Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sarawak Election 2016

It is difficult to separate politics from economics, so here is my simple take on the recent event. The Sarawak election today concluded with BN retaining its two-thirds majority while DAP lost some seats.

The opposition was riding on the euphoria of the strong support in the Peninsular in the last election and all that it needed was for the East Malaysians to continue that momentum to complete the Last Push for the opposition coalition to take over the national government. Many Sarawakians flew back for that push but it wasn't enough. It was essentially a lost cause. Not many flew back this time and many didn't bother to vote. There was nothing much that could be done to change the national government. The only thing that was left was for a few urban diehards to register their discontent with the existing government policy which so far have had no benefit to them except policies which burden them further economically.

This being a state election, the state issues have all been substantially dealt with very quickly by the incumbent chief minister to the extent that he risked being labelled a dictator; and some did label him that. But he did not suffer from that labeling as ordinary people felt he solved real problems, and not merely engaging in rhetoric. The real problem with the previous state government was Taib but his retirement from the cm post had basically removed that sting from the opposition. The popularity of Adenan has made Taib a non-issue; we will probably see the end of the politics of character-assassination in the state.

The intense rhetoric of the opposition never sat comfortably with the people of Sarawak as they are more accustomed to soft-talk and compromises. Even when issues were raised, they were often done with great deference to traditional values. The more aggressive style of extremism verging on militancy could wipe up raging emotions, but fiery rhetoric still could not beat simple actions. But in some of the hinterland, there were concerns over ancestral land and heritage and ways of life and there were some show of resistance to radical change and modernisation.

The geography of Sarawak, being physically apart from the Peninsular, makes the development of the state difficult and expensive. This economic handicap and the inability of Putrajaya to conceive of an economic policy that is not wholly Peninsular- nor Malay-centric mean that politics as would be directed by Putrajaya would be resisted by the people, including those from the opposition. The people were listening to all the politicians as to what the politicians would do for them, and I think the people knew what they did.

The people of Sarawak had not been much bothered by the politics in the Peninsular until those politics adversely affect not just the Chinese and non-Bumiputra but also native Bumiputra. This is the time when we can see the Sarawak people acting as one and resist the enemy from without, including the current opposition. Hopefully a day will come when the opposition in the state is a bona fide state opposition, and not a branch of a Peninsular party. I am sure that the people of Sarawak are strong enough to provide their own resistance to an internal dominance.

Malaysians may not expect a Malaysians can be at peace and in harmony with all races regardless of race and religion, but Sarawak seems to have got it right in trying to work together in an amiable manner. Or is the world now so globalised that we all have to shout in order to be heard? Or are we merely seeking attention and fame, without substance? Sarawak may be an economically backward state stymied by being an adopted child, its leaders might have been blinded by greed, but after darkness a light will shine to show to path to redemption.

A strong government with a strong opposition is the way for a modern democracy to go, that would be anybody's wish. In the meantime, as the nation and its component partners learn to grow and mature in civility, a strong government with a sensible leader may be the way to go. The election results showed the wishes of the people.


walla said...

1. Never a finer soccer match was played in this land.

The stadium gatekeeper expelled supporters from the visiting team. The referee closed an eye to the sudden influx of gatecrashers. The linesmen moved the line. Even the field was tilted. And cash rained on supporters of the home team while the other side was too poor to follow suit when asked.

How was it that one side was rich but the other side was poor? Maybe it's economics, yes?

2. It therefore stands to reason such powerful economics should theoretically produce strong governments.

But does a strong government mean a good government?

One but need to only recall Chomsky's 'death of the middle-class and decline of true democracy' to express some reservations about writing present history by the pen of the victors.

3. Nevertheless true, the opposition was itself found wanting. It forgot the essence here remains indigeneity and repeated the same mistake committed the last round. Additionally, it imploded this time even before the whistle was blown.

4. And what is a good government?

Is it about recognizing a vernacular qualification that was already heads above mainstream ones decades ago which until now was recognized internationally but paradoxically not locally?

Or is it about helping the poor and needy and building roads and bridges, things no government worth its salt would neglect since those are the things it would be elected to do so in the first place?

Or is it about saying religious bigotry will not be given sway in the land when everyone already knows that component is itself coincidentally trying to hedge its own fortune with the incumbents against the very principles it purportedly touts until today it is given short shrift in no uncertain terms that arabization followed by radicalization will only result in political marginalization in this land? Why the sandiwara? Did Hadi say it to drive the canny voters towards financially scandalized incumbents so as to win favor in some naikish future?

So if a government is made strong by such machiavellian tactics, can it be a good government? Especially when voters are now unabashedly asking for money without a second thought where such money would be coming from - the pockets of their children, inflated budgets of future projects, the riches of the land, the blessings of the earth....

...And we call that the democracy of hope that somehow someday the guilty would turn over a new leaf and take less not of theirs so that the poor and needy and the able and hardworking can rise to be economically independent enough to contribute more to state building while enjoying a socio-economic rubric that is progressive, modern and growing?

What turgid tonic tooketh thee?

5. Enough. One may say it's all subjective and all's well that ends well. If the downtrodden and innocent have grown accustomed to their plight, why make it painful for them to realize they have been had? Why be nosey-parkers? Why not adopt the silence of finitude, the intercorporeal self of a Merleau-Ponty, even walla's new insight that human beings are just process components in flux?

6. 1MDB pales in comparison to the others.

Vincent Ang said...

Is 1MDB the mother of all scandals in Malaysia? No. The mother of all scandals in Malaysia is the willingness of many Malaysians in particular the Bumiputras to trade away their future for cash today in a land of great abundance. Walla is correct. There will be no redemption.