OUR national leaders better do something very drastic to curb the racial and religious intolerance being propagated by certain groups in the peninsula.
The latest racially-charged Low Yat Plaza incident in Kuala Lumpur that had turned nasty and violent shows that things are getting so volatile nowadays that they can explode into open confrontation.
And there are certain groups there bent on provocating these violence.
I worked in the peninsula for six years – three years stationed in the Klang Valley and three years in Kuala Terengganu.
Demonstrations and chaotic protests – I am used to all that.
But now they have degenerated into group attacks and violent fights.
Now, that is certainly getting too nasty for comfort.
I have observed after so many years that the culture among certain sections of the people in the peninsula is very different from Sarawakians.
The way they think, behave and react to things can defer very much from the people in Sarawak.
I am not saying that the peninsula is not a good place to live in. For sure, not all peninsula Malaysians are bad people.
In fact, I know of many very nice people during my time there.
But, there is no denying there are groups of nasty and radical people there also. I had my own share of encounters with these groups.
There are many good things Sarawakians can exchange with our fellow citizens in the peninsula. There are also many negative things that we in Sarawak should avoid.
The peninsula folk are very hardworking, progressive-minded, never content with staying at the same level and all the time striving to improve.
That is why life is so competitive in the peninsula, especially in the Klang Valley. They always demand the best quality in terms of services and they will do their best to make sure they attain what they want.
Even in Terengganu, I noticed that there is a marked difference in the ideals of the fishermen there compared with the fishermen in Miri.
The fishermen there are progressive-minded, not content with being small-scale fishermen. They start small, but extend their business fast and then progress even further.
That is why in places like Marang, 20km south of Kuala Terengganu, the fishermen have huge houses, drive four-wheel vehicles and even turn their boat-making skills into a craftsmanship, selling boats to even foreigners.
The negative aspect of many peninsula folk is that they have lost their gentle nature.
They can be very harsh at times in their criticisms, too aggressive in their pursuit of material things and money, too easily influenced and provoked into behaving radically and they can be too emotional at times.
I remember an incident when my motorbike broke down while I was on assignment in Shah Alam, 30km from Petaling Jaya.
I parked my bike in front of the city council, locked it securely and flagged down a taxi to rush back to office to file my stories.
When I got in the taxi, the driver demanded RM60 for the trip, without using the meter. I insisted that he used the meter as I knew the trip would only cost about RM35.
Before I knew it, he drove me to the highway and ordered out! It took me two hours to flag down a taxi that was willing to use the meter.
Another incident happened at a midnight Easter vigil mass in Kuala Terengganu which nearly ended in violent confrontation when a group of rowdy people threw stones into the school hall where we were praying and singing hymns.
We in Sarawak are very blessed indeed as these sorts of things do not happen here.
People of all races and religions share the same peace and unity, with churches, mosques and temples built near and even next to each other.
Christians and Muslims live under the same roof, at times, as can be seen here in Miri.
Sarawak is undoubtedly the most socially-stable state in Malaysia.
I believe that all Sarawakians, particularly the young ones, must go and live in the peninsula for a few years at least. This will widen their perspective about our country, learn how our fellow citizens there think and behave.
The experience will make us wiser. We can learn to adopt the good things we seeand, very importantly, learn not to let the negative values from the peninsula spread to our state.
Peninsula Malaysians have very differing cultures, depending on the region they grew up in and live in.
We in Sarawakians are more “stable” in the behaviorial aspect and in the mindset - if I can use the word “stable”.
Our peninsula Malaysian brothers and sisters are more “volatile” – meaning to say their mindset and behaviour are dictated very much by their emotions and the current issues at play in the place where they are living.
Go and live in the peninsula for a few years if you have a chance and you will come back to Sarawak wiser and more mature and appreciative of the life that we have here.