Despite the Election Commission’s (EC) verdict (but % not revealed) of a disappointing turnout in the Sarawak State election, the opposition did as reasonably well as could be expected in an adverse environment of little (or even pro-BN) press publicity and limited resources.
Assuming what the EC said has been correct, poor turnout would usually spell disaster for opposition parties, while high voters’ participation in generally means the people has something to say about a ruling party. There have of course been exceptions to this rule. This must be one of them.
Anyway, as predicted the BN returns to power in Sarawak but with an opposition making a watershed breakthrough. Not surprising, the Chinese populace had something to say, at the expense of the SUPP and to the delight of the DAP.
Malaysiakini journalist Francis Paul commented that it has shaken the Sarawak political world for SUPP to lose four of its seats in Kuching to political novices from the DAP. The disastrous loss included the seats of two (former, if KTemoc may just add) assistant ministers and a mayor. Overall, the SUPP lost 8 of its 19 seats, almost a 50% collapse of its support.
Pending, Batu Lintang and the new seat of Kota Sentosa were supposed to be ‘safe’ (or blue-ribboned) seats for SUPP, which has been ‘untouchable’ in those constituencies for the past two decades or more. But then in the past two decades or more, the Chinese Malaysians have become more dissatisfied with their positions as citizens (they think, of sorts).
I suppose in Sarawak, with its residents' inherent ‘coolness’ towards the west, their disaffections have now manifested more quickly than would be the case with their western counterparts, into the DAP assuming a more significant presence in the State.
One of the SUPP losers has been Assistant Minister and Supp secretary general Sim Kheng Hui in Pending, the stronghold of his late uncle and former deputy chief minister Sim Kheng Hong. He lost the ‘family’s crown jewel’ to a DAP newcomer, 29-year-old Violet Yong. Hope she can become another Teresa Kok.
Another loss was in the Batu Lintang seat, virtually Chan Seng Khai’s fortress since 1991, but former Sarawak DAP strongman Sim Kwang Yang, standing this time as a SUPP candidate, was defeated there. Voon Lee Shan of the DAP did not just unseat him but pulverised him with more than a 3000-vote majority, demonstrating the feelings of that constituency.
The DAP won six seats in Kota Sentosa, Bukit Assek (whopping 4751 majority), Batu Lintang, Meradong, Pending and Kidurong. Good ole PKR got one, Padungan, of the 5 it had aimed for (better than nothing), while SNAP won in Engkilili.
Sour-grape Abdul Taib Mahmud said voters had fallen for the opposition ‘propaganda’. Well, haven't those who voted for the BN also fallen for the ruling party's more dodgy campaign tricks? But as overall winner he should still be happy while DCM George Chan, who took a potshot at Anwar Ibrahim on the oil royalty issue, must be still in shock.
Can the sweeping sea change reflected by the Sarawak voters’ disaffection with the BN see similar outcomes in the Peninsula? We need to bear in mind too that a major portion of the Chinese voters’ swing to the opposition had been due to the growing unpopularity of the CM. Then there is the Chinese Sarawakians’ unique sense of identity which certainly hasn’t’ help George Chan’s party.
Note: When I posted this in the early morning, me ole sleepy head included a number of grammatical errors, out-of-place words, and typos. Three hours later, after several black coffees, I have corrected them and also taken the opportunity to polish up some sentences including a couple of new insertions, but I have not altered the general contents. I won't correct the error in the title for now as it would affect the link in Petaling Street page.