Donald J. Trump and The Deep State


GlobalResearch

On February 3, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported President Trump’s plans to pave the way for a broad rollback of the recent financial reforms of Wall Street.[1] Although no surprise, the news was in ironic contrast to the rhetoric of his campaign, when he spent months denouncing both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton for their links to Goldman Sachs, even when his campaign’s Financial Chairman was a former Goldman Sachs banker, Steve Mnuchin (now Trump’s Treasury Secretary).

Trump was hardly the first candidate to run against the banking establishment while surreptitiously taking money from big bankers. So did Hitler in 1933; so did Obama in 2008. (In Obama’s final campaign speech of 2008, he attacked “the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street.”[2] But it was revealed later that Wall Street bankers and financial insiders, chiefly from Goldman Sachs, had raised $42.2 million for Obama’s 2008 campaign, more than for any previous candidate in history.)[3]

However, Trump’s connections to big money, both new (often self-made) and old (mostly institutional) were not only more blatant than usual; some were also possibly more sinister. Trump’s campaign was probably the first ever to be (as we shall see) scrutinized by the FBI for “financial connections with Russian financial figures,” and even with a Russian bank whose Washington influence was attacked years ago, after it was allegedly investigated in Russia for possible mafia connections.[4]

Trump’s appointment of the third former Goldman executive to lead Treasury in the last four administrations, after Robert Rubin (under Clinton) and Hank Paulson (under Bush), has reinforced recent speculation about Trump’s relationship to what is increasingly referred to as the deep state. That is the topic of this essay.

But we must first see what is really meant by ‘the deep state”.

What Is Meant by the Deep State?

Since 2007, when I first referred to a “deep state” in America, the term has become a meme, and even the topic of a cautious essay in The New York Times.[5] Recently it has been enhanced by a new meme, “the ’deep state’ versus Trump,” a theme that promoted Donald Trump as a genuine outsider, and entered the electoral campaign as early as August 2016.[6]

Trump reinforced this notion when he expressed opposition to America’s international defense alliances and trade deals that both traditional parties had long supported, as well as by his promise to “drain the Washington swamp.” It was encouraged again post-election by Trump’s longtime political advisor Roger Stone, formerly of the Washington lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, once a major feature of that swamp.[7]

But those who saw the election as a contest between outsider Trump and a “deep state” tended to give two different meanings to this new term. On the one hand were those who saw the deep state as “a conglomerate of insiders” incorporating all those, outside and inside the traditional state, who “run the country no matter who is in the White House…and without the consent of voters.”[8] On the other were those who, like Chris Hedges, limited the “deep state” to those perverting constitutional American politics from the margin of the Washington Beltway — “the security and surveillance apparatus, the war machine.”[9]

But both of these simplistic definitions, suitable for campaign rhetoric, omit the commanding role played by big money — what used to be referred to as Wall Street, but now includes an increasingly powerful number of maverick non-financial billionaires like the Koch brothers. All serious studies of the deep state, including Mike Lofgren’s The Deep State and Philip Giraldi’s Deep State America as well as this book, acknowledge the importance of big money.[10]

It is important to recognize moreover, that the current division between “red” and “blue” America is overshadowed by a corresponding division at the level of big money, one that contributed greatly to the ugliness of the 2016 campaign. In The American Deep State (p. 30), I mention, albeit very briefly, the opposition of right-wing oilmen and the John Birch Society “to the relative internationalism of Wall Street.”[11] That opposition has become more powerful, and better financed, than ever before.

It has also evolved. As I noted in The American Deep State, (p. 14), the deep state “is not a structure but a system, as difficult to define, but also as real and powerful, as a weather system.” A vigorous deep state, like America, encompasses dynamic processes continuously generating new forces within it like the Internet — just as a weather system is not fixed but changes from day to day.

The Current Divisions in America and Its Wealth

Three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, “Frontline” on PBS began a two-part program, “Divided States of America,” documenting how the polarization of American public opinion has contributed to both stagnation in Washington and widespread popular anger, on both the left and the right, against the traditional two-party system.

The Frontline show failed to address the major role played by money in aggravating this public division. For example, it followed many popular accounts in tracing the emergence of the tax-revolt Tea Party to the apparently spontaneous call on February 19, 2009, by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli in Chicago, for a “tea party,” in response to President Barack Obama’s expensive bailouts.[12]

However, this event (on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a deep state institution) was not only staged, it had been prepared for in advance. A domain name, chicagoteaparty.org, had been registered for it in 2008, before Obama had even been elected.[13] Jane Mayer has conclusively demonstrated the role in the funding groups behind the Tea Party played by the brothers Charles and David Koch, who in 2014 were two of the ten richest people on earth, worth a combined $32 billion as owners of the largest private oil company in America.[14]  (Today their wealth is estimated at $84 billion.)

More important, as Mayer pointed out,

the Tea Party was not “a new strain” in American politics. The scale was unusual, but history had shown that similar reactionary forces had attacked virtually every Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt. Earlier business-funded right-wing movements, from the Liberty League [of the 1930s] to the John Birch Society to [Richard Mellon] Scaife’s [anti-Clinton] Arkansas Project, all had cast Democratic presidents as traitors, usurpers, and threats to the Constitution. The undeniable element of racial resentment that tinged many Tea Party rallies was also an old and disgracefully enduring story in American politics.[15]

The Kochs’ lavish funding of the Tea Party, along with anti-tax candidates and climate-change deniers, was only one more phase in what I described in 1996 as

an enduring struggle between “America Firsters” and “New World Order” globalists, pitting, through nearly all of this [20th] century, the industry-oriented (e.g. the National Association of Manufacturers) against the financial-oriented (e.g. the Council on Foreign Relations), two different sources of wealth.[16]

A decade later Trump has revived the slogan of “America First!”, and vowed to reconsider both NATO and multilateral trade. Both factions are still there today; but, as we shall see, both now have international connections.

Read further…

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Attention please


Pay Attention – The Council

You have now moved into the space and energy that you identify as your new year. In this year, you will need to pay attention as never before. Therefore, we have several pieces of advice that are now appropriate to pass on to you.

We have, in the past, commented several times about your asking to ‘bring it on’. Friends, it is now about to be ‘brought on’. This year is going to be about change in such volumes that you will despair of ever being able to catch up. You will, of course. But a day of peace will be a treasure.

You were told that the Fall of last year would be the time when everything changed. It was. Everything has changed. Now is the time when it will become increasingly impossible to hide that fact from you. That impossibility has been growing for some time, and is actually a major part of the tidal wave of change that is about to impact you in ways you do not yet imagine.

There are now several realities present upon your world. More accurately, you have within your consciousness many alternate realities to choose from and integrate into some lesser number of agreed upon new realities. There will, of course, be a more general, overall consensus. But even at that, your world has split.

And you are about to move rapidly into a world you have considered to be fictional fantasy. That is fine. You will deal with it as you will. But beyond that, we will advise you that your powers of discernment will be needed as never before.

You will be bombarded daily with accounts, explanations, reasons, visions, and sounds that simply cannot all be considered to be true. It will be your purview to decide what is true in your world and what is not. Now, a new technology is what it is. But the stories behind what you see are only stories. Someone will have decided what you may know. They will have decided that you may know. And they will have decided what portion of truth you are to be told. Always realize that.

Some may in fact have learned the facts and have taken it upon themselves to make sure you hear them. Be sure you know how to identify those people and that information.

It may be that you are too busy taking care of yourselves and your families to worry very much about what we have just said. That is alright. Let the world become what it will become. The outcome of what we are discussing has already been decided by you. It is, in your three-dimensional perception, what you have come here to implement.

You will now begin to notice more internal change than ever before. The numbers of you that are able to feel this are increasing exponentially. And each one is affecting all they come into contact with. Even those whom you would consider unaffected are actually changing. It will take conscious decision and great effort to remain in your ‘old world’. So, even though an individual may not be exactly what you would term a ‘lightworker’, he or she will have changed from what they were years, months, or even weeks ago. Remember, each of you is in a differing state of progress, as well.

How do you look at this new state of affairs? It will often appear to be total chaos. Well, in total chaos, total harmony is born. You came to participate in this birth. How will you participate. Will you complain? Will you contribute to a solution? Your contribution may seem small and local. But as we have often told you, nothing you do is really ever small nor local. Every change you make affects the whole. Resolve to make those changes that you can make. Those changes are why you are where you are. Consider whether any president, prime minister, or other ‘mover and shaker’ would be able and in place to do what is there for you to do today. They are not. And they can only do what is front of them, as well. You may well consider that humanity is just a being doing its best, in spite of itself. And that requires your input.

We can today promise you that the world you will see in fifty-two weeks will not resemble the world you are seeing today. As we used to love telling you, keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times.

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Populism takes over the world – elite establishment still baffled and clueless how the world is changing


Yet another label has been consigned to the masses. Call or label it what you want…but, I will stick to the old phrase Winds of Change and…

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

Utopia

populism-wave
November 2016GEOPOLITICSWhen you first encounter the word “populism,” you might think it’s a close cousin of democracy, with all the positive connotations that go along with it. And for some, it may well seem a purer form of a process by which politicians harness the will of the majority. But that’s only part of the picture. Populism—ostensibly a belief in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people—often requires a bogeyman, be it an existing government, the supposed cultural elite, the media, or a particular ethnic, racial, or religious group.
As a form of horizontal political power, populism has been instrumental to legal, agrarian, and social reforms through the years. But it’s also played a starring role in the rise of demagogues and therefore some of the ugliest episodes in human history. Republican Donald Trump’s electoral-college victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last week was…

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The 4 Stages of Life According to Carl Jung


iheartintelligence

As we wander through this journey that is life, we go through fundamental changes. Some people use terms like “quarter-life crisis” or “middle age” to define where it is we think we are in our lives along the way. To me, there aren’t destinations in life. There are milestones for sure, but we can often come back to the same places that we were before. That is what I love about Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s 4 Stages of Life. As he described them, these stages have to do with who we are as people and our motivations. They have nothing to do with age or accomplishment, and throughout our lives we often move forward and backward from these stages. As Jung once said, “Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” These are the 4 stages of life, according to Carl Jung:

The Athlete

The athlete is the phase in our lives when we are at our most self-absorbed. There are people in our lives that have never made it out of this phase, or often revert back to it. Of the 4 stages, it tends to be the least mature. It is characterized by being obsessed with our physical bodies and appearance. For an example of the athlete phase, watch teenagers walk past a mirror. The athlete phase can be narcissistic, critical, or even both.

The Warrior

Moving forward in our lives, we reach the warrior phase. This is where we begin to take on responsibilities and get the desire to conquer the world. Well, maybe not the world for some of us, but this is when we become more goal oriented. All of the sudden we can see objectives that we want to accomplish and the vanity of the athlete phase begins to fade. The warrior phase is really characterized by the struggles in our lives that early adulthood can throw at us. The warrior phase is also the most common pshase that people revert back to throughout their lives as they “re-invent” themselves.
Read: 22 of the Most Insightful Quotes from Carl Jung

The Statement

When the warrior phase in our lives is coming to an end, we find ourselves asking: “what have I done for others?” Your focuses shift from your personal achievements to accomplishing goals based on forwarding other people’s lives. This stage is often correlated to parenting, because your focus becomes providing a better life for your children, and what it is you need to do that. The statement phase for many people is much more than a correlation to parenting, and more about leaving a legacy or a footprint in life. The statement phase is a time to reflect on what you have accomplished, and how you can continue moving forward – not just for you, but for the other people in your life. As far as maturity goes, the statement phase is a huge step forward from even the warrior phase.
Read: Which of the 4 Types of Introvert are You?

The Spirit

The final stage of life is the spirit stage. In this stage, we realize that we are more than what we have accumulated – be it money, friends, possessions, good deeds, or milestones in life. We are spiritual beings. We realize that we are divine beings in a journey of life that has no real beginning and no end. The spirit phase is characterized by a sense of “getting out of your own mind” and focusing on what is waiting for us beyond our physical beings. The philosopher Lao Tzu proposed a question over 2500 years ago that perfectly describes the spirit phase: ““Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.”

 

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The Problem with Wanting to “Change the World”


 

Change has nothing to do with others, it is with you


changeproblem

At the gym earlier this afternoon I caught a snippet of what was literally a water-cooler conversation between two women, each of whom appeared to be in her late 40s.  The subject of the conversation was one of the women’s daughters who just this week is starting her freshman year of college.

Woman #1 (to the woman whose daughter is starting college): “What’s she majoring in?”

Woman #2: “Political science.  She wants eventually to run for office.  She tells me all the time, ‘Mom, I want to change the world!’  And she means it.  She’s volunteering for the Clinton campaign.”

Woman #1: That’s so great!  You must be so proud!”

Woman #2: “I am!”

…..

Were I not a model of politeness, I would have turned to Woman #2 and said, “Ma’am, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation.  I’ve one request: Please tell your daughter to mind her own business.  The world doesn’t need the kind of change that politicians, both actual and aspiring, want to bring.”

This “change-the-world” meme is, at best, juvenile.  At its worst it is downright dangerous.

I’m certain that there’s a great deal in the world that could be changed for the better.  But I’m equally certain that no such beneficial change will be achieved by social-engineering performed by politicians and other government officials.

The world changes for the better incrementally, bit by bit, and experimentally.  Smith opens a new restaurant in competition with Jones’s established restaurant, and consumers – spending their own money – ultimately decide if one or the other or both is to continue operating or shut down.  This competition changes the world very slightly: the restaurant scene in this town is improved.  Williams breaks his addiction to alcohol and returns to school to learn a trade; his success at getting a job as a machinist or electrician improves the world.  Johnson invents a new app to help birdwatchers keep track of interesting sitings: this advance, too, changes the world.

With rare exceptions, each world-improving event is too small to be detected in statistics.  It’s not sufficiently newsworthy to land its doer’s name in the headlines.  It’s one of millions of everyday improvements, each one small, but the sum total amounting to noticeable change indeed over time.

Most people who want to change the world seldom pause to ponder what, exactly, about the world needs changing.  After all, much about the world is pretty darn good and, hence, is likely not an appropriate candidate for the wiles of any “change-agent.”  Worse, most people who want to change the world have in mind schemes that involve forcing others to behave in ways that these others would otherwise not behave.

Our world has massively changed, mostly for the better, over the past two or three centuries.  And nearly all of this change came in doses so small that the names of those who performed each beneficial change were never widely known and are today lost forever in the thick mists of history.  Most – although by no mean all – of the “change-agents” whose names are known were human butchers (e.g., Hitler and Stalin) or arrogant ‘men of system’ (e.g., Clement Attlee and Franklin Roosevelt) who saddled others with counterproductive burdens and restrictions even if the destructiveness of these efforts is today still largely denied.

The bottom line is that attempts to “change the world” whole – to change it in a way that is noticeable and traceable to one action or small set of actions – is the height of arrogance.  No such change, no matter how well-intentioned the change-agent, will be for the better.  Beneficial efforts to change the world are almost always small, incremental, and performed in the voluntary sector of society – in the market, in families, in civil society.  Not in or through the state.  Most beneficial change occurs by adding small drops to the Prosperity Pool.  Not by making big splashes in that Pool.

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Art of The Lie


What is Post-truth politics?

Post-truth politics is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy and by the repeated assertion of talking points, to which factual rebuttals are ignored. While post-truth political techniques have long played a role in campaigns worldwide, the contemporary origin of the term is attributed to blogger David Roberts[1][2] who used the term in 2010 in a column for Grist. It became widespread during the 2016 presidential election in the United States and the the 2016 referendum on membership in the European Union in the United Kingdom.[3][4] Political commentators have identified post-truth politics as ascendant in American, Australian, British and Indian politics, as well as in other areas of debate, driven by a combination of the 24-hour news cycle, false balance in news reporting, and the increasing ubiquity of social mediaWiki


…by none other (who knows better than) :

TheEconomist

Politicians have always lied. Does it matter if they leave the truth behind entirely?

economistlie

CONSIDER how far Donald Trump is estranged from fact. He inhabits a fantastical realm where Barack Obama’s birth certificate was faked, the president founded Islamic State (IS), the Clintons are killers and the father of a rival was with Lee Harvey Oswald before he shot John F. Kennedy.

Mr Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact. His brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power. And he is not alone. Members of Poland’s government assert that a previous president, who died in a plane crash, was assassinated by Russia. Turkish politicians claim the perpetrators of the recent bungled coup were acting on orders issued by the CIA. The successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union warned of the hordes of immigrants that would result from Turkey’s imminent accession to the union.

If, like this newspaper, you believe that politics should be based on evidence, this is worrying. Strong democracies can draw on inbuilt defences against post-truth. Authoritarian countries are more vulnerable.

Lord of the lies

That politicians sometimes peddle lies is not news: think of Ronald Reagan’s fib that his administration had not traded weapons with Iran in order to secure the release of hostages and to fund the efforts of rebels in Nicaragua. Dictators and democrats seeking to deflect blame for their own incompetence have always manipulated the truth; sore losers have always accused the other lot of lying.

But post-truth politics is more than just an invention of whingeing elites who have been outflanked. The term picks out the heart of what is new: that truth is not falsified, or contested, but of secondary importance. Once, the purpose of political lying was to create a false view of the world. The lies of men like Mr Trump do not work like that. They are not intended to convince the elites, whom their target voters neither trust nor like, but to reinforce prejudices.

Feelings, not facts, are what matter in this sort of campaigning. Their opponents’ disbelief validates the us-versus-them mindset that outsider candidates thrive on. And if your opponents focus on trying to show your facts are wrong, they have to fight on the ground you have chosen. The more Remain campaigners attacked the Leave campaign’s exaggerated claim that EU membership cost Britain £350m ($468m) a week, the longer they kept the magnitude of those costs in the spotlight.

Post-truth politics has many parents. Some are noble. The questioning of institutions and received wisdom is a democratic virtue. A sceptical lack of deference towards leaders is the first step to reform. The collapse of communism was hastened because brave people were prepared to challenge the official propaganda.

But corrosive forces are also at play. One is anger. Many voters feel let down and left behind, while the elites who are in charge have thrived. They are scornful of the self-serving technocrats who said that the euro would improve their lives and that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Popular trust in expert opinion and established institutions has tumbled across Western democracies.

Post-truth has also been abetted by the evolution of the media (see Briefing). The fragmentation of news sources has created an atomised world in which lies, rumour and gossip spread with alarming speed. Lies that are widely shared online within a network, whose members trust each other more than they trust any mainstream-media source, can quickly take on the appearance of truth. Presented with evidence that contradicts a belief that is dearly held, people have a tendency to ditch the facts first. Well-intentioned journalistic practices bear blame too. The pursuit of “fairness” in reporting often creates phoney balance at the expense of truth. NASA scientist says Mars is probably uninhabited; Professor Snooks says it is teeming with aliens. It’s really a matter of opinion.

When politics is like pro-wrestling, society pays the cost. Mr Trump’s insistence that Mr Obama founded IS precludes a serious debate over how to deal with violent extremists. Policy is complicated, yet post-truth politics damns complexity as the sleight of hand experts use to bamboozle everyone else. Hence Hillary Clinton’s proposals on paid parental leave go unexamined (see article) and the case for trade liberalisation is drowned out by “common sense” demands for protection.

It is tempting to think that, when policies sold on dodgy prospectuses start to fail, lied-to supporters might see the error of their ways. The worst part of post-truth politics, though, is that this self-correction cannot be relied on. When lies make the political system dysfunctional, its poor results can feed the alienation and lack of trust in institutions that make the post-truth play possible in the first place.

Pro-truthers stand and be counted

To counter this, mainstream politicians need to find a language of rebuttal (being called “pro-truth” might be a start). Humility and the acknowledgment of past hubris would help. The truth has powerful forces on its side. Any politician who makes contradictory promises to different audiences will soon be exposed on Facebook or YouTube. If an official lies about attending a particular meeting or seeking a campaign donation, a trail of e-mails may catch him out.

Democracies have institutions to help, too. Independent legal systems have mechanisms to establish truth (indeed, Melania Trump has turned to the law to seek redress for lies about her past). So, in their way, do the independent bodies created to inform policy—especially those that draw on science.

If Mr Trump loses in November, post-truth will seem less menacing, though he has been too successful for it to go away. The deeper worry is for countries like Russia and Turkey, where autocrats use the techniques of post-truth to silence opponents. Cast adrift on an ocean of lies, the people there will have nothing to cling to. For them the novelty of post-truth may lead back to old-fashioned oppression.

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Malaysia the fragile federation


New Mandala

2577206469

31 August marks Malaysia’s independence. But not everyone is celebrating the federation, writes James Chin.


Today Malaysia celebrates Hari Merdeka or Independence Day.

But, the 31 August anniversary again raises the old debate about the actual date of independence and what the Federation means to the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. It’s a discussion that has happened this time every year for much of the past decade.

Most banners in Malaysia have ‘59’, marking when Malaya became independent in 1957. The ‘53’ comes from 1963 — the year when the Federation was formed.

For many years, the federal government in KL/Putrajaya did not take the difference in years seriously. The situation changed in 2010 with the creation of another public holiday — Malaysia Day — to be celebrated annually on 16 September and commemorating the formation of the Federation.

The sudden acknowledgment by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was no doubt in part to the increasing assertiveness of leaders in Sabah and Sarawak. Before 2008 Sabah and Sarawak were seen as a reliable ‘fixed deposit’ for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). The number of BN MPs elected from the Bornean states gave the BN a two-thirds majority in parliament.

The situation is markedly different now. The current Najib administration is holding on to power with a wafer-thin majority of 18 seats (as at July 2016). There are 47 BN MPs from Sabah (22) and Sarawak (25).  Najib would be out of a job without the BN MPs from East Malaysia.

To show his appreciation and to reflect the rise of East Malaysia, he appointed more than 15 federal ministers and deputy ministers from the two state. In fact, the second largest party in the federal BN is Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) from Sarawak, not the uni-racial Malaysian Chinese Association as is widely believed.

Najib’s perilous political position is made worse by the fact that UMNO does not have single MP from Sarawak. In fact, under a deal made during former Prime Minister Mahathir’s tenure, UMNO is not allowed into Sarawak.

Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the local Muslim party, is the defacto UMNO of Sarawak. It has ruled Sarawak since 1970 with a coalition that is beholden to it. PBB could easily rule Sarawak on its own, but the state’s diverse population requires it to keep a coalition government, the Sarawak BN, for political stability.

Unlike Sarawak, UMNO is in firm control of Sabah and UMNO Sabah’s boss, Musa Aman, is the state’s chief minister. His brother is Malaysia’s Foreign Minister.

The noisy debate in East Malaysia over ‘53-vs-59’ reflects the wider issue of Sabah and Sarawak’s status in the Malaysian Federation. Many Sabahans and Sarawakians are of the opinion that Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak (and Singapore before its expulsion from Malaysia in 1963) were the original founders of the Federation. Hence the argument that Sabah and Sarawak should not be merely treated as one of the 13 states in the Federation but as one of the three founding states.

This distinction is important for Sabah and Sarawak nationalists as they like to argue that both states should enjoy more rights compared to others. These rights, as the argument goes, are part of the original promises made by Tunku Abdul Rahman and other Malayan leaders when they approached Sabah and Sarawak back in 1961 to establish the Malaysian Federation. They further argue that many of these rights, collectively called the ’20 Points’, have been watered down over the last half century.

Sarawak-YoutubeWith UMNO relying on East Malaysia to stay in power, Adenan Satem, the chief minister of Sarawak, has been especially vocal in demanding more autonomy for the state. Just in the past week, he met Najib to pressure Petronas, the national oil corporation, to implement a Sarawak-First policy in hiring its workers in Sarawak. Najib also promised to appoint a representative of the Sabah and Sarawak governments to the Petronas board.

Adenan’s move was widely applauded in Sarawak, so much so that Netizens are asking why Musa Aman, Sabah’s chief minister, has been keeping quiet when it comes to state rights. It is not lost on Sabahans that Musa belongs to UMNO Sabah and Najib is his party chief.

The firm push for more autonomy for the two East Malaysian states comes at a time when various movements are actively seeking a referendum on the future position of Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysian Federation. Many of these groups, active on the social media, and especially Facebook, harbour dreams that one day Sabah and Sarawak will be independent states.

In Sarawak, some of these groups are covertly supported by the Sarawak BN. The Sarawak BN sees these groups as useful in helping to split the opposition vote and, more importantly, help Sarawak BN contain the threat represented by the opposition DAP and PKR. These two parties have some support among the local population and labeling them as ‘Malayan’ parties out to ‘colonise’ Sarawak is attractive rhetoric if you claim to be a Sarawak nationalist.

All four parties that make up the Sarawak BN — PBB, Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) — are local. They all claim to be Sarawak nationalists, despite the fact that on the very day they were established all of them joined the federal BN. But as they say, facts are irrelevant in politics; it’s perception that counts.

Until the next general election, we can expect Adenan to take the lead in negotiating with Najib to ‘take back’ some of the bureaucratic powers lost to Putrajaya during Mahathir’s tenure. Sabah will take a back seat for the simple reason that any deals for Sarawak will have to apply to Sabah as well. Both Adenan and Najib are hoping that Adenan’s ‘victories’ in securing more powers will lead to a massive win for Sabah and Sarawak BN in the coming general election.

At the grassroots level, the nationalists will be given a lot of leeway in promoting ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ and ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ as long as they are useful in painting the federal opposition as ‘outsiders’. In any other states in the peninsula, they would be arrested immediately for sedition.

The debate over state rights in Sabah and Sarawak could have long-term consequences for the Malaysian Federation. It is instructive to note that in the 1980s, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) used the state rights appeal to win several state elections in Sabah. This tactic directly led to the establishment of UMNO in Sabah, and the state’s politics were forever changed.

While the likelihood of UMNO entering Sarawak is remote now, this situation can change with the results of a single election. UMNO is playing ‘nice’ now because it needs Sarawak to stay in power. When UMNO is strong, it will behave in an entirely different manner. Any powers given back to Sarawak can easily be taken away as long as the centre (Putrajaya) in the Malaysian federation is all powerful under the federal constitution.

For lasting state rights, the leaders of Sabah and Sarawak must come together and insert autonomy into the Malaysian Constitution. Otherwise what we have is merely a bureaucratic maneuver that is only good until the next state or federal elections. 

Professor James Chin is Director, Asia Institute, University of Tasmania. Readers who are interested in exploring this issue further can read the author’s recent book (co-edited with Andrew Harding), 50 Years of Malaysia: Federation Revisited (2014).

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