This issue focuses on various markers of identity: regional, ethnic, religious and gender.
In our cover story, Faizal S Hazis says that the people of Sabah and Sarawak need a government that puts people at the forefront of its development struggle instead of championing a so-called ‘Borneo Agenda’ that does little to analyse and reform unjust power structures.
In a centre page photo story, Henry Loh discusses a unique experiment in local democracy under which ordinary people were provided with a means to express their preference and have their feedback taken seriously. But in the larger scheme of things, does people power really rule – or does corporate money talk? Dave Anthony says that an escape clause should be put in place in contracts to ensure that corporate projects unfriendly to people and environment can be terminated without compensation by subsequent administrations.
To counter racist tendencies in society, Aliran in cooperation with the Islamic Renaissance Front organised an anti-racism workshop in Penang. Azmil Tayeb meanwhile writes about the ups and downs of Islamic education, which he believes will continue to be hotly contested ground.
But barriers are also being broken. Yeoh Seng Guan describes an unusual Merdeka Eve – Malaysians he says are now much more politically savvy and empowered to shape the kind of Malaysia they want.
Finally, we express our solidarity with Suaram, which is now facing an unbelievable witch-hunt, and we congratulate the Women’s Centre for Change on the opening of their new office.