18 May 2016 | New Straits Time
Barisan Nasional has retained its hold in Sarawak by winning 72 of the 82 seats. Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, led by Tan Sri Adenan Satem, won all 40 seats it contested, and so did Parti Rakyat Sarawak in the 11 seats it contested.
Together, BN now holds 87 per cent of state seats, a clear landslide victory. For the opposition, DAP performed the best by winning seven of the 31 seats it contested. PKR won only three of the 41 it contested, while Pas, Parti Amanah Negara and independent candidates lost their deposits.
The true colours of the opposition were revealed after BN claimed a huge majority. Without shame, many DAP supporters turned to criticising Sarawakians for their choice. Facebook user Ahlek Chow, for instance, urged DAP not to help Sarawakians any more and said “if they want to have mud road and bamboo bridge, let them be”.
Another, Biz Yap, proposed: “We should not hire anyone from Sarawak for a job in peninsula any more because The Sarawakian only thinking of Sarawak not whole Malaysia.” Perhaps, in a hidden tone, Tony Pua made a similar remark on the scorching defeat:
“They (Sarawak voters) were more than happy to overlook the continued corruption in the BN regime and the implications on the people via higher taxes. The rampant and blatant abuse of power by Adenan... also didn’t matter too much to them.”
Normally, I would be outraged that a politician would blame the voters for a loss, but in this case, it’s just sad. For some reason, Pua thinks his social media sympathisers can forget the flagrant bickering between PKR and DAP that caused the opposition’s painful defeat.
On a deeper level, what is evident is that Pua and his supporters speak from a cave of ignorance. Ignorance of the reality that Sarawak is not a “jungle state”, that Sarawakians are not “uneducated rural folk”.
Although DAP and its supporters talk of transparency and freedom of speech, these are curtains covering the true racism that is the base of DAP’s support, a discrimination without reason, one that sees wrong in everything the government and BN do.
Quite evidently, the opposition seems enveloped in this sort of colonial thinking, one that implies it is more civilised than Sarawakians. If anything, they have a clearer logic and way of thinking than many of us in the peninsula. Voting is an individual decision.
Amid all the complaints, stuffed rhinos and empty rally cries, ultimately, it’s just you and the ballot box. What it boils down to is simple reasoning, a logic that makes it easy to see how BN proved the most legitimate stakeholder in providing Sarawak’s further development.
With BN, it was, and is, always a partnership, a team effort to see the best for Sarawak. Unlike the opposition, we never felt ourselves as pilgrims arriving from a distant land to save the state. We can talk of soft ideas and high-end promises, but in the end, it’s the roads that need to be built and infrastructure that needs to be focused on, and BN championed these.
Previously, I had accused the opposition of being a coalition built on short-term needs, that it is just a pack that agrees to reach Point A.
Once, and if, it reaches that point, there’s no certainty that it will stick together. What we saw in Sarawak was a clear sign of this; the opposition’s ego and personal needs got in the way of providing for Sarawak. It failed to realise what was more important for the country.
Moving forward, what, perhaps, is most dangerous is the opposition’s refusal to grant victors their right legitimacy. When you honestly believe and assert that you had been unfairly deprived of a win, the election ceases to become a fixer of issues, but rather, a platform for greater dishonesty.
The opposition can romanticise all it likes about licking its wounds and complain about having fewer opportunities, but the more it ignores its failures and blames others for its defeat, the weaker our democracy.
We’ll become a country fixed on blind tribalism, where debate and reason meet no outcome. If we don’t retire grievances, then progress has no chance. If we accuse everything of being rigged, then all points, even the absurd, become fair.