Umno, just don’t come to Sarawak

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Of late, a 2014 video of the late Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem talking about Umno has been making the rounds on social media.

It has been reposted over and over again, and shared in various groups with accompanying anti-Umno comments.

This could be the work of the opposition in Sarawak. With GE14 around the corner, whipping up anti-Umno sentiment is a surefire tactic to derail support for BN.

Or it could just be the work of concerned netizens in the state, who are once again wary of Umno’s intentions in Sarawak.

I am actually surprised that this subject was broached again, and with such fervour. I thought it had already become a non-issue, as no one – certainly no Umno leader – has made any mention of the subject of late, at least not publicly.

So it makes me wonder whether there are unseen hands involved in a plot to bring Umno into Sarawak via the back door. In politics, anything is possible.

Then again, Umno also has cronies in Sarawak; some businessmen in the state are closely linked to powerful Umno figures. So anything could happen.

There is also talk of a possible crossover of Sarawak BN parliamentarians to Pakatan Harapan after GE14, should the opposition coalition win. This could also trigger Umno’s interests in Sarawak again.

The last time I heard of serious intention to bring Umno into Sarawak was in 2001, in a move initiated by former Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president and Defence Minister Abang Abu Bakar Mustapha.

I recall asking Abang Abu Bakar about his move at that time, and he told me that Sarawak had much to gain by being with the strongest political party in the country, adding that the interests of Sarawakian Malays would be better protected within Umno.

I did not agree with his reasoning, but could understand his position then. Abang Abu Bakar had already fallen out of favour within PBB at that time, and was at loggerheads with his party president and powerful chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (photo).

Caught in such a situation, perhaps his best option was Umno.

Back to the Adenan video. In it, the then chief minister can be seen giving an interview to the media. When asked about Umno, he responded: “There is no need for Umno in Sarawak. We already have PBB.

“If I were to be in Umno, I would probably be appointed a vice-president. When it comes to concerns regarding Sarawak, I would be overruled by the majority in Umno. I don’t want that.

“There are also some extremists in Umno. These people are not the kind we want in Sarawak,” Adenan added. Continue reading

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Zahid, don’t push us Sarawakians

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | So Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has issued this stern warning: Those fanning “Sabah for Sabahans” and “Sarawak for Sarawakians” sentiments will be severely punished.

“The actions of certain quarters inciting the people with these slogans are against the Federal Constitution. We must fight those playing with fire, and who are trying to create anarchy and national instability,” Zahid said at the launch of the Umno wings general assembly on Tuesday.

That leaves me wondering whether his words were targeted at NGOs and social activists in the two East Malaysian states or specifically at leaders of the Sarawak government.

You see, it’s true that there are “Sabah for Sabahans” and “Sarawak for Sarawakians” (S4S) groups in Sabah and Sarawak but what they have been fighting for the past decade is for Malaya to honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and to reclaim those eroded rights.

And it is not wrong to conclude that the S4S groups have the tacit support and understanding of the state government, certainly so in Sarawak. Let’s say – their goal is the same.

For what was louder and clearer were the strong statements made by Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg and his predecessor, the late Adenan Satem, on MA63.

This could be something which Zahid finds intolerable – even his BN partners in Sarawak, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) leaders in particular, have been very vocal about reclaiming the rights of Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 for being party to the creation of Malaysia.

While Zahid might be camouflaging his warning towards activists, he must also understand and accept that state government leaders are in the picture as well.

The Sarawak chief minister is also demanding that the state’s rights be returned too, and Abang Johari has been more vocal in recent days, thanks to the MA63 debate challenge by Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

For us in Sarawak, we would like to respectfully tell the deputy prime minister that his statement is actually a warning to 2.7 million Sarawakians, for every single Sarawakian wants the fine print of MA63 honoured and respected.

Zahid, can all the prisons in the country hold 2.7 million people? If not, then start building the “accommodation” for 2.7 million Sarawakians. Don’t forget the majority of Sabahans too – another three million or more?

An honest confession

Dear Zahid, let me tell you something honestly and sincerely here. I wouldn’t want to lie to you nor would I dare to, for you are a powerful home minister and you could put me in jail anytime.

I consider myself a Sarawakian patriot. I was only in Primary One in 1963 when Malaysia was formed. I played no role in the creation of this new nation but for 54 years, I knew only Malaysia as my country and Sarawak as my homeland.

At first, Malaysia was good to me, a Sarawakian, or so I thought. But over the past decade or so, this nation which I was once proud to call my country has left me wanting.

You see, Zahid, even a simpleton like me from “ulu” Sarawak finds the rise of religious extremism, the racially-biased policies and rampant corruption and abuse of power, just to name a few of the wrongs in the country, simply intolerable.

I’m sure you will understand why I find myself slowly but surely detaching from Malaysia. I have very little bonding left with Malaysia.

In secular Sarawak, there is genuine religious freedom. No one talks about the use of “Allah” or crucifixes being hung in public areas. No one is bothered about how loud the azan call for prayers is. Buddhist and Hindu processions during their religious festivals are watched and participated in by all.

English is an official language in Sarawak because the late Adenan Satem said so. We love to use English in our home state but over in Malaya, one of your senior Umno colleagues, Nazri Abdul Aziz, demanded that the advancement of English be stopped. How absurd is that! Is that an official Putrajaya policy now?

Over in Sarawak, Muslims and non-Muslims can sell food alongside each other in the same coffeeshop and we can all have breakfast and lunch together. Nobody has to display a “halal” sign. Why is this not possible in Malaya?

Why is there such a silly restriction in our everyday life? Why must we make life so complicated and difficult for Malaysians? Are we not supposed to be uniting Malaysians and getting them together? Why are we segregating them in this manner?

So Zahid, you cannot accuse me of playing with fire if I were to let the whole world know that I feel more at home, more safe and happy in Sarawak than in Malaya.

And since when has shouting “Sarawak for Sarawakians” been against the Federal Constitution? Why is the slogan “Malaysia for Malays” not against the Federal Constitution?

And what about those asking Chinese and Indians in the country to go back to China and India? These are the people who are playing with fire, and who are trying to create anarchy and national instability, not Sarawakians who only want what is rightfully theirs returned.

So Zahid, please don’t push us Sarawakians. We respect you as the deputy premier and home minister, but we know what to do and how to run our own affairs.

The whole of Sarawak was with Adenan Satem when he started negotiating with Putrajaya over MA63 in 2014.

Now, all Sarawakians are with Abang Johari. You push our chief minister into a corner, you push us all.

So, don’t!


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/404632#1JMpTYKQVA8H31ax.99

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So you want to be a datuk?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT After three Rela (People’s Volunteer Corps) members were allegedly assaulted by a 29-year-old businessman with a “datuk seri” title on Oct 27, the spotlight has turned on the awarding of such honorifics by rulers and heads of state.

It has been quite a while since this issue has generated so much public interest. If there is anything positive to emerge from this unfortunate and nasty incident, it must be the clear message to those holding such titles that they are not above the law. They must behave responsibly and with decorum in public and respect others like everybody else.

Rulers, heads of states, and others entrusted or empowered with awarding such titles must surely now be more wary of the “worthiness” of those being honoured. If there can be one positive resulting from the assault case, a clear qualifying criteria is absolutely necessary.

So the Kedah royal house has denied that the state awarded the “datuk seri” title to the businessman concerned. Why did the state issue the denial? Because the Kedah sultan wanted to make it clear that he does not award state honours to shady characters, and certainly not to the 29-year-old man.

Now, we’re left to wonder which state awarded the “datuk seri” title to the individual with a chequered past. Besides being charged with the assault of the Rela trio, he was also arrested in relation to a past drug offence.

Well, no other sultans or governors, except Kedah, have responded to public calls to strip the illustrious title from the individual concerned yet. So, we just have to wait and see.

Then, we heard Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (photo) issuing a stern warning to those bestowed with titles that the law spares no one. A timely reminder indeed. Continue reading

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Veterans group pledges to ‘defend and protect’ Dr M

A veterans group today pledged to “defend and protect” former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, following the government’s withdrawal of his personal bodyguard service.

The National Association of Patriots (PPK) president, retired brigadier-general Mohd Arshad Raji, also called on those who called themselves patriots to do the same.

“One cannot be a patriot of this nation if he or she becomes indifferent to national leaders who have served the people, nation, and the rulers.

“This latest deprivation of close security service for Mahathir challenges us Malaysians to show courage, and reinforce our belief that defending our rights for a better Malaysia is a cause we all rightfully deserve,” he said in a statement.

The withdrawal of protection for Mahathir on Wednesday is the latest in measures Putrajaya had imposed on the nonagenarian, since he became a vocal critic of the current administration, before subsequently becoming the chairperson of the current opposition coalition.

Previously, Mahathir has had the contracts of his personal cook and office assistant, ended, and before that, the privileges of police outrider service was also withdrawn. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Focus on Clare’s more serious allegations, says Ambiga

Ambiga Sreenevasan has been in the spotlight since Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown dragged her name into the defamation suit filed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in the UK.

Rewcastle-Brown’s defence statement mentioned the former Bar Council chairperson as the source, with regard to an article which suggested PAS received some RM90 million from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

However, Ambiga said the intense scrutiny she is being subjected to by Hadi’s followers and allies in Malaysia was missing the more contentious parts of Rewcastle-Brown’s defence statement.

“There are (no) more than two paragraphs (which concern Ambiga) in the defence and counterclaim. There are in total, 36.

“There are serious allegations contained in them. Perhaps that should be the focus,” she added in a statement this evening.

In her Oct 11 court filing, Rewcastle-Brown stated that Sarawak Report was on a “justified campaign” to seek Najib’s removal from office.

Hadi, she alleged, was “colluding” with Najib, the Malaysian government and their agents to disable or discredit Sarawak Report through the suit.

Rewcastle-Brown had argued that she was qualified to publish the words disputed by Hadi, based on Section 4 of UK’s Defamation Act 2013, because her statements were made in public interest. Continue reading

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Politicians, let the IGP do his job

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Many of us will still remember the Lahad Datu incursion by Sulu militants from the Philippines in 2013.

For Sabahans, that must surely be one episode they can never forget or rather, wish had never taken place. That invasion was the first attack on our soil by a foreign army in the nation’s modern history.

Tragically, we lost eight of our brave security personnel in Ops Sulu and Ops Daulat, which were launched to crush the invaders.

I recall ticking off politicians who made all kinds of weird and silly comments during the standoff with the Filipino terrorists which lasted for almost two months (photo).

There is something crucial which our politicians must bear in mind – there are certain issues which are beyond them and it is best that they keep their opinions to themselves, one of which is terrorism.

The issue of terrorism and the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) in Malaysia is a very serious one, so much so that Bukit Aman has also set up a special Counter-Terrorism Division. Its aim is to strengthen the country’s preparedness and enhance the police force’s capabilities to counter the increasingly intense global threats of terrorism.

As a keen observer of police work and the key staff movement within Bukit Aman, I must applaud the appointment of Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as the counter-terrorism chief.

He has been known to be “eating, sleeping and breathing” counter-terrorism in his many years in the force. Ayob Khan certainly deserved his recent promotion as well to deputy police commissioner.

I am sure many Malaysians are deeply concerned with the IS threat on our shores. Although it is not a subject we want to talk about in our daily conversation, the threat is real indeed.

 

Continue reading

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Let’s close the ‘Allah’ chapter and move on

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | I have written many articles regarding the Allah issue since it first surfaced a decade ago. It seems that the subject does not want to fade away.

Now, I wish to ask whether this long-running saga over the usage of the word “Allah” has done the people and nation more harm than good. The answer is obvious.

The issue has torn Malaysians apart. It strikes at the very core of what we, Malaysians, have long cherished – our precious religious tolerance and harmony, one that has long been talked about and greatly admired by others.

Let’s be honest about what’s going on and do some straight talking. We have heard enough about the arguments from both sides – constitutional rights, freedom of religion, the exclusive name of the Muslim God, Christians should use “Tuhan”, et cetera – both within and outside the confines of the court.

These arguments have been repeated so many times over the years that they now sound kind of boring to many, myself included. I would love to hear new and fresh points on the debate, but there are none.

At the end of it all, I think we have to concede that what this is all about is a petty quarrel between Muslims and Christians in Malaysia. Others may disagree that this is a serious issue and not petty. But it is to me.

Why do I think so? Because I believe that other than Muslims and Christians, Malaysians of other religious backgrounds are not bothered at all.

Then again, I doubt I’m wrong in saying that only a small group of Christians and Muslims are concerned or involved in the debate over the Allah controversy.

To the majority, there are other more important and pressing matters at hand. For them, this Allah issue is irrelevant. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)