Sarawak Election 2011 – 10 Reasons BN Will Still Win
alaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been sweating a lot lately, not because of his hectic schedule due to Sarawak state election but because the intelligence reports could not confirm Sarawak, being ruling government’s “fixed deposit”, would maintain its two-thirds majority. Hence the change of his official schedule to spend six-day until the eve of polling day, touring Sarawak, when the campaigning was already on its fifth day.
Najib used to play minor role in numerous by-elections and normally would dedicate the active role in campaigning to his deputy. Najib has been trumpeting that Sarawak state was BN’s (Barisan Nasional) “fixed deposit” so his sudden active role raised thousands of eye-brows. Now, the Sarawak state election becomes his personal battlefield. Heck, his deputy PM Muhyiddin would be the happiest person if the opposition wins big because then he would have the excuse to boot PM Najib into early retirement, the same way Najib booted his predecessor, former PM Abdullah Badawi.
One wonders the deadly silence on former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s part during the current campaign period. Either Mahathir knows Sarawak will retain its two-third majority hence sending the opposition packing with tails between their legs, or the old man is busy preparing for deputy PM Muhyiddin to be installed as the new prime minister with his own son, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Mukhriz Mahathir, as the new deputy Prime Minister.
If the Mar 2008 general election campaign is anything to goes by, the huge crowds commanded by opposition namely Pakatan Rakyat especially in Kuching, Sibu and Miri during their rallies were signal that Najib’s BN is indeed in trouble. But was Najib over-reacted by going down the field to campaign himself for the rest of the 6-day campaigning period? Was the opposition over-confident that the same tsunami that hit Peninsular would bring the same catastrophe to Najib’s government?
Internet is once again flushed with optimism that the opposition would deny the “fixed deposit” state of its two-thirds majority. Some even went the extra miles predicting opposition would wrest the Sarawak state, so much for the wet dream. In reality, opposition can never capture Sarawak state, at least not during this state election simply because Sarawak is a different animal from Penang, Selangor, Kedah or Kelantan. Here are the reasons:
1) The Malay-Melanau Minority Factor
Despite Taib Mahmud’s corrupt practice, the Malay-Melanau community is particularly proud that one of their own is the Chief Minister although Malay-Melanau forms only 27% of Sarawak’s 2.4 million population.
Generally the Malay-Melanau community is doing better than other natives so there’s no reason to rock the boat that is feeding them and they don’t really care if Taib Mahmud was serious about stepping down after the state election.
Out of 71 seats to be contested, there’re 26 which are Malay-Melanau dominated so these seats are as good as in the BN’s pocket. Just flash the poster depicting Bian Baru, a non Malay-Melanau, as the new Chief Minister should the opposition wins was sufficient to scare the hell out of the Malay-Melanau community.
2) Rural Seats with Poor Infrastructures Overwhelm Urban Seats
OK, the opposition especially DAP is set to win big in Chinese-majority urban seats hence sending SUPP packing, the same way DAP sent Gerakan in Penang to semi-retirement. DAP which is contesting 15 urban seats this time is sure to add number to its current 6 seats but can it make a clean sweep?
It would be sweet victory if DAP can win all 15 seats but the party was prudent in aiming for 12-seats.
However in rural areas, opposition is almost powerless what more with the poor infrastructure in reaching the voters. Furthermore these rural voters are so decentralize that it’s an uphill task to cover all of them given the short 10-day campaign period.
3) Rural Sarawakian will Take the Money and Still Vote for BN
Unlike their lucky buddy DAP, PKR which is contesting 49 seats are struggling in the rural constituencies. Najib’s BN is smiling their policy in keeping rural population as poor as possible is bearing fruits.
While the opposition calls on voters to “take BN’s money but vote for opposition” works wonderfully well in Peninsular, the same doesn’t work with native culture such as the Iban where tradition taught them to be grateful and appreciate the hand that feed (the money) them.
If that’s not enough throw in some parties and crates of beers and your votes are secured.
4) BN has the Most Lethal Weapon – Money
If the opposition still cries unfairness because the BN throws (tax-payers) money for votes, then they’re either stupid or was born yesterday. Money politics has been part of the culture in Malaysia so much so special branch agents were reportedly act as an agent for BN to buy over opposition candidates during this election.
BN will send its agent to visit longhouse, door by door, to distribute cash ranging from RM50 to RM300 – a huge amount considering poor urban families typically earn between RM100 to RM500 a month.
Not only rural but urban areas such as Kuching voters are reportedly offered between RM100 and RM200 each for their votes. Surely there would be takers who will vote for BN now.
5) The Fear and Intimidation Factor
Unlike Peninsular, Sarawak is a state where its rural community is cleverly controlled by community leaders. This appointed community leaders from Malay, Chinese and Iban would do the biddings of BN since they draw their allowance of RM800 from the Barisan Nasional.
Should there be support for opposition, the community leaders will be sacked while the government assistance such as provision of fertiliser, seedling and herbicide be terminated.
6) Rural and even Urban Sarawakians Still Love (CheapSkate) “Goodies”
Even if the opposition candidates are lucky to pass the hindrance of unusual police restrictions and granted visit by the headmen (“tuai”), the villagers would openly ask for money.
Heck, who can blame the rural folks when the urban voters were crazily scramble for “Tupperware” (*grin*) during an indoor rally that left many jounalists and policement gasping in disbelief? Sure, these people may not vote for BN but if they would risk their life madly for a Tupperware, chances are high they can be bought over with hard-cash, no?
7) Three or Multiple Ways Battles
There’s a record 213 candidates fighting for the 71 state seats: 27 one-to-one fights, 23 three-way battles, 17 four-cornered fights, 2 five-cornered battles and 2 six-cornered fights. SNAP, dubbed the Trojan Horse, is contesting 27 seats, 25 of which are 3-way battles in Dayak-majority seats with BN and PKR.
Assuming DAP and PKR were correct to be confident in delivering 12 seats and 15 seats respectively (on the one-to-one battles?), the kingmaker is obviously SNAP, provided this so-called Trojan Horse is genuine in its fight to get rid of the corrupt Taib Mahmud. Of course if SNAP is indeed the mole, then it won’t matter, would it?
The rest of the three and multiple corner fights would split the opposition votes so it would be bonus if opposition Pakatan Rakyat can steals some seats.
8) Special “Help” from Election Commission
Many can still remember how Election Commission was allegedly dumped ballot boxes into the river during Batang-Ai by-election.
With the current tension and fever, there’s no reason why Election Commission will not do the same, not that the opposition can do anything and will know about it because there’s no observer allowed during the helicopter rides.
9) Potential Frogs Within Opposition Parties
Get real, there’re very few who can resists the temptation of money, millions or even tens of millions of dollars for any opposition candidates who won their seats to jump ship to BN.
As can be seen in Peninsular, principle and so-called belief in struggle will take a back-seat once bags of money are presented on the table.
10) Phantom Voters
Well, what can I say on this classic factor? As usual, if phantom voters could somehow ended inside ballot boxes in Peninsular, how difficult it is to perform this SOP (standard operating procedure) during the journey to the counting center at Sarawak?
For reasons only known to Election Commission, they somehow knew the turnout would be above 80%.
There’re many more other factors including the difficulties in getting young voters who are working in Peninsular to fly back to cast their votes. The writing is on the wall. While Taib Mahmud would experience the worst election result in this 30-year rule, the BN will continue to rule the state. The worst case scenario – BN to lose two-thirds majority in the state but the opposition can never capture the state this round simply because Sarawak is a different animal from Penang, Selangor, Kedah or Kelantan.
But nothing is absolute in politics. Maybe, just maybe the controversial Bible issue could mobilise the native Iban and swing the votes to opposition’s advantage. Still, bread and butter are more important than religious matter so it might not trigger the much needed fire if enough money are poured into the villages. To the superstitious lots, the helicopter that crashed after deputy PM Muhyiddin disembarked could well be constructed as a bad omen to the corrupt government Barisan Nasional.