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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is Malaysia a partnership of unequals?



Theoretically, Sabah and Sarawak are considered as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia in the Federation of Malaysia.
But in reality, these two states are considered subservient to federal administration in Putrajaya.
In the overall analysis, Malaysia is not a partnership between equals, but unequals.
What a shame! After more than 54 years of political independence, Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo are treated as client states of the federal administration in Putrajaya.
Ironically, when it comes to the need for shoring up political support, these two states figure rather prominently.
It is well-known that without the political support from these two components, it would have been impossible for BN to have retained power at the federal level.
So much so, these two states, given their political significance, have been termed as the "fixed deposit" states of Malaysia. In others words, without the support of the people here, BN would have long relinquished power.
Malaysians are wondering whether these two states have really thrown off the yoke of colonialism by embracing Malaysia in 1963.
Some are saying that while formal colonialism has ended, a new form of colonialism called "internal colonialism" in in force. This is to describe the unequal partnership between Sabah and Sarawak with the dominant partner - Peninsular Malaysia.
It is the "big brother" relationship whereby Putrajaya knows what is best for these two states, that seems to be the cause of concern and anger amongst those who represent the genuine interests of people in Sabah and Sarawak.
Promises and assurances made by federal leaders to return significant powers to these states have not materialised. The importance of these two states only come to the fore during elections.
Asking back their rights
I don’t think the people in these two states are asking too much, but merely want Putrajaya to return the powers that have been taken away from them over the years. By doing so, these states have been reduced to mere apendages to the federal government.
Take the issue of employment. Even with the passage of more than five decades of independence, the top posts in the two states’ public sector are still being dominated by those from the peninsular. It would be understandable if there are no qualified Sabahans and Sarawakians, but this is not true anymore.
Sabah and Sarawak have suitable candidates, but they are unable to secure decent employment. The practice of sending in Malaysians from the peninsular have entrapped the natives from seeking greener pastures in their own respective states.
For instance, how come the top posts in the public universities in these two states are beyond the reach of their own people? Why bring in personnel from the peninsular to fill up the posts like vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and deans in public universities?

Recently Sabahans have become upset when they heard the news that a non-Sabahan has been slotted to take up the post of a vice-chancellor at Universiti of Malaysia Sabah. There are several Sabahans with the right credentials to be considered for this post, but they have been sidelined by the "big brother" politicians in Putrajaya .
Apart from the public universities, agencies such as Immigration, Customs, Police and many other federal departments are notorious in not appointing candidates from these two states.
Yes, politicians in Putrajaya can "beat their chests" by proclaiming that Sabah and Sarawak are an integral part of Malaysia. However, beyond this empty slogan, the stark reality is that these two states are simply considered as "colonies" of the federal administraion in Putrajaya .

So much for Sabah and Sarawak having made the painful decision to embrace Malaysia 54 years ago.

P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.- Mkini

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