Do away with ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ and ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’. Everyone should think of himself as Malaysian.

“We may live in Sabah or Sarawak or in the peninsula, but we are Malaysians,” Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying.

Call that an appeal or a warning. Call it whatever, but one thing for sure is there is something not quite right with this federation.

This Malaysian ship is heading into rough seas because there is a kind of mutiny on board. Soon it will disintegrate. If the elements don’t break it, the mutineers will.

And that’s something any captain would not want to see happening. Not while he is still the captain, anyway.

Dr Mahathir is the last person who would want to see his Malaysian ship disintegrating and sinking, thus his call to Malaysians to think as Malaysians. He knows too well, too many Malaysians no longer think as Malaysians.

Who or what do we blame for the lack of pride in being Malaysians?

Today if you ask Sarawakians if they are proud of being Malaysians, you would be lucky if you could find one out of ten who says he is; in fact, you might not even get one out of a hundred.

Is it that bad, you might ask? Why?

Do we blame Zakir Naik? Do we blame the Perlis mufti? Do we blame khat? Or in the case of Sarawak, do we blame Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution?

Look again. Look at the Malaysian government, the leaders and some of their policies, aren’t they where it all began?

So many reasons why, and pertinent among them being that the central government has not treated Sarawak fairly by cancelling approved projects, or downsizing them and delaying their implementation; the unresolved issue of dilapidated schools; Malayan-based parties coming into the state trying to grab power from Sarawak parties and bringing with them a political culture of snobbishness and superiority complex; and introducing Bills and proposing amendments that are clearly aimed at eroding Sarawak’s rights.

In 2016, Zuraida Kamaruddin had just been banned from entering Sarawak again.

The national women’s chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), who had been turned back at immigration control and asked to leave the state in her visits in 2013 and 2014, this time said, “Once in power, PKR will amend Sarawak immigration ordinance as it is ridiculous to ban people from entering Sarawak.”

And, not long after the failed Bill to amend Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir told Parliament he, too, wanted Sarawak immigration rights done away with.

Zuraida today is a member of Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet while Mukhriz is the PM’s son. With leaders such as them making statements questioning the rights of Sarawak, Sarawakians have every reason to not think too highly of being Malaysians.

More recently, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng derided Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government, saying Sarawak would go bankrupt in three years’ time if GPS was allowed to continue to rule the state.

Lim has no cause to believe in his own statement, but his narrow and selfish political interests had the better of him then. He is another Malaysian leader who contributes to the disintegration of this federation.

But why are these leaders taking potshots at Sarawak with impunity? Did they not realise they are actually undermining the very foundation on which this federation was built?

If we must look back, on too many occasions Dr Mahathir had displayed that side of him which does not separate him from some members of his government who are in the habit of belittling Sarawak and Sarawakians.

Sarawakians can never forget the time Dr Mahathir said tongue-in-cheek on TV he found Sarawak rich enough and that if possible it should give three percent of the 20 percent oil and gas royalty it was asking from the federal government, to Kedah, which according to him, was the poorest state in Malaysia.

Such a statement from him is one reason why other Malayans such as Zuraida, Mukhriz and Lim think it’s alright to speak ill of Sarawak and ape their big boss.

Sarawakians today are not Sarawakians of September 19, 1963. They are not even Sarawakians of those years when the central government could push anything down their throats like it did with the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012.

The Sarawakians of today are demanding either a review or repeal of these laws which have infringed upon the bounden rights of the state.

Yes, Sarawakians can once again be proud of being Malaysians, but the Malayans must stop thinking that they must dominate Malaysia.

Just remember, Sarawak is an equal partner in the formation of this federation, and that position must be reflected not only in the government system of the day but the words and actions of the federal leaders.

Most of all, Dr Mahathir must show the way because he is the Prime Minister of Malaysia, not Malaya.