The prelude to the Battle for Putrajaya

By Thomas Lee

The dissolution of the 71-seat Sarawak legislative state assembly on Monday 21 March 2001 has set the stage for the introductory phrase of the Battle for Putrajaya.

The Sarawak state election is a foreshadow of the battle royale between the Barisan Nasional and its formidable foe Pakatan Rakyat in the impending 13th general election for the control of Putrajaya.

The Sarawak Barisan Nasional is not expected to have an easy time sailing through smoothly in the current state election, unlike almost all previous state elections when it literally had the monopoly of the Sarawakian support.

The alternative Pakatan Rakyat coalition is going all out to cash in on the current revolutionary fervor in Egypt and in almost the wholes region of the Middle East to sound a clarion call to the people of Malaysia for an electoral revolution to oust what it claims to be an oppressive and corrupt regime. And Sarawak will be the acid test on whether the momentum of the March 2008 tsunamic impact is gathering force or losing steam in its march to Putrajaya.

Long-serving incumbent Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud himself is certain to be the focus of an all-out political assault, mostly through a concerted cyber campaign, over what has been exposed as his alleged enormous personal wealth and properties, including those in some major cities in the West. As it is, over the last few months, there had been many cyber postings on his alleged remarkably prodigious financial empire.

In view of the fact that the main stream media (MSM) have been known and are expected to be very bias and one-sided in their coverage and reporting on the electoral campaigning, the Pakatan Rakyat has mobilized its cyber campaigners and friendly bloggers to launch a massive drive to deliver its message to the people through the cyber space.

The timing seems to be in favour of the Pakatan Rakyat as a new generation of well-educated, well-informed, independent-thinking and professional young voters are clamouring for change, and are not afraid to vote against the establishment. A substantial number of these urban and semi-urban based young people are expected to give their votes to the alternative coalition.

However, the Pakatan Rakyat is certain to have a real hard time breaking through into the rural areas, which comprised most of the constituencies. Despite facing many problems involving customary native land, etc, the rural populace seems to be comfortable and happy with the Barisan Nasional as most of them, particularly the household heads, have benefited from its development policies and programmes. It is expected that the Sarawak Barisan Nasional will exploit their soft spot by pouring in massive grants and allocations during the election campaign.

The Ibans constitute nearly 35% of the Sarawak population, with a large majority of them being Christians. It is this group of Iban Christians that could help the Pakatan Rakyat gain a foothold in the rural constituencies, particularly with the current controversy over the seizure of the Bahasa Malaysia Bible and the restriction on its distribution by the Barisan Nasional federal government.

Although the federal government has announced that there is no restriction on the Malay Bible in Sarawak and Sabah, and that Christians in both states are allowed to used the word “Allah” as the name of God, the unreasonable conditions and restrictions imposed on Christians in peninsular Malaysia have also anger the Christians in Sarawak. They feel that solidarity with their “sisters and brothers in Christ” requires them to stand firmly in the “Body of Christ” in opposing the unjustified and unconstitutional conditions and restrictions. Hence, the Sarawak Christians are expected to use their votes to send the message to the Barisan Nasional federal government that enough is enough and it has to stop its nonsense.

Meanwhile, the Chinese make up 26% of the population of Sarawak, and they are a formidable electoral force in the urban areas.

In the 2006 Sarawak state election, the DAP sent the Barisan Nasional’s Chinese flag-bearer Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) packing by winning eight seats, a marvelous performance in the face of the powerful massive Barisan Nasional election machinery, resources and personnel.

The DAP is expected to do sweep the Chinese-majority areas in the current state election, hammering in the final nail into the SUPP coffin.

The Chinese community has lately been bombarded with stories and allegations of corruption and cronyism among the state leaders. SUPP president George Chan’s daughter Elisa Chan Wai Kuen @ Anisa Hamidah Abdullah has been alleged to have received 12% of 269 acres of prime land near BDC Stampin in Kuching, and the people are demanding that George come clear and clean on the matter. It is expected that the Pakatan Rakyat will highlight this issue and demand for accountability and transparency on it.

Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Cheing Jen had recently listed 10 urgent matters which the party said the Taib and the state authorities should seriously look into and take action to rectify them.

The vital issues Chong raised are (1) the increasing crime rate, (2) high accident rate, (3) state budget deficit, (4) state government debt amounting to RM408 billion, (5) the brain drain, (6) unemployed graduates, (7) illegal immigrants, (8) corruption, (9) multi-billionaire chief minister, and (10) high transport costs cum lack of public transport.

The DAP is all set to make waves during the election campaigning among the Sarawak Chinese, who belong to a wide range of dialect groups, the most significant being the Hakka, Hokkien, Teochew, Hailam, Foochow, and Puxian Min.

As there is a substantial number of Sarawak Chinese who are Christians, it is expected that most of them will cast their votes to register their solidarity with their fellow believers in the peninsula over the Bible seizure and Allah issues.

It is anticipated that election bribes masquerading as government grants will again be offered to the churches, like during the last year’s Sibu by-election. I hope the church members in Sarawak will unite to oppose their pastors and church leaders from accepting those so-called grants to discourage and stop such unethical and immoral practices. The Sibu incident has put the whole Christian community to shame, and I hope it will not be repeated.

The current Sarawak state election is set to be a very fiercely-fought electoral battle, and will be the real baptism of fire for the Pakatan Rakyat.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - 11:55 am

    What prelude, appetizer or fore play? D battle 4 Putrajaya sudah begun loh, wake up lah

  2. #2 by dagen on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - 12:26 pm

    Put in a two-party system sarawakians. Regain the true meaning of democracy and real essence of general election.

    Democracy jenis umno with asian values means they suck the country dry and we must continue to let them.

    General election jenis umno means however we cast our votes in general election umno still wins and continues to suck us dry.

    Do not let these continue. Stop them. Stop umno. Kick them out.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - 5:14 pm

    The pertinent question is:

    “Are the Sarawakians angry and fed-up enough now”?

    Will the voters stand up and be counted, be brave, and put a cross (+) [not ‘x’] on the ballot papers for the candidates of their choice?

    If they do, then their brothers in Sabah will also do the same soon.

    Let Sarawak be the Battleground where the Fixed Deposits are prematurely uplifted triggering a run on Bank Barisan Nasional.

    Make it happen. Sound the war drums. Blow the horns. Wake up the hornbills. Assemble the warriors. March to Petrajaya and Putrajaya.

    You can do it.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - 5:16 pm

    Moderated yet again.

    I think someone is getting personal, got a grudge against me. I am a marked man.

    But never mind.

  5. #5 by dagen on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - 5:54 pm

    Yeah sheriff I think this blog site has a new moderator. I hv got many of my comments moderated out of view too. Sorry to say this people (no offence intended) but I think this new moderator is female.

    Hellooo. Can I buy you a drink moderator. Can we talk?

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