False prophets beget racial politics

By Pak Bui, Malaysian Mirror

 “Race and ethnicity are cultural constructs; they exist in our language and our mind only. They do not exist objectively like the sun and the moon, or like the living species called homo sapiens,” Sim Kwang Yang has written in this blog.

Yet false prophets in Sarawak continue to pretend they are champions or leaders of individual races. They urge us to worship the idol of racial politics.

Consider George Chan, boasting that he can speak for the Chinese (though surely we must realise that the Chinese have never been a pure Han race, but are a mixture of different bloodlines, even in mainland China itself).

What was the result of George Chan’s ‘leadership’? We hear Taib Mahmud threatening Sarawakian Chinese to understand the government’s ideas, or lose out in development. At least understanding the government’s ‘ideas’ is easy enough, given that these are limited to grabbing Sarawakians’ land to further enrich the already wealthy Melanau, Chinese, and other elites.

Look at Lihan Jok extolling the divine virtues of the Bakun Dam to the Orang Ulu (made up of many language and cultural groups, and certainly not a race, though charlatans like Lihan Jok continually claim that they are Orang Ulu ‘leaders’).

And look at Peter Minos, playing the role of champion of the Bidayuh, saying the Bidayuh in Bengoh have been mistreated by the government. He is absolutely correct, in that the villagers there have been betrayed by the government. But Peter Minos is a member of that same government. He is a senior member of the PBB, the dominant party in the ruling coalition. In fact, he is a leading light in the same party responsible for land grabs all over Sarawak, not just in Bidayuh areas. Why has he not resigned in shame, if he were a true Bidayuh ‘leader’?

What do all these false prophets have in common? They preach they are representing the rights or the interests of individual races.

What are the rights of each individual race? These are the same as the rights of any individual human being. Why do we need a racial champion to fight for universal human rights? Should we not fight for all human beings in Sarawak, since Sarawakians of all races have had our human rights abused and trampled on?

And what are the interests of each individual race? These are arbitrarily determined by the racial ‘leaders’. They never tell us that their own personal enrichment, their own interests, supercede those of the voters, of whatever race.

No matter what race they claim to represent, corrupt leaders drive the same luxury cars, and go for vacations to the same rich countries, and they all speak English at their lavish dinners.

The SUPP was once a multi-ethnic party, proud to represent the working class. It has mutated into a Chinese businessmen’s club, run by a clique motivated purely by contracts and skimming off the proceeds of contracts.

James Masing used to claim he spoke for the Ibans and the Dayaks. Now he speaks for the chief minister. The words coming out of his mouth are foul and twisted. His words smell of arrogance, sophistry and contempt for ordinary Sarawakians. They are words we never would have believed he would utter back when he was an idealistic young politician in Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak, two decades ago. His lies now stink far worse than bad breath. Time and power can destroy a man.

The Ibans once welcomed Masing to their longhouses as a champion, now they dance for him because they are desperate for the tiniest crumbs of development, and are afraid of losing government funding if they ignore him. Many Ibans in urban areas now give him a less ceremonious greeting – they clear their throat and expel the contents when they hear his name.

Yet many Sarawakians, including in the highly educated minority, still believe fervently in the cult of racial politics. They cling to the faith that their racial ‘leaders’ will lead them to some Promised Land.

They even declare that God created the races and therefore we must not question the concept of race. There are two main problems with this argument.