Porous borders, vibrant cultures

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For those who live far from the country’s borders, as most of us do, the country’s demarcations appear solid. But those who actually live there know a different reality.

Lines on the map frequently don’t correspond with life on the ground, and this is particularly true in Borneo, which has a very long and complex history. For one, the people living on opposite sides of the Malaysian-Indonesian border aren’t always strangers to each other, unlike Peninsular Malaysians and their neighbours. Borneans on both sides of the border are frequently family or friends, divided nominally into two or more nationalities after international boundaries were drawn.

This reality came under the spotlight earlier last year when Malaysians woke up to find Filipino gunmen on Sabah’s shores reclaiming land for a defunct Sulu Sultanate.


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