Let us do GE14 the Sarawak way

BN and PKR supporters sitting together like brothers,


By Lian Cheng

It is extremely heartwarming to hear Pakatan Harapan-Democratic Action Party (PH-DAP) Bandar Kuching candidate Dr Kelvin Yii praising his opponent Barisan Nasional-Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (BN-SUPP) candidate Kho Teck Wan.

The young medical doctor who also has a degree in medical law told DayakDaily that he had a lot of respect of his opponent and he would not succumb to character assassination, mudslinging, personal attacks or name-calling.

At the same time, he believed Kho would do the same for him, where their battle in Bandar Kuching will be a civilised one with both candidates trying their best to convince the voters by stressing on their strengths, merits and policies and not to capitalise on their opponent’s weaknesses.

It is refreshing and impressive to see the young upcoming politicians from both the ruling and opposition being rational, cultured and civilised.

With the number of young voters increasing and older ones fading away, Sarawak is heading into a new era of new politics which rises above race and regionalism.

This is also the hope of state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian, who as an Orang Ulu is contesting in a predominantly Iban parlimentary constituency of Selangau. Of course, the question for Baru now is whether Selangau voters are ready for him as Selangau is still very much a rural constituency.

Baru’s appeal undoubtedly will work in urban areas. And indeed, a careful read into the aspirations of many netizens will show that their political inclinations are no longer bound by their race and locality.

They may be paying much attention to rural seats, because of their roots in these areas, but netizens are basically urban creatures, a total different sort from their parents.

The support and allegiance of many netizens (we are not talking about cyber troopers here) lies with the ones they believe will fight for more than just something materialistic and tangible such as roads, water and electricity. Careful observation on online postings and thoughts shared and expressed shows that the new generation can see beyond race and religion.

For those who are still asking for basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads, many of them are in the sense raising awareness not for themselves, but for others, who are still dwelling in rural areas. They do it because of their sense of justice and empathy, not because they are the victims.

The younger generation voters and netizens now want to see justice, equality and respect for others prevail apart from wanting to see all races and religions well respected by all, thanks to widespread education.

While we are witnessing something wonderful happening among us, we are also reminded to maintain what is beautiful that is deeply rooted in our part of the world — a strong communal spirit and the Sarawak way of life.

Husband and wife on a motorcycle heading back home after nomination day.

In villages and longhouses, signs suggest that support for the opposition is on the rise but hostility between rural supporters on different sides of the political divides has yet to rear its ugly head. This perhaps is due to the strong communal spirit and respect for tradition as well as the Sarawak way of life where people are always ready to accept those different from them.

With increasing support for the opposition, political polarisation is inevitable. We thus need to stay vigilant and remain alert where politicians, regardless of their political inclinations, would set a good example of trying to convince their voters through speech with rationality and respect, and not through stoking racial and religious sentiments.

Sarawak is a paradise. We know that no matter how big the crowds which gather around the politicians here, nothing untoward will happen during nomination day or polling day or any rally. However loud they shout or chant or boo, these supporters from opposite camps will later be seen sitting at the same table at the same coffeeshop, sharing a meal together, laughing away heartily.

This is Sarawak and this happens both in urban and rural areas. We cannot stop time and stop the inevitable development of politics but we must continue to keep the communal spirit alive, because that is part of our Sarawakian identity.

In every general election, state election and by-election here, the state Commissioner of Police has year after year made the statement that there is no untoward incident reported. Let us keep it that way.

It is hoped that for this general election, there will be no mudslinging, no vote-buying, no name-calling where candidates who win, win honourably and those who lose, lose in a noble manner! — DayakDaily