ASEAN Conflict & disaster

[2613] Welcoming peace in Mindanao

Some peace is not worth it. A state that suppresses its citizens and others does not deserve peace for such peace only allows the state to continue to use its power to bully. Peace is sustainable only if rights are respected. No peace can stand with disrespect.

For other peace, it is worth the shot and it should be welcomed. One of such peace is the one almost everybody is shooting for in Mindanao. It is worth the shot because I do not think the government of Philippines is one comparable to that of Saddam Hussien of Iraq or al-Assad of Syria. Furthermore, the conflict has been going on for a long time much to the disadvantage of everybody in the Philippines, and possibly to Malaysia as well although arguably, Malaysia did benefit from the conflict given the context of the formation of Malaysia and the Filipino claim to Sabah in the early age of modern nation-states in Southeast Asia. The conflict in Mindanao essentially distracted the government of the Philippines from pursuing its claim more vigorously. Also, Malaysia, both the state and private citizens, had been naughty with respect to Mindanao in the past, just as they had with Aceh.

But that does not mean that there is no cost to Malaysia. Security in eastern Sabah had attracted attention in the past. The US government has issued travel warnings from time to time, which I think can be an unfair representation of Malaysia as a whole which is very safely relative to most neighboring countries. There have been several high-profile kidnapping cases in the past and this has caused the military to beef up its presence in that area. Whereas Malaysia could spend its resources on building up public infrastructure in Sabah, which is severely lacking compared to Peninsular Malaysia, the same resources went to security purposes. The security spending is necessary but it would have been great if it was not.

Another cost, which is bigger, has been illegal immigration into Sabah. I personally prefer assimilation for these immigrants because they have been here for such a long time. The cost of assimilation should be reasonably cheap compared to mass expulsion. I also think expulsion is an inhumane policy. I think we have a responsibility to welcome these immigrants as long as they are willing to work and become good residents. It is cruel to force them back in harm’s way.

But the politics in Sabah is murky and assimilation that a libertarian like me prefers is not a popular proposal among Sabahans. Some Sabahans hold almost racist (outright racist even?) view when it comes to the issue. So peace is one way which the problem of illegal immigration can be solved, even partially.

Peace is Mindanao may encourage some refugees to return home. Peace also may finally allow for economic development on the island and that may encourage economic migrants in Sabah to return home as well. Peace itself will encourage greater trade between Mindanao and the surrounding regions and that has to be good for Sabah and Malaysia.

But it is still to be seen if there will be peace in Mindanao despite the fanfare. A wholesome peace requires that the rebels are represented wholly and already there are fractions opposing the proposed deal. One hopes the rebelling fractions are only a minority, unpopular and unarmed. Unfortunately, it is quite clear that they are armed. Besides, how many broken peace deals were made in the past?

I also wonder though how will the effort at peace there will affect the Filipino claim to Sabah.

ASEAN Conflict & disaster

[1674] Of Malaysia has a deal with the MILF

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has allegedly struck a deal with Malaysia over Sabah, and that’s why the rebel group is silent on the claim issue, a high-ranking Palace official said.

This is supposedly the reason why the MILF wants Malaysia to remain as the head of the international monitoring team overseeing the ceasefire agreement with the government, the official who requested anonymity said.

The source added that Malaysia has been pressuring the Philippine government into resuming the peace talks despite the ”unconstitutional” demands of the MILF for its future homeland in Mindanao, because of the alleged agreement on Sabah. [MILF, Malaysia have deal on Sabah—official. The Manila Times. June 2 2008]

The situation in the Philippines is rather worrying.

History & heritage

[1419] Of what if the Phillipines were Malaysia?

I was surprised to find out that the people of the Philippines once contemplated to name their state as Malaysia.

Filipino politicians who dreamt of creating a Pan-Malay nation also considered adopting the name Malaysia, which had referred to the overall Malay archipelago before becoming the name of the newly independent Malaysian nation in 1963.5 The former Filipino Vice-President of the Pan-Malayan Union presented a bill in the  Senate in 1962 to change the name of the Philippines to Malaysia (Alonto 2003 p.190). While the bill was debated in the Congress, the name was adopted by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who led the Malaysian nationalist movement, and the term narrowed to refer to the country-in-waiting, consisting of the Malay Peninsula and territories of the former British colonies in Borneo. [Reviving Malay Connections in Southeast Asia. Minako Sakai]

Suddenly, the etymology of the name Malaysia sounds like a worthy subject to research into.