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Sheridan Mahavera explores federal-state relations in relation to Sarawak and Sabah. The people of these two states have to believe that there is hope, not only for change through the ballot box but for a better shared destiny between east and west Malaysia.

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AM coverIn our cover story, Sheridan Mahavera explores federal-state relations in relation to Sarawak and Sabah. The people of these two states have to believe that there is hope, not only for change through the ballot box but for a better shared destiny between east and west Malaysia.

Sheridan follows up by interviewing political economist Andrew Aeria, who speaks frankly about the divide between east and west and suggests what can be done to overcome it.

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India Should Offer Chin Refugees Protection

(Bangkok, January 28, 2009) – Burma’s military government should end human rights abuses against the ethnic Chin population in Burma’s western Chin state, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch also called on the Indian government and newly elected Mizoram state government to extend protection to Chin who have fled to neighboring India to escape ongoing abuses and severe repression in Burma.

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The challenge that remains before the modern nation-state today is to admit to its own mythological origins and its fictional identity, says Farish A Noor. The nation-state has to grow up, and like Arjuna, realise that the writing of the national narrative is necessarily a process that is complex, confusing and contradictory; and to learn to live in a confused and complex world.

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Compared with those states in other countries using a federal-state system, the constituent states in Malaysia play relatively limited roles in relation to the centre. Francis Loh examines the factors that have contributed towards Malaysia’s centralised federalism.

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sabahAs the posturings over federal-state relations intensify, BN Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak have seized the opportunity to flex their electoral muscles. Despite their differences with one another, it is significant that the various BN Sabah component parties are speaking with a single voice on their set of demands. Francis Loh observes that Malaysia’s federalism is undergoing restructuring from a centralised system to a more decentralised model that could consolidate our democracy.

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Should Pas’s leaders continue to make unilateral demands, they will only be helping Umno/BN weaken the collective resolve and accommodative spirit that brought the Pakatan Rakyat together in the first place, and by doing so, helping further Umno/BN’s objective of maintaining its hegemonic grip on the country. And so for all our sakes – the Malaysian people’s and for Pas’s sake as well – do rein in these wild horses and keep the PR convoy in line, says Farish Noor, who reminds us that the March 2008 elections was an election for a new Malaysia – not for a theocratic sectarian state, be it in the communitarian mould of Umno or of Pas.

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