Let’s move on

Oppose any legislation that changes name of Sarawak into something alien.

IN 11 days’ time, everyone will be bidding goodbye to the year 2020. This coincides with the end of Malaysia’s Vision 2020 – a great thought aimed at making the country into an economic Asian Tiger.

In the course of two decades, every Malaysian has been told to believe in this dream. By this year, the country was supposed to have acquired the status of a fully developed nation. And the Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak were looking forward to celebrating its success with fireworks, government-sponsored dinners, and long self-praising speeches. Now extended till 2030; by then, there will emerge a healthy cub.

We hope the authorities will eventually produce a Report Card of sorts – successes as well as failures underlined. Malaysians in Sarawak and Sabah, in particular, would like to know if the money from their oil and gas has been spent equitably, and whether they have been allowed a fair share of the pie.

Into the future with confidence

Certain issues of the day have caused me a couple of headaches. I’m seeking your advice as to the best means by which to handle them.

But first the bright side of things. Share with me the conviction that happy days will be here again if we look forward to the future with confidence, Covid-19 notwithstanding. Don’t let the virus overcome you; you overcome it by observing strictly the provisions of the current movement control order – isolation and social (physical) distancing, etc.

Always remember that everyone is an architect of his or her own future. Success or failure at work or in business depends on individual effort. Visions or aspirations will not materialise without the will to succeed, and success comes with a price: 99 per cent of perspiration and only 1 per cent of inspiration.

Who to vote for?

What does the political future hold for Sarawak? I wish I had the crystal bowl, though I keep my ears and eyes open for political gossips. There will be an election of members of the state legislature within the next six months unless the pandemic forces a declaration of emergency in the state. If that happens the election may be postponed. We pray this will not happen.

The politicians are conjuring up all sorts of visions for Sarawak; they will promise the voters the sun and the moon. They think they can control the time and the tide. This is the chance for you to choose the leaders whom you can rely upon to articulate your interests most effectively.

If a candidate approaches me for support, I will give that support on condition that once a government has been legitimately formed after the election, he or she will not turn into a frog to help change the government mid-term. For there will be no end to coups and counter-coups. There will be rampant sales of frogs to the highest bidder. Any government formed in this manner is unstable. The political system will be fraught with uncertainties. People lose faith in the rule of law.

Possible end of parliamentary democracy for Malaysia. Have you thought of that?

Name change

The other condition for my support to a candidate is that he or she will not vote for any legislation that changes the name of Sarawak. Any subtle move to undermine the status quo will upset the balance of racial harmony in the state. My YB will not have a role in any stratagem to change the venerable Sarawak to any other name.

Sarawak is a secular state in the Federation of Malaysia. So all Malaysians must abide by the supreme law of the land. Let us remind ourselves of Article 11 of that Constitution which clearly states:

“(1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it. 

(2) No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purpose of a religion other than his own. 

(3) Every religious group has the right –

(a) to manage its own religious affairs;

(b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and 

(c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.       

(4) State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam …” 

Let’s pause here for a moment. Sub-clause (4) of the Constitution prohibits non-Muslim evangelists from converting Muslims to any other religion. It has the effect of preventing a religious quarrel all right. However, by the same token, Islamic evangelists should not convert any one professing another other religion or belief unless they offer themselves to be converted, for some reason. In my opinion, that is the actual meaning of the freedom of religion in this context. This is similar to the policy on religion of the Brookes in Sarawak. And this has done a lot of good for generations of Sarawakians. The existing religious harmony that we are enjoying is the sum total of a hundred over years of the tradition of religious acceptance and tolerance in Sarawak.

It has become a precious Sarawak Culture, invaluable for all times; as such it must be preserved at all costs. Any attempt from inside or outside the state, subtle or otherwise, to undermine the status quo does not meet with approval of sensible Sarawakians. It is their bounden duty to sustain that culture until kingdom come.

So, candidates in the forthcoming election, be warned: if you can’t stick by the above principles you won’t get my vote!

In the spirit of the season, please accept my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Comments can reach the writer via [email protected]