Opposition’s campaign of substance? Not!

Posted on April 12, 2011


I’ve noticed something about the opposition campaign in this year’s state election; they don’t really have any issues to talk about.

What I do know is that they are obsessed about CHANGE.

Specifically what kind of change and when this change is supposed to happen, I’m not sure.

All I know is they also have this cartoon character in the form of an adorable hornbill, called UBAH (which means CHANGE in Bahasa Malaysia, for those of you who failed BM in school).

The opposition wants us to VOTE FOR CHANGE! VOTE FOR UBAH!

But I’m pretty  sure that they don’t want us to vote for that cute hornbill, do they?

And on that topic, is the cutesy image supposed to appeal to a younger voting base? Or are they just trying to soften their own image?

Whatever the reason, I like it (in a purely marketing point of view, of course).

By the way, when I talk about UBAH (the bird), it’s only in reference to DAP.

Please note that the bird doesn’t represent the other component parties in the coalition of convenience that is sometimes known as Pakatan Rakyat. Don’t ask me why, though.

So what kind of change are they really talking about, then?

Is it change to make your life better? I don’t think so, at least I’ve never heard them talk about it like that.

Is it change to increase employment in Sarawak? Not sure.

And since they always talk about the rising cost of goods, are they bringing change to bring the cost of goods down? I have no idea how or when.

What about all that money they’re talking about giving to Dayaks and old folks, maybe that’s the change they’re talking about, you may ask? True they’ve promised that, but have they talked about where they’re going to get all this billions of Ringgit from?

I’m pretty sure that plan will involve a deficit budget (instead of the surplus budget) which means the State will need to spend more than we make, which will mean that our international credit ratings will also take a big hit.

Change to stop corruption? Seriously? They expect us to believe that? If Sarawak is so corrupt, we wouldn’t be able to have our good international credit ratings in the first place.

As our CM pointed out, Sarawak’s credit rating and financial management is way ahead of Penang’s!

Maybe the change they’re talking about is changing our long-serving CM, just so that they can have their own chief minister in place?

But, then again, we don’t need to have the opposition to change the CM, because our current Chief Minister and even our Prime Minister has already said that he’s (CM) stepping down soon.

We don’t need the opposition for that now, do we?

Wouldn’t it be better to have a smooth transition of power…than to have the opposition’s candidate for CM, who could be influenced by foreigners such as…oh, I don’t know…maybe a certain sister-in-law of a former UK Prime Minister, perhaps. Who knows?

It is important that we maintain our political stability in such a crucial time in our history, so that we can protect ourselves from unwanted outside influences, not just from London town but from across the South China Sea, as well.

BN Sarawak may not be calling for change but what has it done all these years if not bring change to Sarawak?

That change has a more boring name called peace and prosperity and progress, by the way.

That kind of change may also seem boring to some people but I’ll take it any day.

Quite simply, that kind of change is what will ensure that Sarawak will be a better place to live.

Boring and corny. Definitely!

But it’s better than what the current opposition can offer us, don’t you agree?



The view of Sarawak ReportS on the opposition’s platform in this year’s Sarawak State Election:

The Fallacy of Change for Change’s Sake: The Failure at the Heart of the Opposition in the Sarawak Elections

APRIL 11, 2011

As the Sarawak state election crosses the halfway mark, Sarawakians are facing that greatest of gifts of living in an electoral democracy: They have a choice. All of the fervent campaigning, the election posters, the political talk on every corner, is proof that Sarawakians are taking seriously this privilege and responsibility, and for that, they should be commended.

Broadly speaking, there are two political sides in play. On the one hand is the Barisan Nasional (BN), the governing coalition that has won almost every election in Sarawak in recent decades. On the other is a mishmash of parties, some local, some trying to make inroads from the peninsula. The two sides are offering very different messages. BN, with decades of ecologically-mindful economic development and improved, is promising more of the same. The opposition is largely bereft of a single platform, except opposition to Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and a promise to try to extract more oil royalties from the national government. (In fairness, this is partially due to the manner in which the opposition is contesting this election; because of poor coordination and infighting, they are in some cases fighting each other as much as they are fighting BN.)

BN has a great deal about which to boast. As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in his electrifying speech last night, BN can make promises because it has delivered. Close relations with the national government have allowed Sarawak to develop from one of the less-developed of the Malaysian states into an increasingly diverse economy, including a focus on renewable energy and development that will attract billions in ringgits to the once-impoverished state. SCORE, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, is well underway, with the first of the major SCORE hydropower dams coming on line very shortly. Improved health statistics across almost every metric, improving per-capita GDP, and improved living standards have made Sarawak a growing state with the feel of a boom town.

BN has not rested on its laurels. Not only is it promoting its past efforts, it is squarely focused on the future, with the PM giving effusive praise to Dr. Sim Kui Hian, a rising star in the Chinese community seeking the Pending seat, and his plan to build a world-class health center in Kuching, the state’s administrative capital. BN has changed its campaigning style as well, going from its traditional, staid regalia to more modern art and promises of future development.

The opposition parties — with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) taking the lead — are attempting to turn this election into a referendum on Taib; or more accurately, on the Chief Minister’s longevity and repeated wins at the ballot box, rather than his policies. This is especially true of DAP, which is focusing its efforts on the swing Chinese community. The campaign signs around Sarawak are disproportionately about Taib, rather than their own candidates, and the substance of what the opposition can do for Sarawak, deprived of the national funds and connections that have made the significant infrastructure improvements of the last three decades. This is, frankly, an issue that DAP and the rest of the opposition have chosen to skate past, relying almost entirely on what they are against — Chief Minister Taib — rather than what they are for.

DAP PosterA DAP Poster in Kuching, Sarawak. The opposition parties are making this election an anti-Taib rather than pro-substance campaign.

DAP and the other parties are essentially running on a change-for-change’s sake platform, a promise that despite a lack of influence with the national government, and no real program for continued improvement in Sarawak, they will represent a bright, gauzy future.

In any electoral democracy, there is a strong tendency to want to change the government just to see what the new blood can do. It is human nature to want to make sure you’re not missing something by being comfortable. It is a dangerous game, however, where billions in economic development and human health are concerned. It is especially dangerous, as so many other countries have learned, when the party offering itself as “change” has no way to accomplish the change once elected. This danger from the fractured opposition is becoming more apparent to Sarawakian voters.

The people of Sarawak vote in five days. The choice is clear: Continued progress or a toss of the coin. Sarawakians are a pragmatic people; the odds say they will choose to continue their incredible economic and social progress of the last three decades.