Waiting for promises made three generations ago

Many of the leaders that campaigned for the formation of Malaysia have died without seeing piped water, proper roads and electricity reaching their villages and longhouses. My own longhouse here is without electricity and piped water. I hope I do not have to die first before these developments reach my longhouse.

By Leon Donald

As we celebrate Malaysia Day, my thoughts roll back to my 95-year-old grandfather in Sri Aman. He has shared many a story with me on how his grandmother brought him to Kuching to meet the Rajah in court, reminisce on the hardship during the Japanese occupation and then continue on the tragedies he had to go through during the early days of Malaysia during the Confrontation and Communist insurrection.

Then he would tell me about the hardship of campaigning with his cousin, the Paramount Chief of the Ibans, the late Tun Jugah anak Barieng, trying to convince the Ibans to agree to the formation of Malaysia.

He must be wondering the same as I, why only now, the government declares a public holiday on September 16?

Malaysia was formed 47 years ago, not 53 years mind you as Umno would lead us to believe, and only now there is an urgency to recognize the date.

For the past 47 years, we in Sarawak and Sabah have seen this auspicious date pass by without any fanfare.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Ghazali Shafie used to visit Sarawak frequently in the early ‘60s to convince the indigenous people to join and support the formation of the federation of Malaysia.

Strong were their convictions that by agreeing to join Malaysia, the indigenous people would be living a better life.

We — the indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah are generally categorised as Bumiputera, clustered together with the Malays — however, nowadays I am sad that when leaders in the government, including the prime minister, address the various races in the country, only the Malays, Chinese and Indians are mentioned.

I am always upset when I have to fill forms at government offices. The official myopia regarding the indigenous races of Sarawak is also apparent in a number of forms where applicants have to tick one of the four boxes to identify the racial group they belong to: Malay, Chinese, Indian and Lain-lain.

Is this what we the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak been reduced to: lain-lain and fourth class citizens?

Read more at: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/2010/09/waiting-for-promises-made-three.html