Sarawak polls: Sarawakian voices from the teh tarik stall

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A teh tarik stall - Photograph: Wikipedia

Tota and his friend caught up with two Sarawakians who were in town and shares with their scathing views.

The powers that be have destroyed independent institutions in the country and made them into tools to serve the ruling party.

Against this backdrop, the teh tarik stall and the kopitiam have become unique ‘institutions’ which offer much scope for comment, humour, sarcasm and satire about so much of the nonsense going on in Bolehland.

My friend and I had the good luck to meet two Sarawak bumiputras who were in town to attend some NGO programmes. We were eager to learn about the forthcoming Sarawak elections. The Sarawakians generously shared information and even allowed us to extract information from their files.

Below is a summary of our conversation:
(SB1, SB2 = Sarawak bumiputras; F = friend and I)

I: Can you tell us something about the Sarawak elections?

SB1: Why don’t you ask the questions and we will answer them to the best of our ability.

F: Both the print and electronic media are constantly extolling Adenan’s virtues and singing his praises. What’s your opinion?

SB1: The print and electronic media are government-controlled and always spin tall tales. The media are the dullest and emptiest in the world. They can make saints out of sinners and sinners out of saints. Adenan portrays himself as someone always fighting for the interests of Sarawak.

SB2: Adenan is the fifth CM, and he entered politics in 1976 as legal adviser for PBB. From 1979, he won the Tuang seat and then he won the Tajung Datu seat. On 1 March 2014, he became CM. He is a die-hard Umno supporter and speaks the language of Umno leaders.

SB1: Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore are three separate countries that together with the Federation of Malaya formed Malaysia. Right from the beginning, Sarawak’s 18-Point Agreement granted by the Cobbold Commission slowly but surely was eroded by the Alliance/BN central government.

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Adenan, who now claims to be a champion of Sarawak, never opened his mouth to protest. By remaining silent, he connived and colluded with the Umno-dominated government to erode many of the provisions in the 18-Point Agreement.

I: What were the provisions in the 18-Point Agreement that were trampled upon?

SB1: While accepting Islam as the religion of Malaysia, “there should be no state religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaysia should not apply to North Borneo” (quote from the 18-Point Agreement). This provision has clearly been violated.

SB2: With regard to language, “English should be an official language of North Borneo for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time” (from the 18-Point Agreement). This provision does not exist at present!

F: Isn’t Adenan abusing the provision in the immigration law to bar all opposition members to prevent them from campaigning for DAP and PKR?

SB1: Well, as I told you the mass media have portrayed all opposition members as sinners. Adenan is supposedly their saint who doesn’t realise that the extremists and religious bigots are aplenty in Umno.

SB2: Adenan is a star-dust dictator. He doesn’t have an iota of knowledge about democracy, fairness, fair-play and a level playing field in the conduct of elections.  That’s why he is barring opposition members from Sarawak.

SB1: He cannot be that daft or stupid [to not know that] many political extremists and religious bigots come from Umno, whom he welcomes and embraces because they apparently come with cash [or goodies]. That’s how ethical and moral he is.

I: What other provisions in the 18-Point Agreement have been eroded?

SB1: The provision for North Borneo to control its own finance, tariffs and the right to work out its own taxation and raise loans on its own credit is non-existent. It is all BIG government, and Putrajaya controls [almost] everything.

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SB2: According to the 18-Point Agreement, the existing educational system of North Borneo should be maintained, and for this reason it should be under state control.  Sarawak surrendered this provision, and now education is under federal control.

SB1: The so-called leaders of Sarawak aligned with Umno-dominated BN have betrayed Sarawakians. They never raised any objections when the BN government was ruthlessly eroding the 18-Point Agreement.

I: There have been allegations that politicians and cronies from the ruling party aided by corrupt Sarawakians have indulged in large-scale timber extraction, legal and illegal. Is it true?

SB1: This has been happening without let for years. Now Petronas extracts petroleum without state control.  The state gets a pittance – five per cent of petroleum income.

Global Witness provided unassailable evidence of massive corruption in Sarawak. The CM then, Taib, refused to cooperate with MACC, whom he called “naughty”. He was later elevated as governor. That’s how Malaysia and Sarawak fight corruption in high places.

F: Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore came as separate countries to form Malaysia in 1963. Now Sarawak is treated as merely a state within Malaysia. It is significant that the head of state was originally called Yang di-Pertua Negara – which confirms that Sarawak from a Negara (country) has become a Negeri (state)!

I: The Muslim population of Sarawak is only 25 per cent, yet the CM and the governor come from this minority community – something that would not be permitted in West Malaysia.

SB1: Adenan, it would seem, is a firm believer in Malay hegemony, Ketuanan Melayu and Malay supremacy. The people of Sarawak are asleep. They never realised or cared as the sacrosant 18-Point Agreement was slowly but surely eroded by the Umno-dominated government. In 12 general elections, they have given the Alliance/BN a clear two-thirds majority in the state assembly. This proves their naivety.

Just see what Najib and Zahid are doing – shamelessly promising to build schools, repair churches, build roads, bridges, etc and even MRSM [Maktab Rendah Science Mara or Mara Science Junior College] for Sarawak bumiputras.

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All these promises are coming 53 long years late. When or whether these promises will in fact materialise is anybody’s guess.

I: Adenan is well liked by Umno leaders. Any comment?

SB1: Najib is on record as having said that he likes loyal and obedient leaders (aka yes-men or boot-lickers) rather than intelligent ones! That answers your question.

I: Malaysia is the only country in the world where a citizen needs a passport to travel from west to east! Isn’t Adenan behaving like a dictator, barring opposition and NGO leaders from entering to Sarawak to campaign?

SB1: Umno-dominated BN and Adenan are crazy for power. Shameless gerrymandering is not enough. Prevent a fair electoral environment and win the election by hook or by crook…

I: Is it true that some headmen of longhouses do not allow opposition politicians to campaign in their longhouses?

SB2: The grinding poverty in Sarawak is unbelievable. There is talk that if you give RM10 to a rural Sarawakian, he [might be willing to] lend you his MyKad on election day. [Some of the] headmen are no different. Umno leaders armed with RM2.6bn have plenty to offer.

F: What is your advice to Sarawakians?

SB1:  Wake up Sarawakians. Don’t believe that 1MDB debt of RM50bn does not affect you. As always your taxes, your petroleum money, your GST contribution will be used when the bailout comes. You have a golden opportunity to start the ball rolling for Ubah. Do not be content with consuming the crumbs that fall off the Umnoputras banquet table.

F, I: It has indeed been enlightening to talk to you. Thank you for sharing so much information with us. We wish you and Sarawak all the best.

SB1, SB2: Nice talking to you. Bye

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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All Saint
All Saint
6 May 2016 1.53pm

WAKE UP – Sarawakians! Please don’t think that issues in West Malaysian do not affect East Malaysia……

Allan Wong
Allan Wong
5 May 2016 9.30pm

Wake up Sarawakians!