Hornbill Unleashed

September 11, 2016

When Did Sarawakians Become Overly Sensitive?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:02 PM

LAST week, Sarawak social media was abuzz with negative and hate comments over the whole ‘#rantaisalib’ issue in Serian, Sarawak. Parents and local community leaders in Serian have criticised a principal of a local secondary school from Semenanjung for barring students from wearing the cross or other Christian symbols at school.

The state government has launched an investigation on the matter and the principal has since been reprimanded for his action by the Serian PPD. The principal has also apologised to the student, the parents and the local Christian leader and community for his actions.

The exact details of the incident aside, the backlash on the controversy which has gone viral on social media is damaging to the already tensed relationship between Sarawak and Semenanjung, or as a Sarawakian like to call it, ‘Malaya’.

Truth be told, this is not the first incident involving teachers from Semenanjung that is in deep waters because of their insensitivity and ignorance of the locals and the culture in Sarawak. Other cases involving government officers from Malaya that is seen insensitive to the ‘uniqueness’ of Sarawakians over the years and has gone viral raises the question whether Sarawakians have become overly sensitive on all matters related to Sarawak?

sarawakThis and other similar issues such as the argument over whether Sarawakians need to celebrate August 31, the moratorium on Petronas and the demand for 20% royalty has been plaguing social media. At the end of the day, it’s all centred on the same issue; Sarawakians feel that they are the ‘victims’ of ‘orang Malaya’.

Looking back, where did it all went wrong? Sarawakians are known for and proud of their ability to tolerate, accept and live peacefully with over 30 races of different cultural background, religion and beliefs. Sarawak’s unique history and socio-geography has enabled Sarawakians to be the epitome of society living harmoniously.

However, this claim has fallen short of the mark based on the condemning comments and posts by so called ‘Sarawakians’ aimed to create animosity and hatred between Sarawak and Semenanjung. The anti-Malaya and anti-Malaya sentiments is easily propagated on social media. Opportunistic and selfish individuals or groups such as Sarawak 4 Sarawakians and a few short sighted opposition leaders are quick to cash in and fan the animosity and hatred amongst Sarawakians.

It is wise to bear in mind that such incidents do not reflect the overall sentiments of ‘orang Malaya’ towards Sarawakians. Though the unfortunate few may have acted in poor judgement, it is doubtful that it was done deliberately to ‘victimize’ Sarawakians.

sarawakWe, especially Sarawakians should not be so quick to judge. Our response on such issues reflects on our faith, beliefs, values, morals, upbringing and maturity of our mind. It shows the world what kind of people we are. Why should we fall for the ‘hate-culture’?

Sarawakians, Sabahans, Johoreans, or whatever you may want to call yourself, at the end of the day, we are all Malaysians. We are all part of a larger family, united by our diversity, our hopes and our dreams for a better Malaysia. We are the fruits of our forefather’s struggle and fight for freedom and independence.

We Malaysians are part of a big family. There should be no room for racism, bigotry, hate and fear mongering in our hearts. A famous quote states that “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”  In the same respect, a family estranged will never know peace or harmony. Be proud to be Sarawakian. Be prouder to be a Malaysian.

Maryam M. Richardson is an independent analyst and Malaysian Access reader.




  1. The Muslim community in Sarawak and Sabah should also be more aware of certain quarter insisting that all Muslim girls and women must cover their heads. Up to 30 years ago Sarawak Muslims do not have such issue and the Muslim girls and women never needed to prove their faith by covering their heads. Inadvertently such requirements imposed on Muslim girls and women in Sarawak will lead to a divisive inclination. Although some may prefer to go to schools owned by the mission they will still tend to stick to their tudung click and falsely believe they are more holy than others.

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — September 12, 2016 @ 12:04 PM | Reply

    • Perhaps Fatimah Abdullah also felt that way and believed she was more Malay and more Muslim than most Muslims.

      Comment by Danny Jacob — September 12, 2016 @ 2:49 PM | Reply

  2. Are you saying that we should be turning the other cheek all the time? Religious bigotry and racist behaviour, especially committed by one who is an educator should be nipped in the bud quickly. Otherwise, it will be taken as a license to rampage. It was reported that headmaster concerned was transferred from another school where he was a teacher for converting an underaged student without parental permission. The fact that he was subsequently promoted to headmaster and still not remorseful of what he did previously does ring an alarm bell. Defending the man is excusable unless you are likeminded.

    Comment by apai — September 12, 2016 @ 9:24 AM | Reply

  3. When you are too nice and too accommodating, naturally other people will take advantage of you … stupid

    Comment by Tigeryk — September 12, 2016 @ 8:29 AM | Reply

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