On his recent visit to Sarawak, PM Muhyiddin called our biggest state a “region“.
It could be Putrajaya’s tacit concession that the Federation of Malaysia comprises three regions: Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak.
This verbal acknowledgment from peninsula’s power centre comes amidst renegotiation between the federal government and the two Borneo states on the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
The making and breaking of countries
Great Britain too has got three regions. They are England, Scotland and Wales in the British isles.
Together with Northern Ireland which is on a separate island, all four regions are collectively known as the United Kingdom.
The word ‘nation’ can be translated to ‘bangsa’. In England, they’re bangsa Inggeris (the English nation); in Scotland, they’re bangsa Scottish, in Wales, they’re bangsa Welsh and in Northern Ireland, they’re bangsa Irish.
Northern Ireland (UK) occupies roughly one-fifth of the island while the remaining four-fifths are the Republic of Ireland.
Dublin is the capital of the independent Irish republic while Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland.
Presently in Belfast, they’re engaged in rioting.
The nationalists (remember our operative word ‘nation’ = bangsa) in Northern Ireland are still ‘fighting’ the unionists who support British rule, i.e. upholding the current union with Great Britain.
In earlier decades, nationalists had fought much harder. The IRA blew up an uncle of Prince Phillip (Queen Elizabeth II’s recently deceased husband) in August 1979 by detonating a bomb planted in his fishing boat.
The people of the Republic of Ireland are Catholic, as are the northern Irish nationalists.
Catholic MPs of Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland’s nationalist party) refuse to swear the parliamentary oath to serve the Queen. Those Irish loyal to the throne, on the other hand, are Protestants.
There have been violent sectarian clashes in Northern Ireland this past week between the Catholic nationalists and the Protestant unionists.
Political observers believe it is only a matter of time before Northern Ireland reunifies with the Republic of Ireland.
Nations are like carik-carik bulu ayam, akhirnya bercantum juga. The reunification of East Germany and West Germany was inevitable.
North Vietnam similarly reunified with South Vietnam.
Although North Korea is communist and South Korea is K-Pop, both are satu bangsa Korea.
American military strategists expect China to absorb Taiwan in days to come. Taiwan styles herself the Republic of China; Beijing says there cannot be two China’s.
Going the opposite direction are countries artificially cobbled together that eventually must break apart.
Yugoslavia lasted some fifty years before famously splitting into Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and the Republic of North Macedonia.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) – once the world’s biggest country – is today fifteen different countries:
Russia has been amassing her troops this week on the eastern border of Ukraine.
A little under one-fifth of the Ukrainian population are of Russian ethnicity.
Is Russia’s President Putin once again considering his existential ‘Bangsa’ question? See below NatGeo’s earlier commentary titled ‘Ethnic Russians: Pretext for Putin’s Ukraine Invasion?’
In Ukraine’s Donetsk province, for example, three-quarters of the population speak Russian as their mother tongue.
Pro-Russian separatists claim control over the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk. The armed conflict in Donbas has been ongoing since April 2014.
Russia also annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in Feb-March 2014. The population of Crimea is 65 percent ethnic Russian compared to 15 percent ethnic Ukrainian.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 enroute to KL from Amsterdam was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014.
Dutch investigators have concluded that MAS’s Boeing 777 was hit by a surface-to-air missile supplied to pro-Russian rebels.
Dutch prosecutors blame a former Russian intelligence officer who operated out of the rebel-held city of Donetsk for downing our passenger plane.
MH17 had been inadvertently in the line of fire.