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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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am coverThese are exciting times for Malaysia. Following the political tsunami, many analysts have discussed the new political landscape in the country. One crucial area, however, has not received enough attention: the changing dynamics of federal-state relations.

Francis Loh addresses this deficit with a cover story that traces the factors that have contributed towards Malaysia’s centralised federal system. This system is now under pressure with the new march towards decentralisation and good governance.

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raniIt is ironic how the wakil can be so honoured while the rakyat are treated with such ignominy, observes Rani Rasiah. Yet many wakil are not aggrieved when the rakyat are oppressed and humiliated. Many wakil don’t see it as an assault on their honourable selves. It is no wonder that in many cases, the rakyat are so seldom and so poorly represented by their wakil.

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penang forum

Feeling more empowered than ever before after the shock opposition win in Penang, civil society activists and other concerned individuals came together to discuss and agree on key areas of concern and proposals for submission to the state government. Anil Netto reports on the historic Penang Forum.

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Charter 2000-Aliran takes Makkal Osai to task for not having exercised greater prudence in ensuring that what is published does not demean what others hold as sacred and sensitive. To publish a picture of Jesus Christ purportedly holding a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other hand on its front page (21 August 2007) was irresponsible and reprehensible.

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Philip Khoo examines how the opposition managed to make sharp inroads in the May 2006 Sarawak state elections, which saw an ethnic Chinese revolt and the neutering of the Dayaks.

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taib mahmudPolling day in Sarawak is on 20 May but, withTaib Mahmud in power for 25 longyears, Sarawakians are distinctly unexcited about the elections. How and why has the chief minister dominated Sarawak elections for so long? And why doesSarawak have the fourth highest incidence of poverty after Sabah, Terengganu and Kelantan?

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