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Even though official results are not in yet, early indicators are suggesting that a major shakeup is taking place in the state and national political scene. As one prominent political analyst told a national news portal, Sarawak cannot be considered Barisan Nasional’s (BN) fixed deposit anymore.
For state BN facing its biggest political setback in recent history, a post-mortem must be held immediately as to figure out where it fell short and what must to done to stanch the loss of support before it becomes an unstoppable river.
Complacency of BN candidates.
The evidence is plastered all over social media. People only tend to see their representatives when elections are near. Land titles are issued only during this period, and millions of ringgit in projects announced one after another. For the voters, the government is insulting their intelligence and testing their patience. The candidates should be taught a lesson that these representatives are voted in to do their jobs, and do their jobs, they must!
Announcement of projects during election backfired
The areas affected are mostly located closer to town, where residents tend to be more educated and socially aware. They have learnt that the money used by the government for development in their areas are actually taxpayers’ money. Most of the complaints are that development has not been carried out effectively — pipes without treated water, houses without electricity, hostels without proper mattresses. But the government still kept on announcing project after project, while seemingly deaf to complaints of shoddy work on ongoing or supposedly completed ones.
Voting in defiance
When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that polling day will be on a Wednesday, most of the people were not happy. They felt that their rights as voters have suffered. Last night, Najib announced that if Barisan Nasional wins the general election, the government will declare two days of holiday for next Monday and Tuesday. To the voters, if the government is willing to declare two days as holidays, why didn’t the government just declare working days on either side of polling day as public holidays to enable voters to go back and vote. The more the government is seen trying to deny the rakyat from exercising their votes, the more the people want to punish the government for the perceived unfair behaviour. This unhappiness is not confined to Sarawak alone but is a nation-wide sentiment.
The Adenan Factor is gone
Let’s face it. The Adenan factor is gone. Let the deceased rest in peace for once. SUPP and Abang Jo have been seen to be riding on the Adenan factor. While it is good to ride on Tok Nan’s popularity, they have tried to ride on it once too often. Based on public sentiment as reflected on social media, they cannot help but start comparing Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s policies with those implemented by the present Chief Minister. No matter what the present CM does, including emphasising on continuing Adenan’s legacy, he is still putting himself in the position to be compared to the late Tok Nan, which is not a good move.
Campaigning without thinking
No one can deny the overwhelming size of the BN machinery, but its muscles are no longer lean and mean, and neither are its parts well oiled and functioning flawlessly. This was demonstrated in Bandar Kuching, one of the heartlands of urban Chinese voters in the state, at the Padungan roundabout where DAP and SUPP faced off in a poster war. DAP put up their flags and banners more prominently and higher than SUPP’s, facing their billboards directly at incoming traffic. It was obvious the placement details were considered and well thought out by DAP. On the other hand, SUPP spent a lot of money on campaign materials such as car stickers but failed to position their billboards well to gain maximum exposure from incoming traffic, even though they got a spot at the most prominent roundabout in the heart of Kuching.
Disconnect with urban voters.
Announcements made by the present state government regarding the digital economy, although good in the long run, just does not ‘jive’ with most laypeople. Average people on the ground just does not understand what the digital economy is. It does not touch them and their lives go on unaffected as any other day before the announcement. Actually, it is not surprising as even some state assemblymen have indicated that they do not understand what big data is, and have no idea what the digital economy is.
Unhappiness of sub-urban voters
While urban Sarawakians are largely unaffected by the digital economy, the announcement of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project also did little to make sub-urban voters happy. To them, who stay so close to the heart of Kuching just some 15 miles away, the present government is urban-centric and has sidelined their development. The shortage of funds which has always been quoted as a reason for lack of implementation of infrastructure no longer makes any sense and is seen as a flawed excuse. According to them, if the government can implement LRT, then the government should have the money to implement basic utilities in areas as close as Puncak Borneo!
Santubong MP’s statement did not help
Most people will agree that the way Sarawakian voters vote in the parliamentary election and state election is different. Historically, Sarawakians tend to vote opposition during Parliamentary elections as they need voices to protect Sarawakian rights in Parliament. The coffee shop talk in Kuching was that BN cannot be relied on to ‘speak up’ for Sarawak. They cite the statement made by Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on June 14, 2017 as the classic example of why Sarawak BN will NEVER speak up on behalf of Sarawakians’ rights in Parliament, no matter how detrimental the policy is to Sarawak. Wan Junaidi had said Sarawak MPs have to support government bills in the spirit of collective responsibility practised in Commonwealth countries, in response to questions on why Sarawak MPs couldn’t say no to the Tourism Tax Bill.
Government taking its sweet time to resolve NCR issues
One of the reasons why the opposition could build rapport with the grassroot voters is all thanks to loopholes created by the present state BN Government. While BN knows land issues have always been close to the hearts of the Dayak, the government is taking its sweet time in solving the long outstanding issues of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’. On social media, questions about why BN seems to inexplicably and stubbornly refuse to settle these issues have been resurfacing and lingering in the many weeks leading up to the general election. The result this time seems to indicate that BN representatives need to re-pioritise and pay more attention to issues that matter to the rakyat.
The trickle-down effect is not being felt by the rakyat. The government may have good policies, but implementation is lacking and the politicians get the brunt. The government needs to buck up, or else another rakyat tsunami might just happen in the coming state election. — DayakDaily