Sabo! Sabo! Sabo! …the disturbing culture in Sarawak Politics

Posted on March 5, 2011


In Sarawak, brand ‘Barisan Nasional’ used to be so popular that it was widely said that BN could nominate an object such as a songkok or an animal such as a monkey, and STILL win comfortably.

Nowadays, with the internet and with our people more exposed to things happening in the world and in Malaya,  that’s not the case anymore. Well, not in all places, anyway.

Come to think of it, I can name one or two places where the opposition could nominate a hat or a dog now and come out as the elected representative of the area. Amazing rimauataskerusi, isn’t it?

As for losing these “fortress” seats, my shallow knowledge of Sarawak politics leads me to believe that there can only be two culprits to blame.

The #1 culprit is betting. This is usually connected to organised crime, mainly for the profit motive, which may or may not be driven by a political agenda.

The #2 culprit, which I will talk about in this posting, is the act of sabotage by people in the candidate’s own party.

I was presented with the perfect opportunity to raise up this issue today by the former AND present elected representative of the Padungan constituency, which lies in the State capitol.

In The Borneo Post today, the former rep was quoted as saying that no one outside that particular party branch should be allowed to stand.

Actually, her words were “non-SUPP members”.

What she’s really saying is that “if you put in a candidate who is not from my branch, I will sabotage that guy’s campaign and teach you a proper lesson!”

In this case, I foresee a gag order coming up from SUPP. Which of course will be useless, as the former elected representative will get around it and get her way. Unless the party puts its foot down, that is.

SUPP can forget about winning back the seat if they only enjoy fighting to be nominated. A firm eye on the prize? Not.

Ironically, the opposition also presented me with a fantastic story about sabo, which just happens to be in Padungan, as well.

What’s going on in this place? I might just have to go there for my lunch and a walkabout later, just to find out.

Well, the current representative claims that he is being sabo-ed by DAP, which he believes wants to take over his seat.

This representative used to be a member of DAP before getting a better deal from PKR. I’m sure he felt vindicated by his move when he won in 2006, when he could finally say to the DAP leaders “I told you so!”

DAP has now won a legal suit which could declare the rep a bankrupt and thus ineligible to contest in this year’s State election.

Of course, DAP is supremely confident that it can put a hat or dog or hat-wearing dog in Padungan and come out tops, so why should it allow PKR to spoil the party? And since it involves that particular Padungan individual, the decision is even more straightforward for DAP.

In an unprecedented move though, the rep is appealing to his constituents to bail him out of trouble and donate money for his cause.

Vote for change he said in 2006. What he really meant was he wanted all their small change too!

I’m sure PKR will loan him the money, if they’re serious about retaining him for Padungan. Otherwise, it should be clear to one and all that decisions made in Malaya by DAP and PKR would seal his fate.

In any case, the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat has shown that the culture of sabo is alive and strong in Sarawak politics…and not just in the ruling coalition, either.