Monday, April 25, 2011

Lessons from the tenth Sarawak Elections

The election that no party lost

The much awaited tenth Sarawak State elections are now over and the Barisan Nasional(BN),as expected, has retained its rule with its two-thirds majority. However its popular support has dropped slightly and the opposition, Pakatan Rakyat(PR), seems to have gained foot in the state which use to be described as the ‘fixed deposit’ for BN.As such it is an election which both parties had won in some way or another but a win which neither parties are really satisfied with.

However it was the strong showing of the opposition during the campaign period that managed to get a number of intended results. The announcement by Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud the Chief Minister to step down during mid-term, the liberalization of the printing of bibles, the announcement by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that he will keep all his promises and his admission that it is not going to be easy to win elections like before are testimony that the leaders are becoming more realistic and beginning to appreciate the people’s maturity. All these materialized due to the strong opposition presence.

The important point for the BN to take home from this election is their loss of popular support and the general unhappiness of the people to their rule of 30 years in Sarawak. The huge crowds at Pakatan ceramah must not be taken lightly as it is an indication of growing displeasure of the people especially in urban areas with what is going in the state, the rampant corruption and abuse of power unable to be checked by a weak opposition. This dissatisfaction will only grow stronger with time due to a more mature populace that is internet savvy.

The whole might of the BN and government machinery had to be brought in during the dying hours of the campaign to fight the winds of change that was poised to hit the land of the Hornbill. The PM himself admitted it was the toughest election ever. The leaders of BN must admit the winds of change were only successfully thwarted with money politics, the misuse of government machinery and the media and the unfair restraints thrust on the opposition. It is a common knowledge among the people that large amounts of money were given out to woo the voters at the eleventh hour.

These unethical practices must be admitted as a fact and the BN must realize that such tactics could have worked now but are not going to do so in the future. If only more of the rural voters follow their fellow Sarawakians in urban areas it would have been a disaster for BN. It must understand that the rural voters are not going to be rural and ignorant all the time even if they are forced to do so in this global world.

Another important fact that was revealed was the strong anti-government sentiments among the Chinese population which dealt a fatal blow to SUPP and there are fears that the party may never recover from this loss. Najib must not heed the calls by certain extremist groups within and outside his own party to neglect the Chinese community as it did not support him in the recent elections. If he does it would amount to punishing the people who voted for the opposition which would make a mockery of democratic elections. Instead it would be wise for Najib to have a heart to heart talk with his Chinese colleagues in the cabinet to find the real reasons for their loss of support and to find positive ways to win them over.

Furthermore it was not the Chinese alone who voted for opposition. The Chinese were part of the urban population that expressed their dissatisfaction for the ruling party which calls for a review of the reasons for the urban swing away from the BN.

The BN must also bear in mind that it is just not the Chinese community but the Iban and other indigenous communities too have become more politically ‘awakened’ as the their votes for Pakatan have also significantly increased. SNAP’s failure to win a single seat whereas PKR has tripled its strength to 3 may be an indication of increasing support of the more elite Ibans and other indigenous groups to Pakatan. The BN must not forget if the Pakatan had a more even playing field, they could have won many more seats.

Now that BN has won the elections it is time for the PM to fulfill all his promises to the people of Sarawak. Development for the people, retirement of Taib Mahmud, the freedom to publish bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, fighting corruption and seizure of ancestral land are some of the issues that must be tackled as promised without delay. Unless these issues are dealt with to the satisfaction of the people, the winds of change will continue to gain greater momentum in the coming years that will see the demise of the BN in Sarawak.

For the PR the election results come as moral booster for the contest in the subsequent federal elections that are to be held soon. The 31 parliamentary seats in the state are now open for grabs unlike before when they were virtually reserved (safe seats) for BN, which now holds 29 of them. Pakatan has made inroads into Sarawak that was never imaginable before and if it plays its cards well the chances of capturing more parliament seats are very bright and if it does that it will enhance its chances of taking over control of the state in the next state elections.

However PR must take note of the fact that the people may be unhappy with the BN but they are not too happy with the opposition either. Penang and Selangor may be doing well under their rule but there is much more to be done. What about the other states under their rule, Kedah and Kelantan and Perak before? The people are yet to be convinced of PR’s capability to rule the nation if given the mandate taking into consideration its internal squabbles and scandals of its leaders.

Most of PR’s troubles may be due to the making of BN that is bent on overthrowing Pakatan at all costs with the media and institutions over which it has absolute control. However the leaders of Pakatan must leave no stones unturned in their efforts to convince the people of their sincerity in wanting to overcome their disputes amicably so as to be better able to serve the people if and when when asked to do so by them.

The component parties of the PR must put aside their ideological differences and unite for the sake of the people. They must move quickly to formalize the coalition as a single entity, cement the relationship among themselves on all common grounds and agree not to exploit on their differences. They must be united on all major issues confronting the nation – corruption, power abuse and racism. The people now are better informed, more mature and wiser to appreciate the constraints under which the opposition works and all they need is not fantastic results which they know will not be possible with a hostile federal government. All they need is to see the formulation of sound socio-economic policies and give leaders who are committed to implement these policies as best as they can. They want to see leaders who will place the interests of the people above theirs and that of the parties to which they belong.

The BN is harping on change but there is increasing doubts about its ability to bring true reforms even if it wanted to as it does not have the will to do so. More and more people are convinced that it will only change if it is forced to sit in the opposition for a term. Pakatan must take advantage of this situation to gain the maximum support and confidence of the rakyat. The PR has promised many reforms and policies such as the Buku Jinga for the benefit of the people but it must convince the people that it can and will effectively implement them without fear or favor.

The mammoth crowds at Pakatan ceramahs during the recent Sarawak elections are an indication that the people want change and are ready for it. They are convinced that after 5 decades of continuous rule, the BN is incapable of change and is showing the signs of its ‘over-stay syndrome’. It does not appear to be able to check the rampant corruption, blatant abuse of power and openly advocated racism that are threatening the well being of the nation and the people.

The people want an economically stable and peaceful country with leaders with great wisdom, foresight and morally righteous. The people are willing take the calculated risk and vote for change but the PR must convince them of their capability to bring that change not for the benefit of themselves but that of the nation. If they fail to do that the people will have no choice but to rely on the same tested regime of over five decades.


Parents must be loved

Parents must be loved

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Care of elderly parents

Caring for parents, an obligation not an option

I refer to James Gonzales’ letter “Introduce law against parent dumping”(Star ,April 22).I share his concerns and deplore parent dumping, a present day practice of convenience by many children. Introducing laws to ban such practices may reduce the incidences of parent dumping to a certain and it should be considered seriously. However it is not the best solution, as it will not prevent the misery elderly people have to undergo at the twilight of the lives when their children dump them as they are of no use to them anymore. I dread to imagine when we had to resort to legislation to enforce the love for parents by their children.

What is needed is proper education; instilling the sense of respect, gratitude and caring for parents among the children from a very early age in the home, school and religious institutions. They have to be taught that caring for their parents when they are old is their sacred obligation, which they must not shred. This should be done not by just preaching by the living examples of parents, teachers and religious leaders. When the children today are only taught to make money at all costs with little regards for moral values, it would be foolish of us to expect the good values of humanity in them when they grow up.

Malaysians generally still love their parents but regrettably the number of those who don’t is on the rise. With increasing standard of living the life expectancy of the average Malaysian has prolonged. Today our parents are healthier and live longer than before. This has put greater strain on our financial and physical resources to care for their special needs at their advanced age.

Caring for our elderly parents has become a problem these days when both husband and wife have to work to make ends meet. In addition to that we have to provide for the needs of the children which are increasing tremendously over the years.

There is no doubt that we have to give priority to our own spouse and children. At the same time we also have a duty towards our aged parents. Some of them may be healthy while others may suffer from various illnesses or even be bed-ridden.

Very often it is impossible for us to be there physically all the time to care for them especially those who are very old and infirm. We have no choice but to send them to an old folk’s home where their basic needs and nursing care are available. In our culture sending our parents to old folks home is considered a despicable and ungrateful act. Is it really so?

There are 2 main needs of an elderly person, companionship and medical. No single individual or family can provide both of these effectively. On the other hand a properly run old folk’s home, staffed with medical expertise and well trained and caring helpers, may be better poised to provide both these needs reasonably well. Unfortunately such a home is hard to come by and if it does it is often beyond the means of many.

Sending our aged parents to old folks home should not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. Honouring our parents is not just providing food and shelter but being a companion to rid them of the loneliness and fear that grips them in the twilight years of their lives.

Time has also come for the setting up of Day Care centres for the elderly like the nurseries for children. Many elderly men and women could be sent there to keep them occupied with others of their age at the same time reduce the risks of accidents when they left all alone at home. This will not only provide them with good companionship but relief the burden on their working children who can have some peace of mind at their places of work.

Many children tend to overlook the fact that there are many aged parents who are captives in their own homes. There may be many in the family but yet the elderly are left lonely as no one has the time to spare for them.

We tend to forget the days when our parents showered all the love we needed unconditionally. To them then, the love for us made their sacrifice a pleasure not pain whereas for many of us caring for them at their advanced age has become a painful burden, which we hope others will alleviate.

Our treatment of our elderly parents, like our children, must always be guided by our love for them. Laws cab be enforced to force children to keep their elderly parents with them but there is way we can enforce love for them. What is important is for us to ensure that wherever they may be, in our homes or in an old folk’s home, they must always be in our hearts.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roses and thorns

A beautiful story which provide us some food for though

A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully, and before it
blossomed, he examined it. He saw the bud that would soon blossom and also
the thorns. And he thought, "How can any beautiful flower come from a plant
burdened with so many sharp thorns?" Saddened by this thought, he neglected
to water the rose, and before it was ready to bloom, it died.

So it is with many people. Within every soul there is a rose. The God-like
qualities planted in us at birth grow amid the thorns of our faults. Many
of us look at ourselves and see only the thorns, the defects. We despair,
thinking that nothing good can possibly come from us. We neglect to water
the good within us, and eventually it dies. We never realize our potential.

Some people do not see the rose within themselves; someone else must show it
to them.

One of the greatest gifts a person can possess is to be able to reach past
the thorns and find the rose within others. This is the characteristic of
love, to look at a person, and knowing his faults, recognize the nobility in
his soul, and help him realize that he can overcome his faults. If we show
him the rose, he will conquer the thorns.

Our duty in this world is to help others by showing them their roses and not
their thorns. Only then can we achieve the love we should feel for each
other; only then can we bloom in our own garden.

-- Author Unknown

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Food for thought

The problems in the world today are basically due our failing to find the roses in others and and the thorns in us.

Most often we find only the thorns in others and the roses in us that gives rise to the attitude "I am right and you are wrong"

If only we realise that are roses in others and thorns in us - life will be much better for all.

We all have thorns and roses in us,it is up to us to weed out the thorns from the roses in our lives.

Have a pleasant day

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sarawak Elections 2011 – Change or transformation?

Dawn of a new Sarawak for all

Come April 16,2011 our fellow Malaysians in Sarawak will go to the ballots to choose their state government for the next five years. This tenth state election is an important one for both BN and PR as the results may determine their fate at the next general elections predicted to be held soon. It is also of utmost importance to the people of Sarawak as their destiny would be decided on that day.It is also an important election for the rest of us as the results of this election will greatly determine the trend in the whole country in the next general elections.

The exceptionally huge crowds at the ceramah of opposition PR came as a great surprise to all. Even the opposition leaders who were pleasantly surprised were shocked at the huge turn outs. That gave them a great moral booster which was badly needed after successive losses in several by-elections lately.

On the other hand the BN leaders too were taken by surprise that the state which used to be referred as the safe ‘fixed deposit’ for them for over 30 years is suddenly changing. It is evident from the response of the people to the campaign so far that they want change. Large crowds at election ceramah may not be an accurate reflection of wins as many a time such massive response does not necessarily translate into votes.

However it is definitely an indication of the people’s sentiments and their yearning for political change. It is an indication that the people are not happy with incumbent rule and that they want change. It is also an indication that the ruling party has not listened to their plea and has lost touch with the needs of the ordinary man on the street who is struggling to make ends meet.

From the feedback of people on the ground we are clear that the main grouse of the people is with the policies of their Chief Minister of 30 years whom they feel have neglected them and they want him to leave which he bluntly rejects, despite being politely asked to do so by the Prime Minister.

This state election is not about not about the opposition Pakatan Rakyat; what it can do for them or is it about its capability to rule the state effectively. The people know that the PR may not be able to do much without the backing of the Federal Government but they know for certain that it cannot do anything worse than what it is now. To the people this election is about what has been going on for the last 30 years.

The major issues are corruption, unfair land policies, and indiscriminate destruction of natural resources, power abuse and curtailment of religious freedom. This election is a form of referendum on the BN Government of over 3 decades on these issues that the people feel so strongly about.

Distributing handouts in cash and kind just before the election may have worked before but is not going work anymore as the people expect their rights to be granted and respected all through the tenure of the government in power.

The fact the ceramah crowds largely consists of the younger generation is significant.It supports the speculation they have access to wider sources of information than available in the mainstream media which is which subservient to the ruling elite. The younger citizens have lost faith in the mainstream media and the government that have become mere propaganda tools of the ruling party. Truth, which could easily be hidden before are revealed more readily in the new cyber media for which the younger voters have much savvy.

It is undoubtedly because of this IT enlightened younger generation that for the first time in our history that a CM’s overstaying in office and his misdoings have become a pivotal issue in the state election and fortunately it is going to do so in the years to come as illustrated in the ongoing people uprisings in many Arab nations today. It should be lesson for future leaders that they cannot take the people for granted.

We have come to the final hours of the countdown when Sarawakians will have to choose between change advocated by Pakatan and transformation by BN.It is a choice they must make after very careful deliberation. What happens in Sarawak this 16 April will have a tremendous bearing on the destiny of the country as a whole come the 13GE.

Our fellow citizens in Sarawak are given a very vital task to lead the way by doing the right thing this April 16. They must let that day to go down in history as the day when Sarawakians rose above ethnic differences and voted for the dawn of a new Sarawak where all its citizens get to share its wealth equally among them without distinction.

Marking the ‘X’ in their ballot papers may take less than a minute but that solitary minute may well determine the destiny of their state now and the nation later. As we wait anxiously await the actions of fellow citizens in Sarawak, let us pray that the Almighty will guide them to act wisely for the well being of all.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sarawak needs change so does Malaysia

Sarawak needs change desperately, says Anwar

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

Malaysian Insider,April 08, 2011

SEKINCHAN, April 8 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has delivered a damning appraisal of Sarawak under the Taib administration, which he claimed has been left to languish in “appaling” conditions and now in dire need of renewal.

The PKR de facto leader minced no words last night when painting a bleak picture of the current socio-economic conditions of the hornbill state ahead of the Sarawak elections, and fully blamed the poor conditions and lack of infrastructure there on Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“I went to this kampung near Limbang in Sarawak, and what I saw there saddened my heart... the roof of a house burnt for four years and nothing has been done to fix it.

“I am telling them, Umno, Taib... enough of this. The people of Sarawak — the Ibans, Kadazans, Lumbawangs — they are also our people, they are also Malaysians... don’t make them any poorer, please.

“Enough is enough,” said Anwar to an enthusiastic crowd of over 4,000 here, who cheered and clapped along with his speech.

Anwar said it was surprising that Sarawak, with all its natural resources, continued to have constituencies so under-developed and people in such abject poverty.

He laid the blame for these conditions squarely on the doorstep of Taib and the ruling Barisan Nasioal (BN), which he accused of allowing the state’s vast resources to be hogged for the “benefit of the ruling elite.”

“In Sarawak, people are in need of material for houses, wood... this is surprising for a state which produces wood logs and fuel, yet its people are stripped of rights to state resources... this is due to a gutless, cruel leadership,” Anwar said.

While Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have been campaigning hard for the state elections, they remain undecided on a potential leadership line-up should they somehow wrest Sarawak from under BN rule on April 16.

The pact’s leaders maintained that the main aim now was to deny BN a two-thirds majority in the state assembly.

The party bosses said they have not yet determined who among its leaders should sit in the state Cabinet and, most significantly, who might replace Taib as Sarawak chief minister.

Taib, the country’s longest serving chief minister, has ruled over the resource-rich Sarawak for a record 30 years and has been described as Malaysia’s most powerful state leader, with a business empire that spans across at least eight nations.

In the state’s 2006 polls, BN won in 63 seats while DAP secured six and PKR and Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) won one seat each.

“We (PR) promise to help all-Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, Melanaus, regardless of race or religion...look at Umno-BN and how they rob the rights of the Bible to be used in Malay,” said Anwar last night.

“There is no pressure in religion, and we also have to respect the rights of other faiths.”

Of the 979,796 voters in Sarawak, the Chinese make up 31.5 per cent, Ibans 29 per cent, the Malay/Melanau 27.5 per cent, Bidayuh eight per cent, Orang Ulus 3.7 per cent and others 0.26 per cent.

PR is banking heavily on support from the Chinese community as well as the state’s Christians, who make up more than half of the electorate.

Excited chatters and murmurs filled the night air when Anwar addressed the issue of the alleged sex video of himself, which first made headlines when it was released two weeks ago.

The Permatang Pauh MP has consistently denied that the man in the video was him.

Yesterday, Anwar said the attempts by Umno to attack his credibility by linking him with the sex video showed that they were afraid of PR’s chances in Sarawak and wanted to throw a wrench in the works of the federal opposition now focussed on the hornbill state.

“They no longer have anything to argue with, that’s why they are using this sex video.

“Imagine a rapist is preaching about good values,” said Anwar snidely.


As Anwar says, “The people of Sarawak — the Ibans, Kadazans, Lumbawangs — they are also our people, they are
also Malaysians... don’t make them any poorer, please" - DSAI.

Together with the Ibans,kadazans and other East Malaysian communities we,Malays,Chinese and Indians are all Malaysians and must be treated as such.

For over 50 years our plight been ignored and rights systematically eroded.
Malaysia needs change desperately,not just Sarawak.We have the best opportunity to put things right with our vote.
Let us not gamble our future and that of our children for some short term gains.

Sarawakians should lead the way in this quest for change.

Let we alone decide our destiny.

God bless Malaysia

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