KUCHING, May 9: Despite a very tough campaign, non-stop broadcasting of campaign videos over social media and a very impressive manifesto for Stampin constituents, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian was unable to wrest back the seat for Barisan Nasional (BN).
He performed miserably with only 18,839 votes, while his rival Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Chong Chieng Jen garnered 33,060 votes, in an unexpected majority of some 14,000 votes.
Last night, the grand finale and final SUPP ceramah at Batu Kawah new township, which was also attended by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, had attracted thousands of people, probably the most packed gathering of their nightly ‘ceramah’ this campaign.
It was a huge improvement compared to SUPP’s ‘ceramah’ in the past, in terms of delivery style, content, how they answered their opponents and the flamboyant campaign truck which also served as a mobile stage, with a clear ‘Stronger Sarawak’ message which resulted in significant increase of crowd size turnout.
However, the physical turnout was probably not even half compared to the crowd attending the Democratic Action Party (DAP) ‘ceramah’ on election eve which flooded the entire BDC area, not unlike a concert with musical performances, singing and entertaining speeches which also drew a sizeable audience on Facebook Live.
The key local issues championed by both political parties are Sarawak’s autonomy rights, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and oil royalties which were mentioned and reported by major local dailies almost everyday with different arguments by both sides.
SUPP pledged a stronger voice and a stronger Sarawak, in order to negotiate with Putrajaya to get back Sarawak’s rights. This resonated well among many Sarawakians until DAP pointed out that Sarawak BN was already strong and it was the Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud who was the then Federal Minister who tabled the Petroleum Development Act 1974.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) had pledged to give 20 per cent oil royalty to the state while SUPP said the state should get 100 per cent, with many explanations and calculations from both sides which were scoffed at by oil and gas experts on social media.
The main national issues are GST and corruption and PH pledged to abolish GST within 100 days once they take over Putrajaya, as well as highlighted the corruption scandals plaguing BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, a hot issue SUPP tried to distance itself from.
Apparently, Dr Sim’s endless reiteration in his nightly ‘ceramah’ that “killing the chicken” (in Mandarin, which means killing Najib”) will do no good and did not concern Sarawakians, turned out to matter most to Stampin voters.
The Stampin battle is not only about the popular hardworking Dr Sim or the outspoken state Opposition leader and DAP chairman Chong. It is also not about SUPP as the oldest political party in the state, or the biggest opposition party which is acting as check and balance on the government of the day.
The results in Stampin clearly show that national issues, rising cost of living worsened by the unpopular GST, corruption and 1MBD issues are on the minds of every Sarawakian and Malaysian. — DayakDaily