What Do West Malaysians Know About Sabah, Sarawak? Not Even Their Capitals.

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What Do West Malaysians Know About Sabah, Sarawak? Not Even Their Capitals.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Let’s face it. Many Malaysians from the peninsula know very little about Sabah, Sarawak and its people.

In three days, we mark the 55th year since the two states and Singapore joined Malaya to form the country we have come to call home.

Although both west and east Malaysia — separated by the South China Sea — are now more  “connected” thanks to budget airlines and the internet, we are still apart.

To test just how well peninsular Malaysians know about Sabah and Sarawak, Malay Mail did a random survey in the capital city last weekend; they were asked five basic questions about communities from the two states.

And the replies we got were quite surprising and funny, but also sort of expected.

Two people who participated in a random survey in Kuala Lumpur last weekend on how well peninsular Malaysians know about Sabah and Sarawak.

For example, most of those interviewed couldn’t tell the difference between the Dayak and Kadazan-Dusun people, the two Bumiputera communities which form the largest ethnic groups in Sarawak and Sabah. Interviewees often got them mixed up.

Many also have little or no knowledge about Kaamatan, the most important calendar date for the indigenous groups of Sabah.

Kaamatan, a harvest festival just like Gawai in Sarawak, is celebrated the whole of May and ends with a public holiday on a date selected by a priestess known as the bobohizan. Gawai is celebrated by the Dayaks at the start of June.

Then there’s the food. Despite the emergence of travel channels and blogs, our interviewees were absolutely clueless when asked to name them.

There are dozens of delicacies served during both Kaamatan and Gawai but the most common are bambangan (a seasonal wild mango fruit) and butod (sago grub) for the former, and pansoh manok or lemongrass chicken cooked in bamboos.

The survey was not intended to poke fun at our general ignorance of our fellow Malaysians across the sea, but as a light-hearted eye-opener to show that we need to work a little harder to get to know each other.

Happy Malaysia Day in advance.

[Source: “What do West Malaysians know about Sabah, Sarawak? Not even their capitals.” published by Malay Mail]
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