By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
I had always thought that 2020 marks the death of Malaysia as a nation.
With the final brazen shout of 'Malaysia is Tanah Melayu' by an infamous MP in the Parliament recently, the coffin has been nailed shut.
Not just that, another was placed on the coffin of Malaysia with the 'Gelap Sangat MP'.
Such disgusting behaviors have come from a party whose DNA seems to have more filth than protein these past three decades. That party used to be the shining light of Malaysia, but now no more and going nowhere.
Its former president was just convicted of a crime against Malaysians by robbing the country of money for all our children. The great support given to the famous 'Bossku' speaks much about the Semenanjung Tanah Melayu as much as the Kongress Maruah Melayu.
Try and organize a Kongres Maruah Kadazan and the organizers might be quickly charged with sedition.
Malaysia is dead. It has no more soul left. The Kedah government that issued quick and uncompromising orders to remove unregistered shrines made sure of that.
There is nothing to save and nothing to salvage about Malaysia.
But now, suddenly a spark of possible life for the regeneration of Malaysia has emerged. A snap election is called as Sabah dissolved its assembly in the middle of unscrupulous people's representatives making sure they represent only themselves and their bank accounts perhaps.
Ahh…it's just another day in Malaysia!
But the jumping ADUNs are now caught with their pants down. An election is called and the people have marked in their smartphones who these jumpers are. It would be most surprising that these jumpers could ever jump anymore after 60 days have passed when the people use their sacred democratic right to show who actually are the ones who can say 'Ketuanan Tanah Airku'.
So, the spark of Malaysia's soul lies with the people of Sabah. There are no Melayu-Islamic rhetoric strong enough to fool or frighten the people. Roads will be paved and repaved. Poor dilapidated rumah kos rendah will be painted bright blue or red, depending on which party gives the money. It definitely won't be green. That party has no teeth in Sabah. That party has a big bite in four states in 'Tanah Melayu', but not in Sabah!
There are three important messages that the Sabah people can send to Tanah Melayu politicians. There are three things that the Sabahan can also inform strongly to all Malaysians.
The first is that Sabah is, always has been and will forever be, a model of Malaysia's racial and religious harmony.
There are no Islamic reformists here that can destroy the Constitution or its people towards a warped vision of Islam as a dominant force. It is good for Sabahans to remind the Muslims that Prophet Muhammad treated Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims with dignity and respect, not name-calling them pendatang or gelap or orang tumpangan.
In Sabah, all are in the family of Sabahans and Malaysians. In Sabah, all are treated equally with fairness, dignity and mutual respect.
The second message is that a Sabahan can be a candidate for the post of Malaysian prime minister. A Sabahan is a Malaysian. Whichever ethnic group a person belongs to, he or she is qualified to be the prime minister of Malaysia.
As Sabah is one third of Malaysia with Sarawak and Semenanjung Tanah Melayu being the other thirds, the cabinet must comprise no less than that proportion. Why must the premiership belong only to one particular ethnic group? Orang lain cacat kah?
The third message that the Sabahan can send is to political parties in Semenanjung Tanah Melayu. Sabahan does not need nor does it ever want any political party that thinks its leader is the only one 'privileged' to be the prime minister. If any one party harbors that notion, then Sabahan does not need its partnership. That notion violates the fundamental principle of being Malaysian…that all of us are equal under the Constitution of the country.
Now, some may disagree with me and say that there are others who are unequal and deserve 'special privileges'. Now if those people are the very poor, the ones left out of development and the ones totally ignored like the Orang Asli or the ethnic groups in Sabah's interiors, then I would agree. These people should be the ones with special privileges, regardless of race, religion or lifestyle.
Malaysia needs Sabah and Sabahans to resuscitate itself from a deep coma that hovers on death and destruction. Malaysia needs a serious shock to its system that has been plagued with race and religious rhetorics for the last four decades.
Let Sabah lead the way into a new vision of Malaysia, a country and nation for all citizens who value love, respect and dignity of one another regardless of faiths, skin color or social status.
Finally, to the Sabah people, I sincerely ask you to vote with a conscience, to vote with a vision and to vote with the hopes of all Malaysians.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)