Seeking the truth and patriotism
The recent articles in the Borneo Post on the lack of enthusiasm for flying the Jalur Gemilang and the comments of several ministers on “irresponsible people”, “petty issues” and “keep the peace” prompted me to reflect on the whole issue of seeking the truth and patriotism - are they mutually exclusive? What is the underlying issue here?
What is petty to a minister may be of crucial importance to a citizen who is seeking the truth. Most of the people raising these so-called “petty issues” are not politicians but educated and intelligent citizens of this country. The government should not dismiss their concerns nor trivialise them.
They are aware of the emerging truth of the situation we are in and of our rights - as individuals, communities and as a country. They have come to realise what was said by Albert Einstein many years ago, that “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth”. This is why people are willing to voice their opinions.
It is no answer to those questioning the relevance to Sarawak of Malaya’s Independence Day to say that the day is now changed to National Day and we must celebrate that day as patriotic Malaysians. By saying that, is the government admitting that Sarawakians have been hoodwinked all these years? Why is it necessary to invent some justification for us to sing the tune of the federal BN government?
When Sarawakians question this issue, it does not mean that we are not patriotic - we merely want the truth to be acknowledged. People want to know why the government insists on celebrating Aug 31 in Sarawak.
If we are to celebrate the spirit of being Malaysians, our harmony and mutual respect, etc, we can do that very well on Malaysia Day, which we will commemorate as patriotic Malaysians. It is not necessary to devote two days of celebrations and incur double the expense each year to that.
The whole issue boils down to this: the people resent the many unjust policies of the government - suppression of the truth, rewriting of our history, curbing of religious freedom, abuse of land rights, arbitrary award of scholarships, unfair recruitments and promotions in the civil service, award of contracts to cronies, etc.
The government is even ignoring the decision of the courts on some of these issues. These issues, if not addressed and corrected, are the issues that will cause disunity and splits in the community eventually. These are matters the ministers should be addressing, instead of trying to force the people to believe in something that is not true by threatening them with the bogeyman of disunity and the like.
The BN government must start to listen to the voices of the rakyat and be responsive to the sentiment on the ground. By righting wrongs, they will earn the respect of the people. By dismissing the people’s concerns and issuing threats, the government continues to suppress the people and earn their ire.
The vitriolic and vulgar racially-charged comments posted in social media telling us to leave Malaysia are the comments that should cause the ministers concern, and those commentators should be the ones investigated by the government, not those seeking the truth.
Regrettably, humility to accept the truth seems to be an insurmountable hurdle for many.
BARU BIAN is the state assemblyperson for Ba'kelalan and Sarawak PKR chief.