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Kampung Pictures Daily SABM Roadshow No 5 - Kuching
SABM Roadshow No 5 - Kuching PDF Print E-mail
Written by straits-mongrel   
Tuesday, 23 March 2010 23:01

swak2Ah, Kuching. If only more Malaysian cities could learn from this city. Kuching grew from the banks of a river, and today the city still acknowledges its roots beautifully. A wide riverwalk, lined with mature shady trees, hugs the edge of a lazy Sarawak River. Boats still ply the waterway ferrying their loads.

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Across the street which runs parallel to the river, lies the commercial heart of the city. The Main Bazaar - shops with wider than normal five-foot-ways - has been around since the 19th century. It is an exotic prospect to the visitor. One could dream of getting old gracefully in a place like this.

 

But alas, wakey-wakey. The dreaming and sightseeing had to wait.


From Kota Kinabalu, the SABM team of eight flew into Kuching within a hair's breath of showtime. Lack of sleep (one of us didn't shower - not telling who) notwithstanding, we went straight to work. There was coordination with the Harbour View Hotel technical crew that had to be done, the registration desk needed to be set up, merchandise displayed.

 

Once again, adrenaline saved the day.

 

Promptly at 1pm, registration began. Would we get a decent response, we wondered; would the locals even care to listen to a Semenanjung-founded initiative that claims to aspire to One People, One Nation?

 

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Well, we had a full house again. Again, we witnessed the beauty of the many hues of Malaysians - the young and the old, the giddying ethnic representations. If only we could bottle this spirit and bring it back to the peninsula as antidote to silly monoethnic pronouncements by certain quarters. Indeed, racism is so yesterday.

 

As with the previous night in Kota Kinabalu, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan opened the forum with his presentation on Sabah's 20-point and Sarawak's 18-point Agreements. Now, the 18-point Memorandum is one elusive piece of document. SABM even called on the National Archives and came back empty-handed. How very curious.

 

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Lawyer-politician Baru Bian also searched and came up with nothing. "It's like it doesn't exist," he said. Baru touched on many topics related to Federal-State issues, and the shortchange that resulted in the merger to form Malaysia. Development of the people and Native Customary Rights were hot topics on the table. It was disheartening to note that even the Brooke colonial administration observed these rights, but today they are contested by the government.

 

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Another Sarawak lawyer-politician, Voon Lee Shan, shared with the audience the importance of drawing everybody to contribute to nation-building. But before that can happen the rakyat have to feel that they all belong, not divided by race-based policies. "We are all equal under God," he said.

 

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Guest speakers with Haris: (L-R) Baru, Dr Kitingan, Voon, and Cobbold.

Sarawak blogger Cobbold John presented a stirring documentary on the abuse of native land by timber concessionaires. Raw and captured in native dialogue (Iban and Malay), the documentary was a damning case-study of allegedly how little government is helping, if not exacerbating the situation. SABM will upload the material on Youtube the moment we receive a subtitled copy.


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After Haris presented Are We a Nation in Distress?, SABM's Flora came forward to share her story on her involvement with the initiative. The Sabahan recounted her disappointment with politicians and their broken promises, and her resolve to help educate the rakyat to be collective pilots in steering this country. Man-Mountain Haris was seen shedding a tear while listening.

 

The QnA session was thoughtful and energetic. One got the sense that this Kuching crowd wasn't keen on dwelling on parochial issues; rather, they genuinely sought a better roadmap for Sarawak and this nation.

 

All too soon, the show had to close. We were left tingling with a lot of warmth from the Kuching audience. The many faces still register in our memories. People, we'll get connected in cyberspace, ok? We'll get a roadmap going, and we will reach There.

 

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Special mention goes to Anak Bangsa Malaysia John Lee, who helped put together the Kuching show and connected us with many wonderful people. The shot above is for you, John. Now get over to the carwash :)

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 01:12
 

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