Isnin, 28 Mac 2011

Interesting Facts about the 10th Sarawak State Election

By Stanley Bye Kadam Kiai
As I have predicted – and without trying to reiterate – the state is going to the polls on April 16, twenty-six days after the State Assembly was dissolved on March 21.
The dissolution of the State Assembly which paths the way for the state’s 10th general election took place exactly two months before the electoral mandate of the current government ends on May 20. By calling for the election now, the state government has shown that it is responsible enough to know that the interests of the people take precedence over the interests of the politicians as the laws still allow the government to continue administering the state until September 2011.
A responsible government in a democratic system should go back to the electorates accordingly and not trying to continue to govern and justify it by applying the principles of law.

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt wanted to continue to govern until September 2011 where he said he would call for an election after the revolution started against his regime in January. Mubarak tried to go against the will of the people and we all knew what happened to him.
The dissolution of the Sarawak State Assembly on March 21 is exactly 60 days before the government’s electoral mandate ends on May 20. According to the laws of the country, an election must be called within 60 days after the legislature is dissolved, which means that polling for this state election could still fall on May 20, the same day of polling for the last state election.
The dissolution of the Sarawak State Assembly on March 21 is also exactly 5 days before March 26, the day Pehin Sri Taib became the State Chief Minister thirty years ago. Number five denotes the fifth month of the year. The Chief Minister was born in the fifth month and 21 is his birthday.
Another interesting fact about this state election is that April 16 is exactly 26 days after the dissolution of the Sarawak State Assembly. Twenty-six is the age the Chief Minister first entered politics forty-eight years ago.
If we combine 16 (polling day) and 21 (CM’s birthday) together, we will get 37, which is the year (1937) the Chief Minister was born.
This state election is the 10th state election for Sarawak. Number 10 represents the number of days for campaigning. Sixteen (polling day) minus 5 (nomination day) equals to 10.
Number 10 also represents the number of years left before the year 2020 arrives, which is the year Malaysia is supposed to achieve a developed nation status. Ten is also the number of the members of the state cabinet.
Another interesting fact about this forthcoming state election is that both the Prime Minister and his deputy were present when the Chief Minister announced the dissolution of the State Assembly on March 19.
This is quite unprecedented in style and nature, not only in Malaysia but also in any federal system in the world that practices parliamentary democracy such as Canada, India and Australia. Even when the Prime Minister and the State Chief Minister or the State Premier (as the Chief Minister is referred to in some country) are from the same party, the Prime Minister would still leave state affairs to the State Chief Executive, as the state is not exactly the same as the federation.
This state election is going to be unlike other previous state elections where the state BN won the elections basically without any problem at all. In fact, elections in Sarawak have been perceived as a process which is used to endorse the BN candidates. This time around there is going to be some interesting tussle between the BN and the Opposition in some constituencies.
Even after the setback in the 2006 election, where it lost 9 seats (6 to DAP, and 1 each to PKR, SNAP and Independent), the BN was still confident that the vast majority of the people in Sarawak, particularly those who live in the urban areas are still with it. The political tsunami that engulfed the country in the 2008 national election thwarted in some respects the development of that positive thinking.
In the 2008 National Election, the state BN also failed to recapture the Bandar Kuching Parliamentary seat from the DAP. The BN also failed to retain the Sibu Parliamentary seat that it had won for five straight terms in the by-election which was held in April last year.
The issues that were raised by the opposition parties in the 2008 national election had led to the BN to lose five states as well as its two-thirds majority in the national legislature. The BN (formerly known as the Alliance) also lost its two-thirds majority in the 1969 general election but this was soon rectified when three opposition parties joined it in 1970 and 1971.
The opposition is a little bit in disarray at the moment as it tries to find the right formula to divide the 71 constituencies among its component members.
But this won’t stop them from raising the issues that they raised in the 2008 national election. Issues like corruption, good governance, accountability, nepotism and cronyism are not going to disappear just like that. The opposition is going to drum these issues into the mind of the people to refresh their memory about them.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances happening, this forthcoming state election will be the second last state election before the nation becomes a developed country in the year 2020. The state government hopes development initiatives such as SCORE will help Sarawak to be a part of that dream.
A developed nation is a modern nation. By the year 2020, Sarawak will be celebrating its 57 years of independence within Malaysia, and by that time every section of its society should already have been transformed structurally, economically and socially.
As he already hinted – and unless he changes his mind – this forthcoming state election is going to be the last one for the Chief Minister. This state election also is likely to be the last one for many BN incumbents, who are already in the twilight of their career. They will be 5 years older when the next state election is held in 2016 and 10 years older when Malaysia becomes a developed nation in 2020. Age is catching up on most of them.
The composition of the state cabinet after this election is likely to be same as the one before the dissolution of the State Assembly on March 21. However, the composition of the state cabinet after Pehin Sri Taib steps down as the Chief Minister after the polls could be different and it would be interesting to see if any newly elected state assemblyman can make the grade and become a cabinet minister right away.

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