Wahai Orang Sabah Dan Sarawak, Welcome to Malaysia!
Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia?
Oh wow, you know your Malaysian history. No bad, not bad, that’s impressive!
So as you all know, Malaysia gained its independence on 31 August 1957 and later on formed the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. This federation is inclusive of Sabah and Sarawak, as part of the 14 States.
Sabah and Sarawak are well known for their famous world heritage sites, nature, food and cultural diversity. I guarantee their cultural diversity and racial tolerance beat the West Malaysians’ any time of the day.
Why do some of us still choose to be ignorant towards our fellow brothers and sisters from the East? Sometimes hurtful statements and questions are directed to them as if they are some foreigners. Having visited both states multiple times and gained good friends and “family”, I can proudly say it’s like my second home.
Back to being ignorant. Here are some of the ways West Malaysians stereotype the East Malaysians…
“What are you?”
“You Filipino or Indonesian? Chinese ah? Oh, I know! Eurasian kan?”
Having multiple cultures, Sabah and Sarawak have their own ethnicities such as the Kadazan-Dusuns, Bajaus, Muruts, Ibans, Bidayuhs, Malays, Chinese and many others.
Let’s not forget our neighbouring countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, which are situated just next to these two states. So by having these wonderful neighbours around, inter-marriages happen and this is quite common. This rojak effect eventually produces unique children, which are often very fair with smooth skin texture. Sometimes, the Western people also assume that just because the Sabahans and Sarawakians are native/tribal people, they would turn out to be dark and ugly.
But why? Only God knows why this perception exists. But being dark is beautiful too! #wakandaforever!
“Do you have IC? Fuh… Got! Still live on trees?”
Many people think that just because Sabah and Sarawak are rich with nature and their tribes, our fellow brothers and sisters still live in the pokok or long house! And that they are disconnected from the modern world and government related activities.
Nowadays, most of them work in the city with good jobs, good skills with good rewards and benefits. Most long houses these days have been converted to home-stays or as family getaway places during celebrations. And yes, they live in modern brick houses too.
“You can speak Bahasa? Wait, is that Indonesian?”
Obviously, when we all are Malaysians, we all speak Bahasa Melayu kan? It is compulsory to know! For those who say Air (water) as air (udara) or ikan as (I-can) you may please kill yourself with your parcelled accent from London.
Our Eastern siblings speak Bahasa too, but with an accent of their own. This is due to, once again, the various cultures and maybe with some influences from our Indonesian neighbours. No, it’s not Bahasa Indonesian but Bahasa Melayu, because we have the lah and bah. However, the usage of “bah” is not the same as the “lah”.
So, people of the West! Please leave the Bahs to the Sabahans and Sarawakians, they do it better. Kita jangan nak over sangat iya… Let us just stick with the “lah”.
“So do you keep chickens and farm?”
Another ignorant statement from the West. Yes, they do keep chickens, cows, pig, ducks (together with many other animals) and farm but on a much larger scale now. It’s called industrialisation! They have their own “New Zealand” dairy farm, yo! The people of Sabah and Sarawak have developed themselves over the years, making our country proud!
Speaking of development, they have their own universities, factories, offices and government agencies. They are able to send their kids to study abroad with or without PTPTN support. Yes, there are even people who can afford to go on holidays overseas, and buy iPhones.
That being said, there are people from the West who could not afford such luxuries so why be judgemental to the East?
“Do we need to produce passport upon arrival in Sabah or Sarawak?”
The answer is NO.
The West Malaysians need not produce their passports because Sabah and Sarawak is in Malaysia remember?
HOWEVER, you will be granted a special visa upon arrival at their airport. This document is issued as an alternative to the Malaysian Passport and Restricted Travel Document in accordance with Part VII, Special Provisions For East Malaysia, Immigration Act 1959/63. In short, this is to protect the people of Sabah and Sarawak from being exploited further by the West. Be judgemental and cruel to them la some more! Padan muka!
“Uncle Slocumm’s Secret Recipe”
“Gardenia… so good that you can even eat it on its own”.
We all know this famous tag line. Why do we always find a shortage of Gardenia bread and buns in KLIA or KLIA2?
This is kind of a compulsory order/request from our Eastern siblings to “tapao” loads and loads of Gardenia bread back to their homeland. There are no Gardenia factories there. This is because the East Malaysians choose to protect their local bakery shops, in order to boost their local economy. So you need understand that if you’re having a hard time buying your bread or buns at the airport, think of our brothers and sisters from the East side. We always have alternatives like Massimo and High 5.
“I want hike to Mount Kinabalu in Sarawak!”
Guys, before you visit these 2 states, at least know your Geography and History first. Minimal knowledge of those two will save you from tonnes of embarrassment. I had a friend once who planned to hike Mount Kinabalu, thinking it is situated in Sarawak. It’s in Sabah, hello!
However, Sarawak is well known for their caves and their UNESCO reserved geology park in Mulu. You would be awed by its beauty.
“Welcome to Malaysia!!”
This is the most famous remark given by our Western people almost every time. “Have you been to Malaysia?” or “Wow, you work in KL?! So how’s work in Malaysia been treating you so far?” Seriously, guys, this is a true story. Most of the time our Sabahan and Sarawakian siblings get offended by this remark. So, before you make such comments, read up on your Malaysian history!
“Which is which now? Bah! So confusing!”
Kadazans are from Sarawak while the Dayaks are from Sabah. Correct? If you say it is… please save your head from being chopped off. Don’t get confused because this the most common thing to know. #generalknowledge. You have been learning these facts from Standard 1 in your moral subject up to geography/history subjects during your secondary schooling! How the fuck you ended up having a degree la wei?
So buck up and get to know all the tribes.
What I’m trying to say is … it kind of hurts when our Eastern siblings get treated as foreigners in our own country. Sabah and Sarawak are not only famous for their oil and timber but everything about them is awesome!
How about just visiting Sabah and Sarawak and experience it for yourself?
Plus point: The girls are pretty and the boys are handsome too *wink wink*.
P/S: I would like to thank my Sabahan and Sarawakian friends (especially from Annah Rais Longhouse) who have shared their funny experiences (or is it frustrations?), and allowing me to voice out on their behalf.
Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban dan Aramaiti!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Surendh David is a bearded man, and is too awesome to be written about in just a short paragraph. Bug him on Instagram.