Isnin, 4 April 2011

Pakatan gov’t experience to help penetrate rural S’wak

Kuek Ser Kuang Keng

Although the ‘political tsunami’ of the 2008 general election is losing steam in the peninsula as shown by the recent by-elections, it will still be Pakatan’s major weapon in fighting the 10th Sarawak state election on April 16.
The formation of five Pakatan Rakyat state governments after the last general election, will be portrayed by the Sarawak opposition as a strong example of how to convey a simple message to the Sarawak electorate, especially the natives in rural areas, that the BN is unable to equal that governance.
What appears as the most basic political concept to most people – that a political party or coalition needs to secure most of the seats in the legislature assembly to form a government, is apparently beyond the grasp of a majority of the rural native communities, – after 48 years of BN rule.
For them, the BN is the ultimate power able to advance their livelihood, or wield the rod should they revolt.
Therefore, the opposition campaign in the rural areas is nothing more than basic political education, that the people have the right to elect a government of their choice, even if it is not the ‘Dacing’.

NONE“We already have a prototype of government. We have good proof that we can govern better if given the chance,” said Sri Aman branch chief Leon Donald (right), the candidate for Simanggang, a Iban-majority semi-rural seat under the Sri Aman parliamentary constituency.
Signs of tough times ahead

The 37-year-old agricultural consultant, son of former Sri Aman MP Jimmy Donald who had joined the PKR after being dropped as a BN candidate in 2008, is likely to face Supp incumbent Francis Harden Hollis.
Simanggang is one of the two non-Chinese seats contested by the DAP. Although Francis won the seat with a whopping 4,258 majority in the last state polls, Leon claimed that the DAP could give Supp a tough fight to as the BN’s parliamentary majority in this state seat had been chopped down to less than 300 in the last general election.
“Soon after the last general election, people in Sarawak were wondering why this particular change in attitude towards the BN. Now they see the proof of better government, especially in Penang,” said Leon when met at the Sri Aman DAP office on Thursday.
“It gives them hope,” he added.
Campaign material piled up in DAP office include stacks of leaflets printed by the Penang state government to publicise its ‘CAT’ policy (credibility, accountability and transparency).
They were ‘imported’ all the way from Penang to open the eyes of Sarawak voters on how Pakatan would govern if it takes over the state, said Leon.
He also tried to invite the first DAP chief minister Lim Guan Eng to address a ceramah in Simanggang, to let the people here receive first hand information from him.
Basic political education, best offensive weapon
Apart from the DAP, the PKR is also pushing the same message in the Malay and Iban rural areas.
“Our main message is ‘change’. We try to educate the people why they should change and why Sarawak should change, based on the testimony of Pakatan states in the peninsula,” said PKR candidate for Saribas, NONE.Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh
This this Zulkifli’s (left) second attempt to wrest the Malay-majority rural seat from the PBB, after being defeated by latter’s Wahbi Junaidi by a thin-wafer majority of 94 votes in last state election.
Since then the 51-year old government servant-turned-full-time politician has been serving the constituency. It is expected that the BN will announce a ‘winnable’ candidate to replace Wahbi in the coming few days.
Slightly different from the DAP which uses leaflets, PKR will showcase their governing experience and achievements in the peninsula by inviting members of the Pakatan state governments to tour Malay Kampungs and Iban longhouses.
“We need the YBs (representatives) from peninsula to come here and explain to the people, to open their minds,” said Abang Kassim Abang Bujang, PKR election director of Saribas.
Direct from the horses’s mouths more convincing
“They know me. It is less convincing if I tell them about the Pakatan states. But when (opposition leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) or (Selangor Mentri Besar) Khalid (Ibrahim) come and tell them, they will believe,” he added.
Saribas, one of the focus seats of the PKR, will be ‘adopted’ by the party’s national wanita chief and Ampang MP Zuraidah Kamarudin, who has a tight almost every night ceremah schedule.
PKR de facto leader Anwar had landed at Kuching on Wednesday, to start his nine-day non-stop statewide ceramah in all the PKR focused constituencies.
More Pakatan leaders are expected to throng the land of Hornbills in the run up to polling day on April 16.
However Pakatan’s strategy to leverage on their state governments in peninsula may be frustrated by the police, who had denied the PKR permits to hold public ceramah in several areas.
NONEAfter police disrupted his first ceramah in Kuching on Wednesday , Anwar’s second in evening the following day at Satok, a Malay majority seat held by PBB strongman and deputy chief minister Abang Johari Openg, also suffered the same fate.
According to yesterday’s media reports, police only allowed Anwar to address over one thousand kampung folk for 15 minutes on the grounds that no permit was given. The party had applied for it but was rejected by the police.
However ,Anwar, who has been critical of the police force, chose to adopt a non-confrontational approach on Thursday night, asking people not to blame the force as they were just following instructions handed down by higher authorities.
“Actually we should thank the police. They have been taking care of the people. When I was jailed, police also took good care of me. What we should reject are those at the top who give unfair instructions to the police,” said Anwar.
“This is the issue that worries us. We hope the police will not be pressured by the BN and refuse to grant us permit,” said Kassim, adding that they still can continue with ceramah kelompok (mini political talks) held in supporters’ homes if the public forum is denied.
Unlike west Malaysia, Sarawak political culture is more moderate and accommodating ,therefore, it is unlikely that the opposition and crowd in a ceramah, would act against the authority when ordered to disperse.

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