There’s the Rub

Get real


Malaysia is treating us like dirt, one says, and we are taking it like wimps. The Malaysians are acting like they are our master, says another, and government is bowing to it. Malaysia is massacring Filipinos with impunity, says still another, and government will not rage and rail over it. Malaysia has grabbed a part of Philippine territory, says still another, and government has ceded it altogether. We should not call it “Team PNoy,” says still another, we should call it “Team Malaysia.”

Who’s to blame for the deaths of the people who have tried to seize Sabah by force? Government. Who’s to blame for the deaths of the many more Filipinos who are being driven off Sabah dead or alive? Government. Who’s to blame for the insult and injury the country is suffering in the hands of Malaysia? Government.

Can anything be more idiotic?

Of course government should protest the ferocity and viciousness with which the Filipinos in Sabah are being quite literally pushed to the sea, one that makes little distinction between legal and illegal, one that makes little distinction between combatant and noncombatant, one that makes little distinction between life and death. Of course we ourselves must vociferate and expostulate against the human rights violations and outright atrocities being wreaked on the Filipinos in Sabah, that is about life and that is about Filipinos, two of the most precious things for us.

But to do all this without condemning the irresponsibility and criminal recklessness of those who provoked this crisis, who stoked this conflagration, who conjured this horror into being, that is stupid. To be silent, to be dumb, about the original sin, the original cause, the original act that precipitated all this, that is idiotic. That is to be anti-Filipino. That is to make us the laughingstock of the world.

Before the Kirams’ hilariously named “royal army”—can anything be more atavistic?—landed in Tanduao to reclaim a piece of land they lost long ago and liberate a people who are already free, the Filipinos in Sabah lived relatively peacefully. Although many of them were illegals, they had managed to work or earn from various livelihoods without being unduly harassed by the cops. Though many of them were illegals, they had managed to get along with their Sabah neighbors, not all of whom were fellow Tausug, dreaming one day of at least becoming legals and at most of becoming Malaysians.

Then suddenly the Kirams came uninvited, unwelcomed and unwanted, and overnight everything changed. The security forces in Sabah moved to expel them, and as happens in incursions like this, they expelled more than them, they oppressed more than them, they killed more than them. And Filipinos, both legal and illegal, both those who had migrated there recently or had lived there most of their lives, ended up fleeing back to a country they barely acknowledged (which was why they left in the first place) and barely recognized, having left too young to even know about it.

And you blame government for this?

The head of the pin upon which all this rests, the iota of justification upon which all this lies, is that the Sultanate of Sulu owns Sabah, the Kirams own Sabah. You will find in all the articles and tracts that defend this inanity mention of how the British North Borneo Company and ultimately the British government itself conspired to steal Sabah from them. You will not find in them a single, solitary, teeny-weeny mention of the Sabah people themselves. Specifically, you will not find in them mention of the fact that the Sabah people struggled to be free, gained self-rule in 1963, and voted to become part of Malaysia. You will not find in them mention of the fact that the Sabah people are so fiercely proud and independent they insist to this day that they did not join the Malaysian Federation, they helped  create  the Malaysian Federation along with other states.

How in the face of this can Sabah belong to the Kirams? How in the face of this can the Sabah people be subjects of the Sultan of Sulu?

What is that but saying the Sabah people do not matter? What is that but saying the Sabah people do not exist? Hell, what is that but saying the wishes of the Sabah people are irrelevant, the history of the Sabah people for the last hundred years is irrelevant, the right of the Sabah people to decide their own fate and destiny is irrelevant? Basta  lang, they are royal subjects of the Sultan of Sulu?

When in fact the Sabah people are not just the most relevant thing in this equation, they are the most pivotal element in this equation, the most central variable in this equation, the most decisive factor in this equation. When in fact what the Sabah people want is the be-all and end-all of this equation. Certainly what they do  not  want is the Kirams, what they do  not  want is to become subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu, what they do  not  want is anyone screwing their freedom.

You want to blame anyone, blame the Kirams. Frankly, I don’t know why they haven’t been arrested yet for sparking all this violence, for precipitating all this atrocity, for causing all these deaths. And not quite incidentally for embarrassing us in the eyes of the world, for shaming us in the eyes of the world—with no small help from the batty voices that say the Kirams have a right to subjugate the Sabahans, government is wrong not to support their idiotic quest. At the very time when we are climbing out of a decade of rut and rot and restoring luster and pride to being Filipino. What the Kirams have done is not pro-Filipino, it is anti-Filipino. Arresting them is not anti-Filipino, it is pro-Filipino. Punishing them is not being pro-Malaysia, it is pro-Filipino. Hell, it is pro-sanity.

Get real, people.

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Tags: conflict , Malaysia , Philippines , Sabah

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