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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Post Sarawak Elections




I have been grappling with this issue; How to explain the different treatment by Sarawakians given to BN and opposition parties in the recent Sarawak state elections? They claimed they have a general distrust toward Malayan politicians who come over by belon. (Aeroplanes).

If there is a general mistrust, then they would have rejected Najib and his government. That principle would have been applied evenly. Instead Najib and his 'gang' were received gladly by the Sarawakians while others were not.

And the Najib camp has quickly claimed equal credit in the victory scored by team Adenan. Some have even claimed the victory as an expression of a mandate from the people to endorse Najib further. To the Sarawakians, such a claim, reinforces their view of Malayan condescension on them. Its the proverbial case of the milk belongs to the cow, but the butter gets the fame.

No one from the Najib camp will see that it was actually a Pyrrhic victory. The giant python swallowed the crocodile, i.e. scored a victory, but later bursts its stomach because the croc is too massive. Or the python swallowed a porcupine whole, later died because the thorns of the porcupine pierced its stomach.  

The Sarawakians showed the whole world, it is they who determined their own future. Not anyone else. They know what many people may refuse to acknowledge, Najib needs Sarawak more than Sarawak needs Najib. So they will push their weight around knowing full well, it is Najib who needs to be pliant and accomodative.

Practical considerations and common sense dictated the behaviour of Sarawak voters. The Sarawakians know the federal government has the capacity to give. They can give many things. They can promise a lot even as the treasury is drying up. Fishermen in the East Coast of Malaya are terrorised by armed intruders from as far as Vietnam or Thailand, the marine department cannot respond because they have no allocations to do so. They don’t have money to pay for the fuel and other costs.

But in Sarawak, the federal government is behaving like the sky is the limit. Ask and thou shall receive.

The rural Sarawakians want outboard motors, water tanks, plenty of tuak, zinc roofs. Simple things which are relatively inexpensive but when multiplied by hundreds of thousands, cost millions.  They want roads- good roads, better access, bridges, communications, social amenities and so forth.  Water supply and electricity. The Najib government can give. It has capacity.

The Chinese community- relatively richer has capacity to choose. They can exercise better democracy which arises from the freedom of choice. So they can chose between business interests and retaining their freedom not to be tied up to some silly ideological impulses. They decide when to get fulfillment of business needs and when to partake in ideological stuff like 1Malaysia, Malaysian Malaysia, democracy, rule of law etc. Those things can be postponed till later.

So does this mean the general distrust of Malayan politicians and their politics has been neutered?

My thinking is, that general distrust on Malayan politics and politicians is still the undercurrent- but practical reasons dictated the action by Sarawakians. No blue blooded Sarawakian can reject the appeal of Sarawak for Sarawakians. They have chosen to milk the cow.

They needed the funds and promises by the federal government. In fact, they feel they are entitled to them. The opposition can’t give them that. Najib knows the reception given to federal government was dictated by practical considerations. Najib ought to know, that their support does not mean affinity or embrace of BN ideology. It’s just taking care of business.

That is why, the victory did not give much comfort to Najib and the BN victory in Sarawak was not hailed as a great victory by UMNO people in Malaya. Only the usual suspects did that.



Najib is also not a Sarawakian and if the Sarawakians for instance are indifferent to an issue like 1MDB, that means, the 1MDB scandal is not washed away by the Sarawak BN victory. When Najib came over to Sarawak, the Sarawakians were asking- what’s in for us? When Najib goes back, they say, 1MDB is your business, we got most of what we wanted.

Najib is still saddled by the 1MDB issue and God knows how much donation went into Najib's account issue. More importantly, the Sarawakians will not give a rat's ass of an interest to what will happen to Najib in Malaya.

Many people say that the biggest loser was DAP. It got 5 seats less than its previous record in 2011. This observation is not entirely correct. It still has 7 seats. So, it has not been totally wiped off.

DAP is now one of at least 3 Chinese-centric parties in Sarawak from which Sarawakian Chinese can choose. They now have DAP, SUPP and UPP.

The more important issue to be in this election is, why did the DAP lose in Chinese majority wards? The Chinese has always been the vote bank for the DAP. We can understand why DAP lost in rural areas but in urban areas, we assumed voters would support DAP.



We know the problems in rural areas, DAP faced greater challenges. The rural folks want and are indeed in need of immediate gratification. They want tuak, water tanks, roads, replacement of roofs, outboard engines. In some rural constituencies, DAP even faced acts of threats and intimidation by thuggish elements.

But why did the DAP lose in Chinese majority areas? Is the DAP found wanting in some departments? Or was the Chinese community behaving practical and pragmatic?

As a Malay and a Muslim  in DAP who observed the Sarawak elections directly, I don’t think the Chinese in Sarawak have abandoned DAP because,  I am saying again and again, if these criteria were at play evenly, Najib and his gang would have also been booted out.

Nor can we explain it away by attributing to the arrogance, the high-mindedness, on the part of the DAP.  

Let us instead looked at lower-level reasons. The Sarawakians and the Sarawakian Chinese were just looking out for their interests- their future the children's future, the interests of communities, clans, kin etc.

All the Chinese did was to look out for their interest first and actually there isn’t any contradiction in their behaviour. Indeed it was directed and dictated by a singular interest- that of self-preservation. The want Najib to pay for the Malayan indifference to Sarawak. To revert to pure Chinese-ness, they will go back and support DAP; to further and protect business interests, they support Adenan through SUPP and UPP.  Because they are generally richer, Sarawakian Chinese are able to exercise this duality in their political personae. The present surge of support of PBB Chinese allies is given temporarily; DAP will always remain as their insurance.

The Chinese have not abandoned the DAP. The seats that DAP lost are merely on loan to the other Chinese centric parties for as long as Adenan Satem plays the game smartly. The Sarawakian Chinese are just playing along.

Adenan Satem has been the division head of his party for 10 terms! He has shown himself to be a smart operator. He has taken a little bit of the thunder away from DAP by adopting a liberalist approach. He has supported the causes fought mainly by DAP. The Chinese who supported parties allied to PBB and Adenan are playing along the game that Adenan started.

Readers may read my observations however way they want. They are even free to interpret it (my observation) as implying that Sarawakian Chinese are insincere. I only assert that the Chinese have chosen to be practical and pragmatic. They will come back to DAP as soon as Adenan Satem and his gang re-assert their PBB ketuanan or when Adenan Satem is replaced by someone less astute. The Sarawakian Chinese are placing their bets smartly. Their Chinese-ness will be looked after by the DAP, practical and business interests by other parties.

People seem to be talking as though it was the death of DAP. And generally, people attribute it to its arrogance, condescension and behaving somewhat conducting themselves like colonialists.

Let’s not turn and treat the results into a triumphant Tarzan-esque cry over a dead gorilla body and proclaim, we don’t want to be treated condescendingly by Malayans. No one has the intention to do so. We accept the choice the Sarawakians made. As regards the Chinese who have provided the main support to DAP, they are playing a smart game. They are spreading the bets wisely.

As far as relations with the Federal government is concerned, Sarawakians have demonstrated they understand and want decentralization of power. We cannot argue with the logic that locals know better the issues than the Malayans. We ought to know, locals have different priorities. If the elections is a means to get the amenities that have been denied to them for so long, Sarawakians will vote with their pockets, stomach and body. RM100 is a big amount to people accustomed able only to earn that amount in a month. Having food on the table is important to those who cannot afford them. Water, electricity and other creature comforts are needed by the body. To some Sarawakians, the people who can provide these, in the form of wakil rakyats are demigods who cannot be challenged and to whom loyalty is owed to.

Sarawakians are treating these day to day issues as more important than the issues we think are important.  In the end, it’s their own free choice.  And the overriding message in the recent Sarawak elections, they want to do it their way. It involves also, preventing others especially Malayans from dictating terms. Unfortunately, that message was applied more forcefully on the opposition simply because, it was the more practical thing to do.

They have demonstrated that to DAP. Perhaps Sarawakian DAP supporters don’t want to be dictated by DAP centralists. But here is the thing. If that sentiment applies to DAP, it also applies to Najib. Najib and his gang observed first hand, the desire by the Sarawakians to free themselves from control by centralists.

I don’t think, the significance is lost on Najib and his gang. The euphoria over the victory in Sarawak did not last long. It still does not free Najib from his other worries. His victory is generally ignored by the UMNO people. Because they also know what Najib has already known- the Sarawakians who voted for the pro-BN ruling parties in Sarawak did so out of practical and business considerations and not out of love and affection or allegiance to higher principles.

In fact I think after this, Najib will get more worried. PBB can earn the trust of Sarawakian Chinese while UMNO in Malaya, failed in that aspect. And Najib knows, he can’t change the leopard sports of UMNO. In some ways he may even be envious with Adenan Satem. Adenan Satem doesn't have to play the race card, does not have to project a holier than thou image or have to support religion bashing and so on.

Most importantly, Najib does not relish the idea that the Sarawakians can squeeze his balls.



8 comments:

Anonymous,  17 May 2016 at 11:28  

Salam,

Kamek anak Sarawak. Kamek sik sokong UMNO bawah pimpinan Pak Najib. Kamek tauk betapa
banyak lagik keperluan untuk Sarawak yang seharusnya UMNO tauk.

Tapi kamek sik heran BN menang besar di Sarawak. Ada bagusnya untuk anak Sarawak.

Harap Pak Najib pegang Janji di tepati. Kamek nanggar juak samada wakil rakyat BN megang janji. Kamek ingin juak nanggar wakil rakyat DAP/PKR teruskan usaha murni turun padang bergaul dengan rakyat. Walau Parti Amanah, mesti juak turun jumpa rakyat.

Kamek anak Sarawak mauk juak Selamatkan Malaysia dan di reformasikan sistem pentadbiran negara agar di hapuskan para-para lanun,perompak sik kira siapa BNkah, PRkah.

Kamek anak Sarawak mauk Malaysia sebuah negara yang Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah, Cemerlang Gemilang dan Terbilang. Malaysia boleh ... hapuskan lanun-perompak elit.

Anonymous,  17 May 2016 at 11:35  

Dato, DAP tried to get out of the racial centric politics, yet time and time again, it gets drag back into it. One example is this very article which pins Sarawak Chinese to DAP.

When are you guys going to walk the talk?

We are sick of UMNO racial supremacist centric politics and want change.

Sarawak boy 17 May 2016 at 17:59  

Coming from a Sarawakian, i think you are spot on Datuk. We are just being practical.No need to read so deep into our choices.As an equal partner to Malaysia, we cant be expected to be treated like one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

Anonymous,  17 May 2016 at 18:37  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_HONlVIN_c

Ali 17 May 2016 at 19:23  

Sarawakian are not advance to care what najib does to the country. Stealing money probably is OK there..what a pity.

Anonymous,  18 May 2016 at 09:07  

Dato, as a Sarawakian I totally agree with you on your analysis. Sarawakians are very practical people. We know that this state election will not make much difference to our lives. Had the opposition won, funds from the federal government would be stopped. And Adenan was smart enough to copy what the opposition has been promising if they became the government by recognising Chinese education. Sarawakians would most likely keep the BN state government until there is a likely change in the federal government. The other negative factor is that this time, the opposition also have themselves to blame for not staying united. Because of that, no issues of substantive importance to Sarawakians were even presented to voters as the opposition parties were too self-centric and hogged their own issues which didn't quite jell with them. And it's not the Chinese but the Dayaks who voted overwhelmingly for the BN.

Anonymous,  18 May 2016 at 12:20  

DAP lost a couple of Chinese urban seats

Well Adnan did make some juicy overtures to the Chinese. Maybe the Sarawakian Chinese will emulate what the Peninsular Chinese did decades ago. Vote BN for the state government and opposition for the parliament seats.

Mali Muyung 19 May 2016 at 06:36  

Bro, it was mentioned that ond of the reasons why DAP lost because of poor services rendered.
The infighting with PKR also opened the eyes of the Swakians that PH is no better than BN.
So why rock the boat?

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