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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Why Sarawak gave BN an overwhelming victory

KUCHING - Tan Sri Adenan Satem and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) landslide victory in the 11th Sarawak state election was not unexpected, given the months of preparation.

It is also not even a surprise that the ruling coalition took 72 out of 82 state assembly seats, two more than the prediction by the chief minister last week.

His appeal, “Give me five more years, so that I can do more for Sarawak”, has found ready listeners and the huge mandate is exactly what they gave him.

Since becoming chief minister in February 2014, Adenan did what no predecessor has done, starting with taking an oath before the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) pledging never to award government contracts and allocate state land to his immediate family members.

In the process, he steered away from the administration of his predecessor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud who was accused of corruption and abusing his power to enrich family members and crony companies throughout his over 30 years in power.

Altogether, Adenan introduced 53 measures and policies over the last two years, including recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate from Chinese Independent Schools and allocations for Chinese education.

It was these that boosted his popularity among the Sarawakians, including the Chinese community.

A big loser in the election is DAP, which lost Batu Kawah, Piasau, Dudong, Repok and Meradong to the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), but retained Kota Sentosa, Pending, Padungan, Pelawan, Bukit Assek, Tanjung Batu and Pujut, with reduced majorities.

The biggest casualty is the defeat of DAP’s state committee secretary Alan Ling — who, in the 2011 state election, ousted former SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam — to SUPP secretary general Datuk Sebastian Ting.

Ting wrested back Piasau from Ling with a majority of 2,112 votes. In 2011, Ling became a giant killer when he defeated Dr Chan, the then-deputy chief minister, by 1,900 votes.

The party’s rural drive of the construction of some village roads and mini-hydros was ineffective in securing the support of the Dayak community in the election. With the exception of Mambong, Bukit Semuja and Tasik Biru, the party did poorly in 11 other Dayak seats.

Among the casualties were DAP’s Dayak leader in Mulu, Paul Raja, who only managed to obtain 309 votes and lost his deposit by failing to secure one-eighth of the total votes cast.

DAP’s Pakatan Harapan allies PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) did not fare well either.

PKR, fielding 40 candidates, hung onto its three seats of Batu Lintang, Krian and Ba’Kelalan, but lost heavily in most of the seats.

Newcomer Amanah not only lost in 11 seats contested, its candidates also lost their election deposits.

PAS, State Reform Party (STAR) and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) also suffered the same fate at the hands of BN. None of them won any seats.

The election results showed that the use of issues related to the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and 1Malaysia Development Berhad by the opposition in their campaign did not shake the broad-based support of BN, especially in the rural areas.

Raising these issues may find ready listeners in the urban areas, but they certainly do not carry much weight with rural folk. That is why most of the urban seats were still won by the opposition parties.

With the exception of Krian and Ba’Kelalan, which were both won by PKR, such issues have little impact on rural communities, accounting for BN’s decisive win.

In parts, the opposition parties have only themselves to blame for their inability to reach an electoral understanding before polling day yesterday. PKR and DAP openly squabbled over seats allocations that they were unable to sort out right to the very end.

As a result, the voters punished them, accordingly.

By Sulok Tawie

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