No doubt UMNO is facing one of its most difficult times in history but the Sarawak state election does not serve as a good indicator of Najib’s popularity, as many may believe.
In rural or semi-rural constituencies where political literacy is relatively lower, the voters’ areas of concern are different from urban population. Economic issues, corruption, integrity, clean governance political ethic etc are issues too distant from the people’s heart hence do not necessarily resonate.
To rural population, what may be more relevant and important are development and provision of basic facilities, which is a responsibility of the government. The government which has control over taxpayers’ money has the obligation to put the money to good use and provide Sarawakians what many of them still lack today.
Opposition parties have limited resources to satisfy such needs, hence power of resources is habitually used by the government as an election sweetener in exchange for votes. This makes many rural constituencies the strongholds of government, even in the Peninsular.
It is hence misrepresenting to draw any correlation of the state election result to the leader’s or party’s true popularity, nor can it be taken as totally reflective of the performance of the government. In fact, whatever the election outcome is, we should look beyond the result and focus on the real issues. What needs to transpire is a nationwide political wake up call, for Sarawakians and the politicians.
As such, I have a few proposals to the future government of Sarawak.
The first commitment we need from the government will be the continual development and provision of facilities to the rural communities, even during non-election times. All Malaysians are entitled to basic facilities and it is only right for the government to acknowledge that as the top priority. At the same time, initiatives must be done to preserve the ecosystem and environment which form homes and heritages to many aboriginals till today. This means more stern actions to tackle the illegal logging activities in Sarawak.
Amidst challenging economy, it is crucial to implement sustainable and vibrant economic policies that provide jobs and elevate the people’s earning power. First step to do so includes the abolishment of any dysfunctional tax system that brings nothing but burden on the poor. More job opportunities must be given to locals so they don’t have to travel to other states for jobs.
It is important to preserve the harmony in the multi-racial and multi-religious state, hence we must not allow anyone to play with such sentiments for their own political interests. We do not simply point our fingers at anybody and accuse them of engaging in acts of extremism without justification. Any attempt to do so, especially during election period, will undermine the spirit of democracy and fair election.
March on, Bumi Kenyalang!