What DayakDaily readers say about GPS

Four days since the announcement of its establishment, Gabungan Parti Sarawak remains a hot topic of debate, as can be seen from the hundreds of comments left by readers on the DayakDaily Facebook page.

Commentary

It has been four days since Barisan Nasional (BN) Sarawak was effectively dissolved, giving birth to Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), a coalition consisting solely only of Sarawakian political parties — Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). There were numerous reactions from DayakDaily readers. Some are in favour, while others are against. There also were no less fence-sitters, as well as another group of readers that plainly refused to discuss the matter at hand, instead projecting their anger and demands for justice for Sarawakians.

The common perception Sarawakians have is that GPS will be helmed by the same people, with the same style of management, same capacity, and same capability. One reader said using an analogy, “just because they choose to stay in a garage does not turn them into cars”.

It also didn’t help matters that nothing much was revealed during the press conference led by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announcing the formation of GPS.

Based on the press statement signed by the Chief Minister of Sarawak which has been widely circulated on social media, one reader opined that the formation of GPS appears quite general without much content. This gave readers the impression that the decision was done in haste without positive political direction.

This remark gained much attention as far as DayakDaily’s Facebook comments section is concerned. This criticism was later refuted by Abang Johari as ‘untrue’ as he claimed that the GPS coalition will listen to the aspiration of the rakyat. Nevertheless, many netizens remained skeptical, as can be seen from some of the arguments and comments on DayakDaily’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, some DayakDaily readers accused BN Sarawak of being a ‘traitor’, reflecting the same opinion as that expressed by BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor. While a few readers focused solely on PRS president Tan Sri James Masing of not walking the talk based on his statement that he will “sink or swim with BN” as published by DayakDaily on May 14.

However, there were also other netizens who disagreed and pointed out that Masing’s statement was made in relation to the question of him or his party (PRS) leaving BN and joining PH, and should not be read in isolation.

Some readers said that Sarawak leaders are correct in establishing GPS as an independent autonomous coalition, because all Sarawakians ministers, state assemblymen and parliamentarians derived their political strength from and are appointed to the position they have today owing to the support of Sarawakians voters. The reason why they were voted in by Sarawakaians is for their service to Sarawak and Sarawakians alone, and nothing else.

Hence the decision to focus solely on Sarawak matters is actually deemed as the ‘correct path’. They added that it will enable ‘Sarawak to adapt to the aspirations of Sarawakians and do what they should do instead of being a puppet and just bow down to instructions from Malaya’.

This line of argument was however rebutted by a few readers who suggested that the Sarawak Cabinet should first be reshuffled, as posts deemed significant have only been given to PBB representatives. Other readers questioned the sincerity of the GPS coalition, arguing that the people who were allegedly involved in giving Sarawak’s petroleum rights away are still freely cavorting around, and not taken to task for what they did. To these readers and voters, the present GPS will not be able to convince them of the coalition’s commitment and conviction to serve and protect Sarawak if these alleged traitors are left unpunished.

On a related note, other readers pushed for equality in treatment and questioned why ex-BN supporters who have hopped onto Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s boat are automatically given immunity and assumed as having changed their ways and deemed to be trustworthy while the ones in BN who decided to move on and realign themselves as an independent coalition are not allowed to be given a second chance.

While most readers laid blame on BN, GPS and/or PH, there were some readers who raised an interesting point of view. They opined the demands by some readers asking the present Sarawak government to stop requesting for help from the PH federal government pertaining to the Petronas issue does not make sense. They reasoned that the purpose why the rakyat voted for a new government is so that the new government can deliver what the rakyat thinks the previous BN federal government did not want to commit to, and one of them is to return all of Sarawak’s rights under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) back to Sarawak. The readers questioned the purpose of changing government if the present elected PH leaders refused to act but instead passed the buck back to the opposition, meaning the voters have cast their ballots in vain.

There are also those who took the stand that they do not care who is in power as long as Sarawak can take back its autonomy and no longer be bullied by the Malayans. These group insisted that as long as GPS can be an effective opposition and can carry out their duties to Sarawakians fairly and efficiently, GPS shall get their votes.

This sentiment was reflected in a comment by a reader who claimed that all these politicians are the same and could not be trusted, describing them as snakes who shed their outer layers of skin but still very much retain their snake/anaconda essence.

One particular reader expressed great concern on how GPS would explain to their rural voters who they are. For many years, the ‘dacing’ (scale) symbol has been synonymous with the government and associated with development. The reader wonder how the change in logo will affect the way rural voters vote come the state election which is due to be held by 2021, as rural voters will probably be confused about who the actual government is. This reader who wrote personally to DayakDaily said, “Now that there is a federal government who is ‘government’ and on the other hand, there is GPS who represents the state government and should also be called ‘government’; how are the politicians going to explain to these rural voters?”

Although GPS does not seem to get a pat on the back from every Sarawakian, there are some Sarawakians who are supportive of the idea. However, setting up GPS is just the tip of the iceberg. Getting the finer details tuned is only half the job, as Sarawakians seem to want to feel the positive effect before committing to supporting any political parties lest they are taken for a ride.

Although a task force has been formed to ensure the finer details, aspiration and direction of GPS are in line with what Sarawakians want, with around three years remaining before the next state election, the coalition does not have time on its side.

If the task force for the native customary rights (NCR) land committee is to be used as a benchmark on the kind of speed one can expect from GPS in coming up with something concrete such as various definitions or details of certain matters, then GPS may run out of luck, as time and efficiency might just not be their forte after all. — DayakDaily