March 6, 2013
Art Harun’s Take on Lahad Datu Incursion
The incursion by the Sulu terrorists into Sabah is a culmination of socio-political complexities that were ignored due to post-World War II socio-political order and convenience.
First: We have an ancient Sultanate living in the 18th century, forgetting the fact that their forefathers have sold their sovereignty for self interest, without nary a thought for the people whom they claim to rule, in exchange for what appeared to be big money then, but reduced to pittance in the 21st century.
We have a so-called Sultan who apparently rules his subjects from the comfort and safety of Manila, who speaks as if he is the most benevolent of rulers and who sent his subjects to a hopeless war from within the comfort of Metro Manila.
Second: We have a government of a state ― which is not really a state ― that fails to control and impose law and order on wide areas of the so-called state, giving rise to vast areas where people do not really recognise the state and its government.
The leader of the Opposition pact is now under house arrest after being convicted for electoral fraud. The state’s ancient and baseless claim for Sabah is an election issue, which that Opposition pact wishes to pursue and doubtlessly exploited in the name of nationalism and patriotism, however misguided and misplaced they may be.
Fourth: On the home front, we have had leaders from both sides of the fence who had courted this so-called Sultan and claimant to the Sultanate (at least there are five of them) before, all in the name of Malay-ness and Islam.
Some of our citizens are even conferred Datuships by these feudal Sultans without a kingdom. This lends a semblance of recognition by our very own leaders of the Sultan and the Sultanate.
Fifth: Malaysia cannot deny, no matter how loud Dr Mahathir shouts, that it has been a sympathiser of the Bangsamoro’s so-called fight for liberation. Now that very Bangsamoro is coming back to haunt Malaysia for all its generosity in the past.
In fact, we were so pally-pally with the Moros that, in the 80s (or was it early 90s?), when Nur Misuari’s rebellion was crushed in the Philippines, our friend casually and nonchalantly landed in Sabah airport thinking we would welcome him as a guest. We, however, handcuffed him and sent him back to the Philippines to face his prosecutors.
Sixth: Malaysia has always allowed the porous borders of the Sulu, Tawi-tawi and the surrounding islands with Sabah to be breached without a semblance of enforcement of our immigration laws. People go in and out of that area with impunity from immigration laws on, not a daily basis, but hourly basis.
That area is like a free trade zone where people would conduct their daily business even in rupiah and pesos. This episode shows that maintenance of law and order is absolutely critical for internal security, no matter how difficult or petty it is.
Seventh: Project IC during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time. Do I need to say more about this? Perhaps it is time for all of us ― the people of Malaysia, the government and the opposition alike ― to take law and order seriously. Be like Singapore when it comes to enforcement of the laws. They even enforce the chewing gum law with the passion of an Israeli soldier in Gaza.
It is also time that our intelligence unit be beefed up and be alert to any strife or crisis in and surrounding us, no matter how minute it may be. The next time-bomb that we have to monitor is the Pattani issue, and the Spratly Islands that are being claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and China.
International relations, internal security and matters pertaining to the nation’s security is like the stock market. A bomb explodes in Timbuktu and Apple’s shares might come tumbling down. It is the same with our security. The Philippines are having an election and Sabah is invaded by armed terrorists. We just have to be aware of things, analyse each and every situation and event and see how they could impact on us.
People who do not analyse events often lose out in the stock market. We have to engage in battles on our own land because we were not sensitive enough to events surrounding us. It is not too late for us to improve. A nation’s achievement is not only measured from her success but also from how she rises from a set-back and learns from it to take her to greater height.
My thoughts and prayers are with all our brave men and women on the battle front. May God Bless them, protect them and grant them strength and determination. Victory is always with the righteous.