Barisan talks up chances ahead of Sarawak polls

by Leslie Lau, Executive Editor | The Malaysian Insider

KUCHING, March 13 — Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri George Chan (picture) is confident of a near clean-sweep for the state’s Barisan Nasional (BN) amid growing talk of impending state elections, as the ruling coalition seeks a major boost ahead of the next general elections.

He told The Malaysian Insider earlier this week that national Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang have little traction in the state.

“Even at Anwar’s height Pakatan lost Batang Ai to BN in big numbers,” he said in reference to the by-election last year won easily by BN.

State elections must be called by May 2011, but speculation is rife that it will be held this year in what could be a barometer of how voters in the state will swing in national elections.

With voter support in peninsular Malaysia still appearing to be evenly split between BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR), Sarawak, and Sabah have become strategic states in the fight for federal power.

But resource-rich Sarawak with its growing wealth — reflected in the ongoing economic boom seen in major cities like Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri —appears to be a safe bet for the state BN.

Clean tree-lined streets, a proliferation of new shopping centres and brand-new houses in the state’s major cities are signs of an explosion in wealth that BN is banking on to win back urban voters it lost in the last state polls in 2006.

“There will still be a tough fight in the towns and city centres but I am confident we will do better. A clean sweep is not impossible,” said Chan.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the 74-year-old strongman who has been at the helm since 1981, has consistently led the state BN coalition to thumping victories.

Even at its worst performance, which was in the last elections, BN won a whopping 62 out of the 71 seats contested.

Most of the seats lost belonged to Chan’s SUPP, but he is now upbeat about regaining lost ground.

Chan also pointed out that Sarawak’s Chinese, who account for about 30 per cent of the state’s population, also do not share the level of frustration and disenchantment faced by the community in peninsular Malaysia.

He pointed out that Sarawak’s Chinese feel more integrated.

“The Chinese here are part and parcel of government. Many of them are in the civil service and hold senior positions.

“In Sarawak no one gets excited about religious intolerance because Muslims and non-Muslims are united. Sarawak offers many lessons for race relations,” he said.

Anwar and Lim are just about the only recognisable national political figures for Sarawakians.

But Chan is particularly dismissive of Anwar’s attraction in Sarawak.

“I do not think Anwar has much influence here. His credibility is in question in a lot of areas.

“PKR is still seen as a peninsular party. Their candidates may be local but they are still seen as outsiders, as master is in KL,” said Chan in reference to the strong parochial feeling in the state which translates into an often overriding resentment against federal intervention or interference.

The DAP, however, has had a long history in the state, and its local leadership has grown in influence to compete with SUPP for Chinese votes.

In the 2006 state elections, DAP made what was considered strong gains when the party won six seats to become the strongest opposition party.

The DAP’s Lim told The Malaysian Insider that he expects his party to at least hold its ground.

How well PR can perform will depend on whether the two main parties in the state — PKR and DAP — can work well together.

“Our target must be 24 or 36 seats. If we get 24 we deny BN its two-thirds majority. If we get 36 means we would have toppled the state government,” he said.

  1. #1 by dagen on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 11:40 am

    Development in sarawak? Maybe. But dont forget umno’s formula for development. Ask yourself. Who funds the development in sarawak? The people of sarawak! Who creates the demand for development in sarawak? The people of sarawak! Who carries out the development in sarawak? Umnoputras (now perkumnoputras) mainly and some local parties (even then they are usually polically connected to umno)! So where will the wealth of all sarawak people go to? The pockets of perkumnoputras. In short they have constructed an invisible pipeline to siphon the wealth from sarawak. And just let the arrangement go on for another 5yrs. What would happen? That obscene that very vulgar claim of ketuanan rights will eat into sarawak. Then, the people of sarawak can very well forget about participating in the development of their own state.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 11:56 am

    PR should emulate the Penang state govt and pledge to deliver at least RM100 annually to all Sarawakian senior citizens, should it come to power there. This is not impossible considering the vast natural resources there.

  3. #3 by ShiokGuy on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 11:59 am

    Dear Kits…

    Please push for indelible ink!

    I have blogged about this before the Batang Ai By-Election and it is better PR is pushing for this now.

    Another issue of West Malaysia based parties contesting in Sarawak is always a “Sore Point”. Sarawakian generally does not trust West Malaysia Based parties.

    Do something sincere to win the trust, don’t ask us to just trust you. Do something, Show us, prove it and you will earn it..

    Trust can only be earned, Not ASK!

    Shiok Guy

  4. #4 by k1980 on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 12:04 pm

    perkumnoputras? You mean perkosaputras?

  5. #5 by dagen on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 1:38 pm

    Why perkumnoputra and not perkosaputras? (1) I want to draw the connection between perkasa and umno. The former is actually the latter in disguise. (2) I like the “kum” part of “perkumnoputra”. This somehow (to my mind) gives them an obsence/vulgar connotation. After all they are a bunch of worthless trouble-makers of the mat rempit variety. So really I see them as nothing but vulgar. The same goes for the claim of ketuanan. Its an obsence word. And we should just treat it as such.

  6. #6 by chengho on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 2:36 pm

    PR and Dap people your guy still dreaming. People of sarawak can see how Dap government rule in Penang with leg authoratic and chauvinist style. Look at Anwar permatang pauh area still the back water of penang.

  7. #7 by frankyapp on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 3:19 pm

    KUCHING, March 13 — Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri George Chan (picture) is confident of a near clean-sweep for the state’s Barisan Nasional (BN) amid growing talk of impending state elections, as the ruling coalition seeks a major boost ahead of the next general elections…..Well and good for such arrongant big talk.The people are watchng. Just like a couple of week ago,the Malaka CM in Kota Kinabalu talked talked big about BN Sabah total clean sweep in the next election. These two guys talked as if they and BN own Sarawak and Sabah. We know Mr.Chan and the Sarawak CM are treating the state like their family affairs.And for Mr.Ali Rostam of Melaka,the whole nation knows you are a “political money broker” and we also know your motive coming over to Sabah. Chan and Ali could say what they liked but I know substantial number of voters in Sarawak and Sabah are pretty not happy with them and their Umno/BN dirty and corrupted tactics to lure innocent and sincere people into their trap. I think the majority of Sarawakians and Sabahans have enough of BN’s bull’s shxts ,And this time around would turn the table over them ( BN).

  8. #8 by DCLXVI on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 4:57 pm

    chengho: “PR and Dap people your guy still dreaming. People of sarawak can see how Dap government rule in Penang with leg authoratic and chauvinist style. Look at Anwar permatang pauh area still the back water of penang.”

    Yes, Pakatan Rakyat still has a dream, and it is to further defeat/upset Umno-BN at the polls…

    Certain people were denied/prevented from earning some ‘extra side income’ by Penang’s Pakatan Rakyat state government, and therefore, it’s obvious that they would accuse this state government of being all sorts of negative things…

    If Anwar is actually to be blamed by the people of Permatang Pauh for turning their constituency into the ‘backwater of Penang’, they wouldn’t have bothered to vote for him or his wife in the first place…

  9. #9 by PSM on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 6:12 pm

    Bro Kit,

    I would love the PR to whip the BN in the next Sarawak State Elections. BUT, unfortunatley if the PR keeps making the same mistakes, this will not happen!
    As far as the Sarawakians are concerned, the DAP & PKR are just more Peninsular-based parties trying to come into Sarawak (like-wise Sabah too).
    What the PR needs is a legit Sarawak-based party to join the PR as a partner!
    Or maybe the DAP & PKR just continue to do what they have always done in Sarawak (& Sabah) & expect a different result?
    That’s not going to work!
    This chance comes only once in a few years…PLEASE, PLEASE make the most of it!

  10. #10 by johnnypok on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 7:02 pm

    Not easy for opposition to win state seats, but the next parliamentary election results will review the exact sentiment, with a warning to KL, for Sabahans are ready to punish BN. No amount of money or empty promises will work this time. May God bless Sabah and Sarawak.

  11. #11 by tanjong8 on Saturday, 13 March 2010 - 8:11 pm

    Remember chengho was a eunuch.

    BN will win if there are more eunuchs in Sarawak, for sure.

  12. #12 by lopez on Sunday, 14 March 2010 - 1:23 pm

    sarawakians can only save themselves, PKR and DAP and PR are only helping the people to see the light of future.

    So far the light with pee end and their cronies are desperate since 308 and slipping day in day out…just what intelligence came out from minds of these people.

  13. #13 by johnnypok on Monday, 15 March 2010 - 4:06 pm

    Base on theresults of GE12, the PM post should be given to Sarawak, and the DPM from Sabah.

    PM = Taib Mahmud

    DPM 1 = Yong Teck Lee

    DPM 2 = Karpal Singh

You must be logged in to post a comment.