This one is for Kenny Sia, who commented in my earlier posting Malaysians divided & conquered! to let us know why, as a Sarawakian, he thinks being in Malaysia sucks, or rather, that Malaysia is sucking Sarawak’s resources without a commensurate return for his State.
Believe me, I am THE best person to soothe his anger and hopefully correct his perception because 1st-ly I am KTemoc - dei, that counts for something, surely - and 2nd-ly, I am a Penangite, and being one, I do understand Kenny’s feelings.
Like him I am proud of my State, Penang, and thus am a proud Penangite just as he is a proud Sarawakian. And let me tell everyone there's no one more proud than a Penangite – don't believe me, ask any Penangite ;-)
I was once punched in the guts by a slightly inebriated Ipoh bloke when I reminded him of this. I maintained my cool and dignity by not responding - actually I was so winded I couldn’t utter a word or do anything.
And like Kenny, I am also a Malaysian – However, I don't feel the need to choose between the two, that is, being a Penangite first or Malaysian first? To me they are synonymous. Mind you, when the Penang soccer team is competing with the other 'lesser' states ;-) I am definitely a Penangite, and I love it when Penang crushed Perak [because of that Ipoh Mike Tyson].
Yes, I understand why Sarawakians feel they are cheated because many Penangites feel that way too – for example, the tax free port status that we once enjoyed was removed from us, while Langkawi sort of inherited it. But feeling cheated is not the same as being cheated.
1st-ly, in the formation of Malaysia - this was of course way before off-shore oil became viable for extraction after the Arab-dominated OPEC oil cartel punished the West (make that the USA) for supporting Israel during the 1973 War - I heard from old timers that the Tunku's plan originally was to use Brunei's wealth to develop Sarawak [any clarification/expansion on this would be appreciated], but when the late Sultan of Brunei changed his mind at the last minute, the new Malaysian state suffered a severe setback in its financial and development planning.
The Tunku was so pissed off with the Sultan that in a spate of petulant vindictiveness, overnight, he withdrew all the Malaysian policemen and other government professionals serving in Brunei, leaving the Brunei state in a security and administrative lurch. The Brits moved in promptly to fill the gap.
Then Konfrantasi [Confrontation] started. President Sukarno had delusions of re-creating the great Sri Vijayan (or Majapahit) Empire that stretched all the way up north to Cambodia, perhaps fantasizing himself as the maharajah Chakravarti Devaanaampriya [Emperor, Beloved of the Gods] of Nusantara Indah. OK, KTemoc is just being creative in allocating the late Sukarno with those Hindu names here - blogger's licence ;-) But you know what the God do to those they love - yes, the divine ones made them mad first!
Apart from Commonwealth forces, many Peninsula servicemen and police served in Sarawak to resist the Indonesian intrusions. After Konfrantasi, the Malaysian communist insurgency that was still prevalent in Peninsula Malaysia was also experienced in Sarawak. A number of Peninsula servicemen and police died in those two conflicts in Sarawak.
If we hadn't resisted with many sacrifices, even of Malaysian lives, today we would be addressing Kenny as bapak Sia - ya dong?
T’was not an easy stretch of period for any development to take place in Sarawak! Lots of money were thrown into the counter-insurgency campaigns which we won after years of effort and many sacrifices. Also, it should be noted that Sarawak has generally been keeping the central government out except on matters which they couldn’t, like defence and internal security.
However, I have many Sarawakian friends over in Peninsula Malaysia who have benefited from the lack of restriction for Sabahans and Sarawakians seeking employment or domicile in Peninsula. And to rub it in our faces, many married beautiful Peninsula women - yes, lots of nyeh nyeh nyeh from those blokes.
On matters of oil and gas, these are national resources that come under the control of the national government with royalties paid to the state. It would be unreasonable for states to demand total control and benefits of such assets while the central government remains responsible for national defence and security arrangements and miscellaneous services such as health.
The perception of being cheated could well lie in the effects of the above reasons and events, and also the consequences of corruption including those perpetrated by Sarawakian officials themselves - the benefits haven't drizzled down sufficiently.
Now, at the beginning I mentioned that Penangites are the proudest Malaysians but, please keep this a secret, we do in fact have a shame, an Achilles heel, so to speak – yes, he's certainly a heel, and goes by the name of Koh TK.
Would you Sarawakians like to have him? No charge! He is a sort of an inverse-Moses because it’s guaranteed, he can turn beautiful pristine streams and rivers into smelly filthy drains with brackish polluted somethingy. He could easily get rid of your 1000 kg crocs (if you guys are worried about the reptiles), but unfortunately you would have to sacrifice your marvellous udang galah [giant river prawns] of the Rejang River along with that. See, you don't have the problems we Penangites suffer from!