Power of Sarawakian ‘Nationalism’! — Lee Yew Meng

DECEMBER 25 — PBB unsurprisingly won 47: 47 seats, SUPP surprisingly won 13:18, PRS did well with 11:11 and PDP followed through with 5:6.

No one, not even the most optimistic GPS loyalists expected an outcome of 76 from the contending 82 seats. Blimey, that was a 92.7 percent scorecard!

Sarawakians have waited too long for MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) to be thoroughly rectified and for the state political autonomy to be in place. The description used for Sarawak’s decades-long predicament has been that she was “unfairly treated” but I think that narration is itself unfair because she was plainly being bullied.

There was also the constant fear that Malayan politics which increasingly focused on Race and Religion could creep into their backyards.

PSB founded and led by Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh (formerly a member of the administration) addressed all the fears and aspirations most adeptly. Observers had expected PSB to do rather well. While DAP’s aura as an oppositionist remained but unfortunately for them the voters were not in tandem.

GPS’s amazing performance means they have also carved out presumably most demanding expectations from the electorates for the next five years.

Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg (centre) and other GPS leaders celebrate after winning the Sarawak state election at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching December 18, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg (centre) and other GPS leaders celebrate after winning the Sarawak state election at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching December 18, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Chief minister Tan Sri Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari aka Abang Jo has assumed the task in an environment very unlike that of his predecessors. There are no obvious restraints anymore; only obvious accountabilities.

Pluralism, Inclusivity, Diversity and Acceptance (PIDA)

The GPS colleagues, particularly the lead partner PBB, were as elated as SUPP that the Chinese-led mixed party had a superb outing. SUPP had suffered a serious setback in the 10th state election in 2011 retaining 6 seats from an incumbency of 11. One of the casualties was then party president who was a three-term deputy chief minister. He handed in his party post resignation immediately and retired – with dignity intact. SUPP has been without the DCM post since then.

The administration set-up equilibrium has been the provision of three DCMs representing Bumiputera (Malay/Melanau) Muslims, Bumiputera (Dayaks) Christians and the Chinese community. This covers the top-line state demographics. However political reality demanded certain consequences as SUPP had performed rather badly in the last two state elections.

Will the party president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian be appointed DCM in the new cabinet? I think so.

Since the helm ship of Tun Taib Mahmud in 1981 (thru 2014) all policy and political decisions were anchored on PIDA considerations. PBB’s mission for muslim bumiputera was always centred on their development vis-a-vis the economy, education and the social sphere. It was never targeted on Malay/Melanau supremacy. And it was Islamic values that were spread instead of Islamisation.

Henceforth peace and goodwill became the cornerstone in coalition dealings and the mainstay in governance initiatives. Incidentally, the Sarawak state secretary (head of the civil service) Datuk Amar Jaul Samion is a Christian Iban (Dayak).

The latest manifestation of PIDA is the inclusion in the MA63 amendments in the Federal Constitution to recognize a child as a native as long as one parent is native. Presently children of mixed parentage are not recognized as natives. There is a parallel here with Malaysian mothers’ equal rights to automatic conferment of citizenship to their overseas-born children. The Court of Appeal had recently rejected Putrajaya’s stay of execution application against the high court decision.

A Role beyond Sarawak

The maxim that – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” still rings true in many circumstances all over.

China and Singapore are clear exceptions. Many of us are familiar with their multiple travails and how they overcame their monumental odds. The common thread was unity, meritocracy, fiercely anti corruption, and, driven by intense nationalism. The successes of their nations are postured as the achievements of CPC and PAP. GPS has been entrusted a similar type role by the Sarawakian electorate on this December 18. They have adopted the Abang Jo-led coalition to fulfill state “Nationalism” dreams.

In GE14 GPS won 18 of the 31 seats allocated to the state. Under the present conditions if GE15 is held within the next 12 months GPS would even hold a stronger sway in the Federal Government formation and directions. Many Malaysians in the peninsula welcome this possible development quite anxiously.

Putrajaya doesn’t appear to be alarmed that the political leadership is driving a wedge amongst a Malaysian society cultivated with care and empathy the last 60 years. The “us against them” will destroy our beloved nation, perhaps sooner than later.

“To each his/her own” is being trampled upon incessantly. Imposing one’s narrow views on others is not on. Nationalism is about building a Malaysia for all Malaysians!

We do crave for Sarawak to share their PIDA values nationwide.

Postscript

In the formation of Malaysia the parliamentary seats were divided accordingly for the 1964 election: Malaya 104, Sarawak 24, Sabah 16 and Singapore 15, totaling 159. The intention was that the latter three regions with their 55 seats making it 34.6 percent of the total seats can deny Malaya the two-thirds majority to effect arbitrary change to the Federal Constitution.

When Singapore left in 1965, their 15 seats were absorbed by Malaya, leaving Sarawak and Sabah with 25.2 percent of the total seats. This ratio allocation has never been corrected.

My 2022 wish for our country is that bigots of all varieties to return to their respective caves!

*Datuk Lee Yew Meng was the former CEO of the Design Thinking School of Malaysia. He is now the Corporate Adviser to Adamantine Resources Sdn Bhd and Greencom Biotech Sdn Bhd.

**This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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