potential to make or break Umno or Pakatan Rakyat in this 13th general election but it would be an exercise in futility because these are games that politicians play to further their own interest and to make adverse the interest of other politicians.
This is what we all know.
Political change in Sabah and Sarawak happened a long time ago and Borneo-centric politics now has its own agenda.
Fundamentally it asks for government without interference from Semenanjung. Fundamentally it asks that revenue from East Malaysia be used for the people of East Malaysia. Fundamentally it asks for self-respect and a demand to be treated as equals.
Today they also talk of Umno and PKR having the same DNA.
They talk of their contempt on being lectured by the new kids on the block – Chua Jui Meng and others from PKR (only Anwar Ibrahim would past muster in as far as they are concerned but then Anwar was the one who bought them into Umno– once bitten twice shy!)
And they talk of being colonised by masters from Semenanjung.
These are but just symptoms of the malaise East Malaysia find themselves in. These political changes are what Umno is trying to come to terms with but without much success as the master-servant relationship still prevails between East and West Malaysia.
Pakatan Rakyat work through Anwar is also without much success – old wounds do not quickly heal. Pakatan listens but does not hear.
Anyhow for Umno and Pakatan Rakyat, Jeffrey Kitingan (and possibly any political factions in East Malaysia) has made it known that they will work with the victor in the 13th general election.
It would be advantageous for Pakatan Rakyat to not forget this if they are confident of victory at the next general election. Remember in politics there is no constant. Only alliances to be forged with those who will best serve your purpose.
As for Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional wanting to form any ‘win-win’ alliances with their East Malaysian ‘counterparts’, I would suggest that for now the East Malaysian be left to their own devices.
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.

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