Three things that anger the people of Sabah
Mariam Mokhtar -September 19, 2020 9:10 AM
The irony of Sabah is that in 1963 it stopped being a British colony, but became a colony administered by the federal government of Malaya.
Fifty-seven years after 1963, the people of Sabah still fight for their rights and for more power to manage their own nation. The terms of the MA63 agreement were neither respected nor upheld. Today, Sabah still struggles to be treated as an equal partner in Malaysia.
High on their list of priorities are the MA63 agreement, the oil concession and the Ketuanan Melayu and Islamisation agenda.
The people of Sabah are furious that despite their oil and timber wealth, money has been diverted to Semenanjung, to build peninsular infrastructure while local people struggle to keep villages connected.
Sabah is a diverse nation of many indigenous tribes and religions, including animism. Sabahans are aware that one faith or one ethnic group cannot be superior to another; yet, many top civil service positions are filled by imported West Malaysians.
They are furious that Project IC has allegedly diluted the local population with migrants from neighbouring countries, who were given citizenship rights in exchange for Umno-Baru votes. Project IC has altered Sabah’s demography.
Next week, when Sabahans vote, caretaker chief minister Shafie Apdal will learn if his message to build a nation has filtered down to the grassroots.
They have always believed that they are a tolerant and harmonious people. Many families are composed of people with different faiths, who sit together at the dining table to celebrate Christmas, Kaamatan (harvest festival), Chinese New year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and Vesak, the Buddhist New year. They have no qualms about celebrating, eating or drinking whatever they wish in one another’s company.
There is rising discontent among both Sabahans (and Sarawakians) over several issues, such as freedom of religion, the provisions for education and healthcare, as well as the allocation of funds for infrastructure.
In the past, both Sabah and Sarawak were once known as the vote-bank for BN.
Shafie has the upper hand in next week’s state election. If he wins, he will be able to show West Malaysians that no one race or religion is superior.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.