Thing we learnt from the Sabah crisis

by Abdul Samad Sulaiman

Some of the things we Malaysians have learned from the security crisis in Sabah.

We are a polarised people.

Even when foreigners challenge our sovereignty and make a mockery of our border defence, we cannot extricate ourselves from seeing things through the prism of race.

Veteran journalist A. Kadir Jasin perhaps thought that he was being thought-provoking when he mused about the fact that when our security forces are called into harm’s way, it is Malays and Bumiputeras who die ― a reality because of composition of army and police.

Never mind that non-Malays have also bled for the country and only are averse from joining the security forces because of racial discrimination, over Islamisation and other reasons that have little to do with patriotism.

Also bringing race into the argument was Dr Mahathir Mohamed.

He said that the government employed the soft touch initially because the Sulu fighters were Muslim brethren.

This is the type of muddled thinking that enabled the Sulu invaders to stay much longer than necessary and compromised police operations.

Would the race of robbers, snatch thieves or rapist be a factor? Are you going to have a soft-soft approach when a robber holds your family at gunpoint because he shares the same religion?

Such daft thinking. And the man used to run the country.

What do Hishammuddin Hussein and Zahidi Hamidi have in common?

Plenty. They both are top Umno officials, have an eye on one day becoming prime minister, love the sound bites and DO NOT INSPIRE ANY CONFIDENCE.

When both these guys open their mouths, you either get clichés and some bumbling attempt at trying to assure Malaysians on “things being under control”.

They win top marks for bomber jackets and dress sense but is this the best talent we have? What paucity of talent in the Malaysian Cabinet and Umno!

Here is something to ponder: They could be future prime ministers!

Some things in life come back and bite us in the backside

Some of the weapons used by the fighters can be traced back to the MNLF, who received the arms courtesy of Gaddafi through Malaysia.

Nur Misuari, the leader of the MNLF, says that some of his men are also fighting alongside the Sulu gang. And guess what, in the old days, the MNLF fighters who had long and bloody campaign against the Philippine army, were trained by Malaysians.

Add to that the fact that many of the Sultan of Sulu’s fighters have ties to Malaysia and this becomes a perfect example of biting the hand that feeds you.

Oh and for good measure, it must also be mentioned that Dr Mahathir says Malaysia never trained MNLF. He also denied existence of Project IC.

Submarines are useless against small boats

Some time ago, the Royal Malaysian Navy admiral said that the Scorpene submarines are needed to prevent a repeat of the 1511 takeover of Malacca by the Portuguese. I guess the genius did not factor in invaders in small boats.

And despite the spin by Nazri Aziz (the man has ended his silence after the RM40 million Musa Aman/Michael Chai episode) that these Sulu guys are bandits and outlaws, it does not hide the fact that there was a complete intelligence failure and that they had planned to enter the country illegally and make a claim to Sabah.

This made them invaders and a threat to national security and sovereignty ― and not part of the Mamak Gang.

I can excuse the failure of the Special Branch and Military Intelligence because their personnel are overworked keeping an eye on Opposition politicians.

But one plea to Nazri and gang: The average Malaysian is smarter and more informed than you or your Cabinet colleagues.

So don’t talk about outlaws and criminals. Just admit that you guys were clueless about who you were dealing with and what you were going up against.


This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider and the views expressed are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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