If indeed it is true that there are people in Sarawak who feel that they live and function in a kind of cocoon, impervious to so-called “national issues,” I respectfully ask that they should please think again.
In recent times, because of climate change, we have had reports of how people in different parts of the world have lost homes, property, and loved ones to floods, earthquakes and storms, reacting with incredulity and shock, and saying that they had hitherto never entertained thoughts that such catastrophes would ever hit them or occur where they are. They didn’t think it would happen to them and therefore had not made adequate preparations to be able to cope with the ill-winds that blew their way. Caught unprepared, they suffered maximum damage to all things and persons dear to them.
Likewise, there are corners of the country, even right here in Kuala Lumpur in the thick of action, where we have people who do not think that there are such serious problems to such an extent as to endanger our nation and our preferred way of life. In Africa, yes but not here where we are – not in Sabah or Sarawak – not in Malaysia.
“All these KL issues are too far away and high up for us… ,” someone in Sibu has been reported to have said in response to issues raised by the opposition. This is predictably accompanied by calls for “local issues” rather than “national issues” to be raised in by-election campaign.
Accordingly, the government side would claim that the opposition side are doomsayers always seeking to frighten the local people and saying bad things about the country. In their script, we have it good in our country. Everybody has what they need in terms of human rights and fundamental liberties. Even if there are a few deficiencies, the people must understand that this is for the greater good of the populace. You have what we have given to you, what you can manage. To ask for anything more is to ask for trouble. Don’t rock the boat.
Thus, the opposition seems always to be the bearer of bad news. They seem never to be satisfied. The gospel according to the opposition is made to be perceived as unpatriotic, unsavoury, unseemly, treacherous.
To Christian believers in Sarawak, I respectfully say to you as a fellow Christian: the good news of the biblical gospel can only be understood and appreciated in the light of bad news. Bad news cannot be so easily dismissed. Facts remain as facts even though they are bad and may reflect badly on the good name of a person, people or country. When bad things happen in church, as a Christian I cannot just ignore them and keep quiet about the matter. How may we rectify anything which we don’t think is wrong? It is in facing up to the reality and truth of any given situation that good things and therefore good news can emerge from bad situations. It is when people face up to the bad news that concerns them that they can recognise and receive the good news.
If there are still people in Sarawak thinking that there is no freedom issues that affect them, religious or otherwise – they will need to think again. Yes there are always “local issues” and an elected member of parliament must seriously attend to them. But not at the expense of the many serious “national issues” the country faces. If left unresolved, these problem issues will boomerang and harm your children and their children in turn.
In this light, KL is afterall not so far away from Sibu so that the long arms of the sitting government cannot reach the people there. What is already happening in KL can happen anywhere in the furthest reaches of the Federation of Malaysia. The laws legislated in the federal parliament will be in effect everywhere in the country. For instance, if the Bahasa Malaysia Bible is restricted in the peninsular for whatever reason, the restrictions apply as well to Sabah and Sarawak even though at times and for a time its implementation there may be more lax.
The election of an MP therefore is so that we will have someone in the federal parliament who can effectively voice local issues in the light and weight of national issues. Preferably, someone who is not in casual denial of the serious problems the nation faces but who will fearlessly speak forth bad news in order to usher in the good news.
LB: This post originally appeared in the author’s blog, onGOHing.