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I happened to watch the nighttime Diari for Akademi Fantasia 3 today…. (a girl whom I grew up with, is on the show… and is therefore the only reason why I watch the show.)….. and something really annoyed me. M Nasir was talking to Marsha and he was telling her, “You’ve got to learn to speak Bahasa Malaysia, to connect better with the fans.”

Friggin’ ignorant, man. What, only Semenanjung Malay is considered “Bahasa Malaysia”? The Sabahans and Sarawakians speak Malay, oh yes, but that isn’t good enough to be considered Bahasa Malaysia, is it? Sound a bit too Indonesian, maybe? But I’ve asked quite a few Indonesians whether they think Sabahan Malay sounds even slightly Indonesian, and they always, always say No, it doesn’t sound Indonesian at all. And ask Sabahans if they personally think they sound Indonesian, and you probably won’t get any Yes answers.

Same thing happened in National Service, last year. Trainees from Semenanjung would say, “Oh, is that how things are like here? In Malaysia, we do it this way…” Often I’d feel like yelling, “If you’re in Sabah, then you’re still in Malaysia, duh!” but I could never bring myself to do it. And they would invariably say that before they came, they expected the place to be wilderness, people living in huts or trees and only eating sayur kangkung, rice cooked over a bonfire, or still-bloody barbecued meat from an animal you had to catch with your own hands.

My apologies to Semenanjung people I might offend. I’m sure there are many, many Semenanjung people more intelligent than those I’ve encountered. But for some reason, I’ve had the misfortune to only encounter those who consider Sabahans (and Sarawakians) to not be really Malaysian, or to consider them as being inferior Malaysians. Is that really what they think? Please, please prove me wrong.

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