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.

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