Monday, November 29, 2010

Dark mood of the White Paper

West Malaysia may have put Malaysia on the political map but many in Sarawak believe that the greed of West Malaysia may very well be the one to wipe Sarawak off the map if their actions against Sarawak are not curtailed, sanctioned and controlled. Whilst the recently proposed White Paper offers to curtail unwanted activity from the Peninsular, unfortunately it says nothing about the inherent greed in our own Sarawakian leaders, whose cronies and contacts are from the Peninsular.

I initially applauded the motion for this White Paper passed by a BN backbencher, thinking that finally, someone in BN was travelling in the right direction. The motion reads as follows:-

…unhealthy and divisive activities and actions with the tendency calculated to disrupt, undermine and destroy the peace, unity and harmony of or multi-racial or respect and tolerance of religious beliefs and practices and the economic interests and progress of the State of Sarawak, have been carried out by persons and or organizations from outside the state

… unless steps are taken immediately to prevent the escalation of such activities and actions, the peace, harmony, stability and economic interests of the state will be undermined and severely jeopardized

…I hereby move that this Dewan (House) resolves that the State Government shall prepare and publish a White Paper on all such activities and actions undertaken recently by various peoples. Organizations and media from outside the state and measures that the Government shall take to prevent the escalation of such activities and to pre-empt the deterioration of the peace, harmony and unity between our multi-racial communities, the security of the state and its economic interests and progress.

Sounds great doesn't it? Sounds like legislated protection for Sarawak against grubby fingers that want a dip in the rainforest pie. I am not against this White Paper but I call for (not that my voice or vote matters does it?) a closer look at the words underlined above and ask that the following be taken into account:-

1) Clarity
The words of the Paper must be clear and not worded in such a way that the intention can be interpreted anyhow to the advantage of those who seek to abuse its loopholes. This is a big problem and an issue because if this Paper becomes Law, the wording should be clear so that judges will have to interpret the Act according to the obvious meaning of the Act and not interpret it in a way suitable to obtain a holiday in Switzerland. The Opposition should serve as Shadow Cabinet on this. Anything less will be a farce, a mockery and an insult.

2) Intention
Is the intention to keep West Malaysian influence out completely or to keep political influence from West Malaysia out? Is this only about politics or does this cover education as well? Will this Act be used a situation where a West Malaysian Principal in Sarawak refuses to let a Chinese student bring pork to school or will the Government then say that it does not apply because the said West Malaysian resides in Sarawak? Will the number 13 (we are the 13th state in case you didn’t know) on our IC be a lucky number for Sarawakians in keeping evil out or will those from within the 13th State devour their own who will then be unable to garner help from outsiders as this will be prevented by the White Paper?

Is the Law supposed to protect Sarawakians or Sarawak? Who then will protect West Malaysians who have lived in Sarawak for many, many years and have made their lives and homes in Sarawak? Will they be protected under this legislation if anything untoward happens against them in the name of defending Sarawak?

3) Government Measures
What does BN mean by "steps taken immediately"? Does this mean being thrown into jail without trial? A compound fine? A warning? Who will be in charge of enforcing these steps? How will we know that these steps taken are fair? In the United States, people previously held without conviction in Guantanamo Bay have been released because it was recognized that holding people against their will for no valid reason except the often flimsy and overused excuse of “national security” was wrong and an offence against human rights. Is Sarawak to have her own Guantanamo Bay?

And what of the suggestion of "pre-emptive measures"? That sounds a lot like another Legislation we all know too well; the Internal Security Act (ISA). We all know what we think of the ISA and we know we do not like it. Mind you, this is not because the ISA is not good law but that its implementation and enforcement is done in a reactionary way to either get attention or scare people from doing things which the Government may not readily accept. It goes without saying that the justice under ISA is subject to higher powers. Is Sarawak to have her own ISA? Before we know it, George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm may become reality for us.

A stinkbomb of a threat from the Deputy Chief Minister has not gone unnoticed either, “We shall stay united and will not allow anyone from outside the state to bully us… UMNO promises not to come into Sarawak as long as we are a stable and strong BN party.”

The irony about his threat is that UMNO wouldn't be seen as a threat if it didn't make the outlandish claims it did. Even if UMNO came into Sarawak, it will never change the Constitution. UMNO and the Deputy should go and read the Constitution of Malaysia.

If we use our imagination a bit and pretend for a while that the White Paper is now Law, will the leaders who strangle our children with quotas and suffocate our businesses with terms and conditions, will they be subject to this Law? After all the very first paragraph of the motion reads “actions with the tendency… to disrupt, undermine and destroy… the economic interests and progress of the State of Sarawak." Surely putting quotas and providing us with only 5% profit of our own produce falls under this category. And what of repossessing lands without compensation? What about failure to perform certain inherent job functions which results in poor infrastructure or letting criminals get away with daylight robbery?

AND what of the Deputy Chief Minister's threat above? That certainly falls under an action (speaking) with a tendency (nothing in the motion about intention remember?!) to disrupt peace and harmony. So what measures will the State take against him if this White Paper were law right here, right now?

The points raised in the White Paper is truly a fantastic idea and assuming the Chairman Backbencher who proposed it is not in cahoots with certain cronies, he certainly has my vote. However, the number of perched elephants in the room of DUN, purposely overlooked, is ridiculous to say the least and it shows the inability of certain quarters to look beyond their privileged piggy bank.

The benefits of the White Paper will depends on who it is really written for; whether it is really for the people or as another political blockade to prevent progress coming to Sarawak. The journey of the White Paper to Law will be long. During that time, perhaps we will be able to identify who the real ‘outsiders’ are.

If you would like to know more, Hornbill Unleashed has this to say about the White Paper.

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