Friday, April 04, 2014
Trouble in Paradise - What Paradise?
INITIALLY I had not wanted to comment on the kidnapping of a China tourist from a diving resort off the eastern coast of Sabah on April 2.
With so many tourists from China now roaming the globe and kidnapping being such a common criminal activity in Sabah, I considered this latest incident as another stale news until I read in today’s Star the headline that reads: Trouble in Paradise Again.
Let me be very frank and open. I have lost confidence in our ability to defend the sovereignty of this part of the country and to protect lives and properties of its residents and visitors.
When the Filipino gunmen seized 21 foreign tourists and Malaysian resort employees from Pulau Sipadan in 2000, I went to see the rescue operations. The delegation was led by then Defence Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. He was accompanied by the Tawau MP, Shafie Apdal.
We flew in RMAF helicopters, rode the Royal Malaysian Navy’s fast commando assault boats and had a briefing on the training ship, KD Hang Tuah.
The whole exercise was to assure the Sabahans and tourists that there would not be a repeat of the incident and that they were safe.
Thirteen years had passed. Mohd Najib has become the Prime Minister but the Sabah coast is no safer. On the contrary it has become more lawless and dangerous.
Incursions, kidnapping and outright attacks have become so common that assurances mean little or nothing at all anymore.
So what paradise is The Star talking about?
To save whatever is left our reputation and credibility, we should stop giving wrong impression to tourists that the eastern seaboard of Sabah is safe.
We stop promising them safety and security, when we have clearly failed miserably to secure the area decades after it become part of our sovereign territory.
If we are still hard up for the tourist dollar, we should at least be frank with them. Tell them that they are visiting these islands and beaches at their own risk.
Yes, God has given us many heavenly places, but due to our ineptitude, incompetence and lack of leadership at all levels – down to the local police and military commanders – these places have been turned into hell by gunmen and kidnappers.
It appears that the louder our leaders speak, the more money they spend on defence and security, and the more agencies they set up, the less secure and safe the country becomes.
Maybe we have never actually learnt how to govern Sarawak and Sabah. They are too dissimilar to the Peninsula. Recognising these dissimilarities and their unique position as British colonies, they were granted considerable autonomy when they joined the Federation of Malaya to become Malaysia in 1963.
Is Sang Kelembai Responsible?
What has been happening in the country in the last few years – topped by the disappearance of MH370 almost a month ago - reminds me of the Sang Kelembai.
This mysterious supernatural being in the Malay folklore is so evil and sinister that anybody who runs into him and anything he touches turns into rock.
Are we, figuratively speaking, in the grips of Sang Kelembai? Pray to God that we are not.
I do not want to go into the Malay traditional believe of “tuah” (good luck) and “sial” (bad luck).
But during my days in the village, a man or woman suspected of suffering from the latter had to go through ritual cleansing called “mandi bunga” (flower bath).
Today, pious Muslims would tell you that such a belief and practice is “khurafat” and therefore, forbidden. So are the beliefs in ghosts, spirits, orang bunian (elves), mantras, palm reading, tangkal, keramat and magic stones.
Have a good weekend.
- A KADIR JASIN
- I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).