Today marks the fifth day of the Sarawak election campaign, with another five more days to go before polling takes place on 16th April 2011. Over the past four days of campaigning, the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat were received with enthusiasm and unprecedented crowds. From Sibu to Sarikei, the tremendous groundswell of support has demonstrated the most encouraging indications as yet.
But now, this state election campaign has entered an entirely different phase with Prime Minister Najib Razak taking over the reins from Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. With Najib joining the fray, this now morphs into an election of national proportions – with the entire Federal Cabinet and government machinery at Barisan Nasional’s disposal.
While such a move shows that Barisan Nasional was caught off-guard by the surge of support for Pakatan Rakyat’s battle for change in the first four days of the campaign, the entry of Najib and the national Barisan Nasional campaign apparatus threatens to end the would-be Sarawak spring prematurely.
Despite a discernable swing among urban voters from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan Rakyat, there are just too few purely urban seats where voters are better educated and exposed to begin with.
Most of the seats in Sarawak are rural in setting which makes them more
susceptible to money politics, threats, and intimidation. Even seats which seem urban at first blush to most observers are in actual fact semi-rural. For instance, four out of six seats contested by DAP in the central zone are semi-rural.
On a playing field already far from level, the entry of Najib’s juggernaut threatens to eat away whatever gains the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat have obtained in those areas over the past four days and thus deny the people of Sarawak and Malaysia an opportunity for change. We must not allow this to happen. The people of Sarawak have endured far too much suffering, have been denied too many opportunities to allow this golden ticket to slip away.
Therefore, we urge all Sarawakians and Malaysians to join us on this audacious quest for justice, democracy and dignity. It is imperative for the momentum to build, for the quest not to be derailed. This is the last chance for the people of Sarawak to effect real change through the ballot boxes. The time is now ripe for the results of the election on 16th April will have major national ramifications in the destiny of our nation.
The DAP and Pakatan Rakyat cannot fight the Najib machinery alone. We need the people of Sarawak to stand up and throw their weight behind this election. For every Iban, Melanau, Orang Ulu, Dayak, Chinese and Indian to make his voice heard, to let his vote count. The time has come for freedom to ring from Miri to Kuching. The hour is nigh for the weak to rise up and for the oppressed to be set free. Let this be known as an election between the people and Barisan Nasional. Let it be known that in the end, the people will prevail. Ubah!