Ahad, 3 April 2011

S’wak polls: Rude wake-up call for PKR

If Snap is indeed being funded by BN as PKR strenuously claims, this is something that’s best seen to be believed.
The propaganda barrage is intense. The story is that the Sarawak National Party (Snap) is a fifth column within the opposition alliance and or otherwise funded by the ruling Barisan Nasional to split votes and give the latter victory by default.
The fact that such self-serving talk emanates openly from PKR does not seem to augur too well for the fledging opposition alliance in Sarawak. PKR is clearly the spoiler in the pack.
It’s true that the BN in Sarawak has been known to fund at least one mosquito party which appears from nowhere, on the eve of state elections, to make a bid for every seat.
The most infamous example was Parti Negara Rakyat Sarawak (Negara) in the early 1990s which was funded by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)-linked moneybags. The party lost every seat but in the process managed to draw away enough votes from the opposition especially in the marginal and mixed seats.
If Snap is indeed being funded by BN as PKR strenuously claims, notwithstanding various devious attempts in the past by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to finish it off once and for all, this is something that’s best seen to be believed.

PKR seems patently oblivious to the inconvenient fact that Daniel Tajem, Taib’s arch political enemy and nemesis, is Snap adviser. Hence, BN funding for Snap is an unlikely scenario given the history of mutual animosity between the two men.
Taib has been known to openly ridicule Tajem even in the Iban longhouses. Here, the Melanau Dayak Taib puts on his Dayak mask while downplaying his faith in the process.
There is also the fact that Snap is not going for every seat unlike Negara. A BN-funded Snap would surely go for all 71 state seats. Also, the talk is that former PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan may be Snap’s director of operations for the elections. Again, this rules out the “BN-funded Snap” theory.
It’s not known how the opposition alliance will come together, if at all, before the April 6 nomination date. For one, there’s still no let-up in the PKR campaign against Snap as the former desperately attempts to discredit the latter in the eyes of the voters to claim the lion’s share of the seats. However, even their unlikely coming together will not assure the opposition alliance victory at the polls.
‘Melayu party from Malaya’
If at all the Ibans turn away from BN, and quite a number of them will do so in any case this time, they are more than likely to swear by the home-grown Snap rather than PKR. The latter is seen disparagingly by the parochial longhouse dwellers as a “Melayu party from Malaya.”
The Ibans know which side their political bread is buttered vis-a-vis Peninsular Malaysia. They may have more than a beef with the Taib regime but they will be damned if they are going to allow any orang luar (outsiders) to capitalise on the situation in the process.
The lessons of Sabah from 1994, and the current predicament of the Dusun, are only too well etched in their minds. Nine out of the 12 state cabinet positions in Sabah, including that of chief minister, are today held by Peninsular Malaysian parties. That’s more than enough to scare off the locals from a Kuala Lumpur-controlled Sarawak PKR for good.
No doubt, in the post April 16-period, PKR will have to seriously re-think its presence in Sabah and Sarawak or kiss Putrajaya goodbye forever.
PKR must incorporate itself locally in Sabah and Sarawak, and remain independent of Kuala Lumpur, if it is to be accepted by the tribal-minded Iban and Dusun in particular. The latter continue to flee PKR in the wake of Jeffrey first declining to go for any posts during the recent party polls – except that of Pensiangan division chief – and later announcing his bombshell departure around New Year’s Day.
Attempts are still being made by the party to woo Jeffrey back after it initially made various attempts to demonise him but to no avail. PKR Kota Kinabalu division chief Christina Liew remains starry-eyed and is hoping against hope that her “hero” Jeffrey will return before too long to the fold. She dreams on in the manner that de facto party chief Anwar Ibrahim dreams on in Sabah and Sarawak.
Too ambitious for its own good
PKR, under Anwar, has so far been clearly too ambitious for its own good in Sabah and Sarawak. Much of this ambition is based on the outdated model of proxy politics put in place by the ruling elite since Malaysia. Wither the agenda for change and reform!
PKR sees itself as the legitimate alternative to the PBB in Sarawak and Umno in Sabah. Both the ruling parties in Malaysian Borneo are cast in the ketuanan Melayu (Malay dominance and supremacy) mould favoured by the ruling elite in Putrajaya.
PKR comes 30 years too late to join the gravy train in Malaysian Borneo. PBB and Sabah Umno are discredited political models waiting to tumble down like a house of cards. Already, Sabah BN has come under severe strain as its oft-cited power-sharing model and consensus-and-compromise approach to decision-making – the BN spirit – comes apart at the hands of local warlords.
The inevitable destruction of the Pesaka component of PBB will finally free Dayak politics from Putrajaya. This will bring an end to proxy politics in Sarawak once and for all. Sarawak, as yet, may for once finally show the way for Sabah.
PKR, under the circumstances, should be willing to eat humble pie and play second fiddle in Sarawak to the local parties like Snap and the others. But this happy state of affairs is unlikely to materialise as long as the party and Anwar dream on oblivious to the emerging harsh realities on the ground.
Almost no one, at this juncture, wants to hazard a guess at the eventual fate of the opposition alliance come April 16 in Sarawak.
One brave analyst in Kuching, a veteran of many polls, thinks that Snap can do no better than nine seats, PKR three seats, DAP 13 seats and PAS one seat. That gives a grand total of 26 seats to deny the BN its coveted two-third majority in the state assembly.
Snap’s seats are likely to come from Pesaka and PBB except perhaps for one each from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
DAP’s 13 seats will be taken away from the Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) and drawn from the Chinese, marginal/mixed seats. Already, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has announced that the party will go for 15 seats in Sarawak including five in the south and the rest in the central and northern regions.
PKR is expected to get a seat each from marginal/mixed Malay, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities. The party, it is reported, wants to go for between 37 and 39 seats at the very minimum, conceding five to PAS, 15 to 17 to Snap and 15 to DAP.
PKR has reportedly three competing lists i.e. one drawn up by state chief Baru Bian, another by Anwar and the third with 10 names selected by businessman Sng Chee Hua and to be funded by him. Sng is not wiling to fund the other PKR candidates. This has made the Sarawak chapter wonder why they should accept his proposal without getting anything in return.
PAS’ sole win in the forthcoming state election can only be in the marginal/mixed area with a significant number of Malay voters.
There are 12 marginal and five mixed seats in Sarawak.

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