Chong on Malaysian politics and what PH govt can do about it

DAP Sarawak Committee members with Chong (seated third from left) at the press conference.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, March 3: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak is concerned about the emergence of a dangerous trend in Malaysian politics.

Elaborating this, state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jeng said during the Semenyih and Cameron Highlands by-elections, where Pakatan Harapan (PH) lost both seats to the Barisan Nasional (BN), racial and religious issues were played up.

“This is a very dangerous trend that we’ve noted. It does play an important role that can sway votes and determine the victory or loss of a by-election,” Chong told a press conference here today.

Chong opined that the PH government should focus on economic and social development, welfare, health and education issues, among others, that are ‘colour blind’ to race or religion.

“As for the state, our PH struggles are agendas that cut across all races and religions. We will not succumb to race cards, like what Umno or PAS are doing.”

Accepting the defeat, Chong added that DAP Sarawak respected the voters’ decision and it also served as a big wake up call to PH national leaders and members nationwide.

He added that the defeat was also a combination of other factors, including the unfulfilled election manifesto.

“There are rationalisation and explanation that PH has only been in power for nine months, so some manifesto cannot be delivered. Nevertheless, more efforts needed to be put in to honour our election manifesto.

“In fact, there are some that can be delivered but have not been delivered. So, our national leaders need to buck up.”

In the Semenyih by-election yesterday, BN recaptured the state seat when its candidate, Zakaria Hanafi, won the four-cornered contest with a majority of 1,914 votes.

Meanwhile, the DAP Sarawak committee today also had a meeting to discuss their preparations for the 12th state election, which is due in 2021.

“I cannot disclose the details or strategies, but we will cooperate and work closely with other PH component parties. We must make sure that it will be a one-to-one fight with GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak).”

Since PH Sarawak has accepted Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Sarawak into its fold, Chong said there would be some seat adjustments and negotiations.

“However, we will leave the seat negotiation aside for the time being because that is a secondary issue. Right now, we want to emphasise on working together between the four parties, like setting up secretariats, organising joint events and so on.”

He acknowledged that seat negotiations would take a long time to settle, maybe up to the eleventh hour, as happened in previous elections.

“From past experiences, negotiations will go back and forth before the final conclusion can be made. On the other hand, if we wait for the negotiations to finish and only then we prepare to move on the ground, nothing will be done. Groundwork cannot wait; it must be carried out from now.”

Therefore, all the party’s elected representative had been assigned to look after several rural areas or seats they had not won.

Chong said the elected representatives would set up their teams at the respective areas assigned to them and start moving on the ground, adding that if that particular seat was going to be contested by the DAP, then they would take charge.

Otherwise, the team would set up their base to help their component parties in PH. — DayakDaily