Thursday, 13 November 2014

Alternative to Sedition Act is in Penal Code

I come from a Chinese Christian family. I have been labelled "pendatang" and "Cina Babi" all my life, but the Sedition Act is still irrelevant to me.
Well, many have said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali should be charged with sedition for threatening to burn the Christian Bible. There are also racists and even principals who have labelled the Chinese as “pendatang” or even “Cina Babi”.
Technically, these people have committed an offence under the Sedition Act for "promoting feelings of ill will and hostility between different races" – Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act 1948.
Is that so? Do we not have safeguards in place?
In fact, I do not need the Sedition Act to protect me. I do not need the Sedition Act to criminalise people like Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, Ridhuan Tee, Zulkifli Nordin or the infamous Ibrahim Ali.
Why? First, it is stupid to try preventing stupid people from saying stupid things.
I believe as a maturing democracy, what we can do to embrace such unintelligent comments, is to simply ignore them. It is akin to wind that carries a rotten smell. It does not hurt to ignore them.
But where do we draw the line?
In cases where threats to burn mosques, churches or temples, Section 295 of the Penal Code is there for you. It is a statutory offence to “destroy or damage places of worship with intent to insult other religion”.
What if someone says something of your religion that hurts your feeling? Well, Section 298 of the Penal Code makes it an offence to intentionally hurt the religion feelings of another.
S298 is similar to the Sedition Act in a sense that it criminalises offensive speech against other religion. The only demarcation being the need to prove the intention under s298, to which the Sedition Act does not require so.
How does the Penal Code deal with speeches that offend one's religion, resulting in disharmony, disunity, feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will? In Ibrahim's case where he threatened to burn the Christian Bible, he would have fallen under S298A of the Penal Code.
Nowadays, anything and everything on the royalty is an offence. One cannot speak or criticise constructively, because it has seditious tendencies.
There was a brief Twitter sensation with the hashtag ‪#‎SultanBukanTuhan a while ago. People were being questioned and charged for comments made against the royalty.
Those comments, in my opinion, were uncalled for and ridiculous, but then again, stupid and unintelligent comments are all over the Net, most of the time with anonymous Facebook or Twitter accounts. So the question – is it a crime to be stupid?
Freedom of expression? I would say it is pertinent, but such freedom is not an absolute freedom. So a line has to be drawn. Now where is the line?
Section 121 of the Penal Code protects the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultans and di-Pertua Negeri.
It is an offence to "hurt, cause the death, imprison or restrain" the rulers. It is vital to note here, that this section protects the physical security of the rulers. That's the demarcation.
So how do we deal with people who incite racial disunity that causes physical hurt to another? For example, if a racist incites a repetition of May 13, or a call to bathe a knife with a certain race's blood?
Section 504 and Section 505 would be the answer. It is an offence to "insult with an intention to provoke a breach of peace" (Section 504) and also a crime to "make statements that incites public mischief" (Section 505).
These are some basic examples and there are plenty more in the Penal Code to safeguard racially or religiously offensive speech.
All in all, the distinction between these provisions illustrated above and the Sedition Act is the presence of an intention. The intention to cause physical hurt, death, public unrest and so on.
The problem with the Sedition Act is the disregard for such intentions. The presence of a seditious remark is all that is needed. This includes, someone hacking your Facebook or Twitter account by saying something “seditious”. See the dangers now? – October 17, 2014.

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Is this what ‘perjuangan’ is about?

Please note that the huge error here is the use of Nelson Mandela instead of Mahatma Gandhi.

Nelson Mandela once said "there is no easy walk for freedom anywhere, and many of us will pass through the valley of shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires".
Mandela himself spent 27 years in prison before driving the world's second-largest population towards independence from colonisation.
October 28 and 29 will be a crucial date for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. But, in fact, it is wrong to view this as a personal battle between an oppressive regime and Anwar. It is battle of a nation against a regime that has been suppressing dissidents since time immemorial.
For Lensa, perhaps the only way to “berjuang” is by taking the streets, and since people are sick of the sun and scorching heat, Anwar should give up with the struggle.
But for the many other Malaysians out there who do not take the streets, they too are tired. However, instead of being tired from going to the streets, they are tired with the never-ending selective prosecution, corruption and abuse of power by the Barisan Nasional government.
I find this extremely confusing. As a youth non-governmental organisation that supports and endorses Mahasiswa Ganyang Akta Hasutan (Ganyang) and the struggle to end the Sedition Act, they should have fully understood that this is another form of intimidation and selective prosecution.
People like Anwar are prisoners of conscience. 
The common enemy is the current oppressive regime that has been immobilising dissents and freedom every Malaysian yearn for.
Instead of being united, some resort to attacks from within, which will indirectly strengthen the current establishment.
If one were to view Anwar's Sodomy 2 as a personal battle, they are missing the point. This is akin to saying Mandela's struggle for South Africa's independence was a personal struggle between him and the British.
In Malaysian history, many have come and gone. But the distinction between Reformasi 1.0 and other struggles is the significance it has brought 10 years down the road in GE12.
GE12 and GE13 are a testament that Malaysians have to be united and rally under one cause. For the first time in history, Malaysian politics have seen an opposition powerful enough to deny BN a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
For the first time, the ruling coalition lost five states.
As proposed by Saudara Ekhsan from Lensa, Anwar should retire and enjoy the benefits from the government as deputy prime minister or even the special position offered by the Turkish government.
This reflects nothing but the shallow-mindedness of some who give up their struggles when tempted with perks. It is an indication such “political frog culture” has been planted somewhere.
Is this what “perjuangan” is about? The sort of unprincipled stance displayed by political frogs? Is this the type of “politik habuan” that Malaysians voters wish politicians subscribe to?
The selective persecutions against Anwar and other opposition politicians speak volume. It is crystal clear through the Internal Security Act (now repealed), Ops Lalang, Sodomy 1, Sodomy 2 and the current sedition dragnet.
Is this indication not clear enough?
A genuine battle for the nation cannot be bought simply with a deputy prime ministerial post, what more a special position by a foreign government.
Ekhsan Bukharee himself has court charges looming over his head.
In fact, many in Lensa are themselves prisoners of conscience facing jail time soon. Are we going to invite him to step down and retire?
Several other opposition politicians and activists are facing selective prosecutions as well. Are they supposed to give up the struggle? – October 18, 2014.

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Silver Lining to the Selangor MB Crisis

I have a dream. A dream to see the values of democracy and freedom of expression being cherished through sufficient checks and balance in a government system.
The scientific rule is, "to every force is a reaction". Similarly, in a democracy, "there will be objections to every decision made".
I would say, perhaps it is a disguised blessing when voters become generally more critical of Pakatan Rakyat administrations. The standards set are much higher, and this is good for the people.
The closest is perhaps the Perak constitutional crisis or the Terengganu MB crisis.
The earlier provided a lot of debating points in 2009 and it resurfaced in view of the Selangor MB crisis. The latter, however, did not offer much debates as it was quickly shot down by mainstream media.
Of course, Barisan Nasional would tell you it is because they are efficient. But who knows the story behind the scene anyway?
There were a lot of talks from the way the Kajang Move was triggered, to Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's sacking, then Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah's sole nomination all the way to Azmin Ali's appointment.
The spotlight in my opinion, was Dr Wan Azizah's eligibility as MB. It is no doubt the biggest debate on an opposition party's MB nomination since time immemorial.
Her proponents argued on her credentials and a positive breakthrough for women in politics, coupled with considerations she had the majority support of the state assembly. Her opponents on the other hand, argued on her gender and role as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's wife.
Wait, what? Gender?
The way Dr Wan Azizah's nomination was scrutinised was very different from any MBs or chief ministers in the history of Malaysian politics. The fact that she is a woman and happens to be the wife of the most famous politician in Malaysia has basically overshadowed her achievements as a mother, a wife and a politician.
But this is the fruit of a democracy. Though I am tempted to dismiss such opponents for undervaluing the meaning democracy and freedom of expression, I concur that differences in opinion are part and parcel of an everyday life.
From the food we eat, to the cloths we wear, or even the best football team in the Premier League, we are divided.
In this case, if Dr Wan Azizah's opponents put much more emphasis on gender, it is their prerogative, because that's their voice. They feel the need to place heavier weight to gender than merits.
Let's look to the other side of the fence. It is quite clear to me that BN MBs or CMs enjoy lesser scrutiny. What Dr Wan Azizah got screened thoroughly is a normal pass for BN MBs or CMs.
Were they scrutinised thoroughly for being Datuk Seri Najib Razak's remote-control MB? Were they scrutinised thoroughly for nepotism or corruption?
BN seems to be slightly different. Perhaps, they have accustomed minds to think that corruption is part and parcel of a BN MB's credential. The more allegations you have, the better it is.
So how far are we from enjoying the fruits of a democracy who values freedom of expression?
I can say perhaps half way there. While we demand for our voices to be heard, are we at the same time willing to hear dissidents out?
Comparatively between BN and Pakatan, the latter seems to have higher level of tolerance towards the ideals of democracy and freedom of expression.
There is scrutiny from within Pakatan itself. But can they take this system to Putrajaya?

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Did you know you could face the Sedition Act for a hacked Facebook status?

                The right to freedom of speech and expression is enshrined in the Federal Constitution under Article 10 (1). This freedom however, is not an absolute right, as Parliament under certain circumstances may impose restrictions as provided under Article 10 (2). As we move into a phase where the demand for information is at an all-time high, we too witness the Malaysian society maturing politically and ideologically. As such, the need for such freedom is all the more justified. The limbo however, lies between what is constructive criticism and what is seditious.
                As articulated by most opponents of the Sedition Act, this Act has to go because of three distinctive elements:  Firstly, the scope of what can be considered “seditious” is in fact a carte blanche for those in power to silence dissidents or critics. Secondly, the blatant disregard of whether this “seditious” words or material is in fact the truth, goes against the very purpose of having laws enacted. Finally, the ignorance of the accused’s motives will result in constructive argument being stemmed.
                Section 3(1)(a) to Section 3(1)(f) explains what is considered seditious. But the problem with these provisions is, they are worded too loosely and broadly. The words “hatred”, “contempt”, “dissatisfaction” and “discontent” under section 3(1)(a) for example, are extremely subjective. It is your word against my word up to the judge to decide.
If a citizen were to allege the government of corruption and cause dissatisfaction among the people against the government, he could be charged and possibly be sentenced under Section 3(1)(a) of the Act. Who then, can challenge government policies or point out mistakes? What then, is the opposition for?
On the other hand, certain provisions under this Act might seem to justify the need of this Act. Section 3(1)(e) provides that promotion of ill will or hostility between race or class is tantamount to sedition. Let us take a break and look at reality, the likes of certain rights group leaders inciting Muslims to burn bibles containing the word “Allah”, or even certain teachers or principles recommending students of certain ethnicity to go back to their country of origin. Worse still, we previously had certain Ministers or leaders of a certain political party threatening to soak the keris with a certain race’s blood. Don’t any of these situations then, fall under Section 3(1)(e)? Question is, were any of them charged? If no, this might well be a case of selective prosecution.
Secondly, the blatant disregard of the validity of “seditious” remarks suggests that the importance of silencing critics outweigh the importance of seeking truth and justice. Going back to the first example involving corruption, the whistleblower mentioned would probably still be charged under this draconian law even if what he alleged was true. On many occasions over the past 50 years we have witnessed the use of this trump card. Lim Guan Eng’s Sedition trial in 1997 is a clear cut example of how legitimate criticism can be silenced.
Thirdly, the absence of proving the intention of the seditious materials uttered. I was taught in criminal law the importance of a coincidence of an actus reus and a mens rea in ensuring nobody is subject to imprisonment without a proper trial. Hence, a person should only be criminalized for a crime he intended. Now how important is this intention for the Sedition Act?
For example, if someone takes your cellphone and update a Facebook status that insults the Agong, you could end up being in trouble for that insulting status. Why? Because all that is needed is the seditious material, and your intention is disregarded. So even though you did not intend such derogatory remarks, you could well end up being called up for an investigation.
It is surprising to know that this 1948 Act was in fact never used, or at most on rare circumstances used by the British despite it being enacted for the purpose of stemming communist insurgencies.  It is even more surprising to know that this 1948 Act came into live only after 1957, after Malaya got its independence. What paradox, I am truly perplexed. The British have left, communism ideologies no longer have a foothold, but this Act remains in Malaysia being used by Malaysians against Malaysians.
A few months ago, our Prime Minister lamented the fact that Human Rights, of which freedom of expression is one of the many guarantees under it, is a form of disguise of Western influence. Proponents of this Sedition Act has also voiced out the importance of curbing freedom of speech to maintain peace and public order. But is this the case?
I beg to differ. The Sedition Act is not needed because there are other existing laws under the Penal Code for such circumstance. On another note, Parliament could also table new Bills to curb racially aggravated speeches or actions. An example is the Harmony Bills being spearheaded by the National Unity Consultative Council. So is peace and public order really the concern, or just another argument without empirical evidences?
Perhaps, freedom of expression is not something Malaysian authorities cherish. This is further evident through the refusal to commit to the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights 1966.  Surprisingly, countries like Congo (in 1976), Egypt (in 1982) and Indonesia (in 2006) has signed and ratified the ICCPR into domestic laws. China has been a signatory to it since 2008 but have yet to ratify it. We call ourselves a moderate country, but is that the case?

Written on the 11th of July as part of my compulsory ASASI Internship Programme review on the Sedition Act.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Who Really Benefits from Boilerplate Legal Documents

Is a standard template or app the key to bringing down legal fees? Would there be setbacks? Would the law become more accessible and understandable? These are questions both lawyers and public must weigh and consider before liberating the legal profession to non-legally trained Malaysians.
In principle, I agree that lower legal fees would mean better accessibility by ordinary Malaysians. It was argued that documents such as sales and purchase agreements, uncontested wills and probate, accident claims, divorce petitions, mitigation and bail in criminal cases are not as complicated as imagined, and therefore the public can cut down on legal fees through readily made templates and apps.
But before agreeing that templates and apps are a feasible move, it is important for the public to be aware and cautious of the possible pitfalls that might result in a layperson going through cumbersome disputes in the future.
To sink deeper into the mire, the laws governing the validity of these agreements differ according to states and places. Now, would a layperson be fully aware of these? The pitfalls are there. If overlooked, one might not even be aware of a breach.
To put these into perspective: A buyer of a newly-built landed house might be able to draft a self-written S&P agreement, but what about a faulty land title which the layperson is not aware of? Or perhaps an apartment without a strata title which has changed hands a few times? Does a layperson know he risks being at the mercy of the developer’s prudence? Will he know the risks should he decide to resell the property in the future?
Unlike applications or forms, a person drafting legal documents cannot safely complete an agreement simply by filling up the blanks. Lawyers are trained to deal with banks, proprietors, land offices and developers, and most importantly, they are trained to foresee the risks and implications involved.
Have you not heard that even lawyers do run into trouble sometimes? When a layperson runs into trouble, where will he go? Back to a lawyer of course. At the end of the day, would it be cheaper or costlier? It very much depends, really. It is irresponsible for lawyers to lead the public into a minefield which might eventually expose them to more risks resulting in even costlier legal fees.
What about criminal cases involving the liberty of the accused? Would a layperson be able to fathom the factors and considerations taken into account by the judge during the mitigation process? It takes skills to persuade a judge, and these advocacy skills are not easily grasped, even by lawyers themselves.
What about bails? Would the public be able to distinguish the difference between a bond and a bail? Or perhaps the difference between a bailable offence, non-bailable offence and unbailable offence? These are important aspects of the law a layperson has to understand.
Secondly, it is certainly true that a liberalised legal profession would mean end users benefit the most. Generally, prices will go down and quality will improve when there is stiffer competition.
However, it is very misleading to cite the Alternative Business Structure (ABS) in UK as a perfect example for the public to do their own S&P agreements. The ABS which was formed in 2011 through the Legal Services Act 2007 allows non-law firms to own legal practices. It is a game changer not for laypersons, but for firms or multi-national companies to provide competition in the market.
As of January 2014, a report by LexisNexis showed that 136 law firms (mainly small firms) have closed down. And in the UK’s case, it is because the big firms running ABS have gobbled up a big share of the legal services market.
These ABS “outlets” are run by laypersons. There are strict rules and conditions attached to be fulfilled before a licence is obtained, for example the strict requirement for a certain percentage of lawyers to be on board. They sit through courses and tests in order to obtain the licence. Hence, are they really laypeople after all? Not really.
It is very easy for proponents to turn this into a rice bowl argument, but are all lawyers as rich as perceived? Certainly not, because we are seeing small law firms closing down because they cannot eke a living. In the present system, the legal profession is an open market and you are free to choose your lawyers. If indeed lawyers are bound by the law to charge a certain percentage, then the problem does not lie with the lawyers but the legislation.
Accorded, there are perhaps lawyers who do not take pride in the works they do and only care about overcharging, but that does not warrant the whole legal profession becoming undermined.
Look at the nitty-gritty and consider the pitfalls of it. Is it really feasible and beneficiary for a layperson? Ultimately, as members of the distinguished legal profession upholding justice, the worst thing one can be accused of is leading the public into a minefield. – September 26, 2014.

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Back PM in repealing Sedition Act

First, I must backdate my praise for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to promising to repeal the Sedition Act in 2012.
This promise came at a timely manner because at this juncture, Malaysia is becoming a mature democracy.
Colonial-era laws like the Internal Security Act and Sedition Act have no place in a society that upholds the rule of law and freedom of expression.
In recent times, certain quarters have raised the concerns of possible instability that will rock the nation once the Sedition Act is gone, especially with regard to racial tension.
These concerned social media users have gone on a campaign on Twitter to #kekalkanaktahasutan.
As Khairy Jamaluddin (Umno Youth chief) and Tan Keng Liang (Gerakan Youth chief) pointed out two weeks ago, the Sedition Act should not be repealed hastily, as there might be drawbacks.
But be rest assured guys, the prime minister and his team had thought this out back in 2013, even before the Youth chiefs realised it. Nevertheless, do not blame the Youth chiefs, for they, too, are concerned about the country.
In November 2013, the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) was set up to foster racial harmony and social cohesion.
This brainchild initiative reflects the peace and prosperity Najib champions. Therefore, heaps of praises should be showered upon the man for being a visionary leader. Kudos!
In view of the concerted efforts by NUCC, we should acknowledge the spirit of inclusivity Najib has tried instilling through his transformation programmes.
Ever since the NUCC's launch, a nationwide endeavour has been embarked on. Civil society movements, NGOs, students, experts in the law and even politicians from both sides of the fence were invited and consulted.
I attended at least two of these consults, and I can vouch that the Harmony Bills drafted are getting better and better. As far as my memory permits me, this is the first of its kind in Malaysia where the public is engaged to produce quality legislation.
Of course, there are segments in society, dissidents especially, who are up in arms because the government seems to be dragging its foot on this.
The de facto law minister, Nancy Shukri has reassured us, the proposed bills would not be tabled in Parliament in 2014. But fear not, here's my two cents worth of advice: hold your horses dudes and dudettes, do you not know, that a qualitative and inclusive bill needs time to be finalised?
Have you forgotten how the Peaceful Assembly Act was rushed? A nationwide campaign for feedback is not an easy task, so give them time, even if years.
The government has always been listening to us, so blame yourselves for having so much to say every day on Twitter and Facebook. Haven't you heard, "Apa lagi lu mahu"? There is simply too much for them to listen and digest!
I believe, Najib is the man for the job. He is a prime minister for all Malaysians, a visionary and an inclusive leader.
Therefore, I call upon all Malaysians to rally behind Najib in his concerted effort to repeal the Sedition Act. Back the boss!
It his time the nation stand as one to support a great cause initiated by the PM himself.
The country will be on a standstill if he is left alone in this battle! Last I check, we were glued to the television screen as 1Malaysia regardless of race and religion when Datuk Lee Chong Wei was playing badminton.
I say, it is only appropriate now that we glue ourselves to local dailies everyday as 1Malaysia, praying and hoping the Sedition Act is announced repealed. Till then, I will be gluing myself on social media sites for updates. – September 20, 2014.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Balancing Racial Harmony on UKEC's 8th Malaysian Student Leaders Summit

I started off as a cheerful young boy receiving primary school education at a Chinese vernacular school in East Malaysia. At the age of 13, I attended public school. Subsequently, I was given a choice to either pursue form six in a public school or A-levels in a private institution, and I opted for the latter. I completed my A-levels, and here I am, in West Malaysia, pursuing my first degree in a private institution.

I consider myself a privileged Malaysian to be exposed to a variety of education system, both in East and west Malaysia. Spare me a few minutes, to share what I have I have been exposed to these years.

Coming from an English speaking family, I was fortunate to have the importance of English instilled in me at a very young age. It was also smooth sailing throughout my primary school days as I had to only deal with people “my type”. So it was pretty much an enclosed circle, where we had to learn Chinese together, and consequently, it became our medium of communication. It is instinctive, or part of my roots I would say.

What I did not realize, is something I experienced during the transition period between a Chinese vernacular school and a public school. Last I recalled, it was pretty tough. It was the first time in my life I am exposed to people “not my type”. Spare me the criticisms before I continue. What I mean by “not my type”, is the Malays and other indigenous people of Sabah, to be precise the Kadazan Dusun Murut community. They do not speak Chinese and very few of them speak fluent English. To make things worse, even the food we eat and the way we eat is different! I was not a fan of spicy food back then, and seeing people eat with hands, was something very strange to me. They say people are scared of things they do not know, and it really applies to situations like this. I felt that life was difficult because most my schoolmates are “not my type”.

But as time went on, I began having a taste bud for spicy food and got used to seeing my fellow classmates eat with hands. I even started conversing in Malay more frequently. This habit was brought back home. I remember the weird look my “kakak” gave me when I asked her to cook things like “rendang” and “ayam masak merah”. Even my mother did, when I started speaking Malay to her.

Thinking back, I had a great time throughout my secondary school days. I played football together and skipped classes togetherwith people “not my type”. At times, we would even be reprimanded together after being caught “escaping” school. I remember climbing over the fences of our school gate and even running as fast as we can to avoid being caught. We were “bad boys” back then in an all-boys school, or rather “naughty boys” feeling on top of the world every time we did something against the rules.

Hey, we are not that different after all. I soon realized that despite coming from different backgrounds and classes in society, we are similar to each other. This was something I enjoyed throughout my primary and secondary school days. All in all, a big chunk of the fun part, were with people “not my type”.

Then came another transition period when I enrolled into a private institution for the first time. People around me conversed either in English or Chinese. It was a like a long gone memory being recalled and revived. Strangely this time, I did not feel comfortable. I could sense the prejudicial sentiments of some people “my type”, feeling they were a class above others, both financially and intellectually. It is certainly not pleasant to hear people “not my type” being generalized as racists or lazy people. I have spent 5 years with them, and all I have, are good memories. Till today, I maintain a good relationship with these people who are “not my type”. 

Here I am today, also in a private institute, but in West Malaysia instead of East Malaysia. It is the same, probably worse. Racism is not something done behind the scenes; it is on the front page of mainstream media made by public figures. Tales of temples, places of worship, premises and outlets being raided without proper justifications was something I have never heard of in the East. I have to admit I experienced a culture shock. The unthinkable efforts being made to drive the wedge between races, and brickbats swung to widen the gaps between Malaysians. I was given an impression, that West Malaysia is a battlefield. It was tougher than ever, and I needed three months to adapt.

What happened to the Malaysia I read on my history text books in public school? “Malaysia, truly Asia” feels nothing more than a slogan on giant billboards. It is not something I can truly feel from my heart. Back in the East when Europeans or foreigners tell me how multiethnic societies cohabit together without issues, I would brim with a smile. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear any of such comments here.

The joke of Sabahans living on trees is unheard of, but it was pretty disappointing also, to realize that there are in fact people in KL who did not know Kota Kinabalu is in Sabah. I did not take it as an insult, instead I found it amusing. Back in Sabah, there were not less than five occasions where I encountered questions like “Adrian study mana nanti?”, and I would tell them “KL”. You would not imagine the expression on their faces. To these villagers, KL is akin to a total different country, a class above everywhere else in Malaysia because of the infrastructure and intelligence of its people. Hence, it felt like an oxymoronic situation, where people who were thought of as “extra intelligent” do not in fact know the Malaysian map!

I do not hold grudges against these people. In fact, for a start, the blame could not be placed entirely on them. Instead, I felt it was the administration’s ignorance that resulted in such ignorance. Misleading history text books, one sided news and lopsided reporting all play a crucial part. Needless I add, all these play a role in the divisive Malaysia we are in today.

To make matters worse, the East Malaysian citizens are often the ones overlooked. Despite the state’s wealthy resources, Sabah remains the poorest state in Malaysia up to 2013. Likewise in Sarawak, despite having vast resources, we have yet to see it developing proportionally.

We have to admit, Malaysia is divided in many ways. Despite the racial tolerance Sabahans and Sarawakians enjoy, it comes at a price- the continued erosion of the natural resources and rights. The Peninsular on the other hand, enjoys vast development, but it loses out in terms of racial tolerance. Admit it, we are divided.

On the bright side however, we can see hope. There is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Politicians who were racists were rejected by electorates. These changes need time. While we admire the tolerance and development both infrastructure wise and intellectually of countries like the United States or United Kingdom, we have to accept that they have been independent long before Malaysia did. Society has to go through trials and turbulences to reach a certain level of maturity. But do not be discouraged. Every participant joining the coming Malaysian Student Leaders Summit has a burning desire to steer the nation to greater heights. We can learn from the past to make Malaysia a better place.