Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Daniel Tajam: Money Politics in Sarawak

Barisan Bersatu Sarawak (BBS) spokesperson Daniel Tajem, a former deputy chief minister and ex-PBDS president, had stood as a SNAP candidate in Bukit Begunan but lost. He said that while the BN has been given the mandate to rule the state, the people of Sarawak had given them a bloody hard kick on its behind, not hard enough to injure them but a stinging blow nonetheless. He was referring to the loss by the BN of 9 seats.

Tajem made the observation that in places where there has been more physical development, as in Kuching, voters were reluctant to support BN. He said:

“This ought to be an ironic feature to an administration that has trumpeted its virtue as a compelling exponent of the 'politics of development'. Where there has been most development there has been least endorsement for BN and where there been least development there has been the most endorsement.”

Could it be the public have been revolted by the corruption that’s usually associated with development? Or, could it be (more probably) they thought the BN was about to double-cross them with a humongous premium on their land lease?

However, Tajem provided another reason. He opined that monetary inducements to 4,760 villages chiefs, sweetened with monthly salaries backdated to March 1, 2006 totalling RM5.7 million, have ‘persuaded’ those penghulus to provide guidance to the kampong folks.

Tajem said the obvious: “This is an unvarnished version of 'money politics' that has been the bane of inter-party politics in the last several years in Malaysia.”

Ho hum, what’s new? But I can certainly understand Tajem’s frustration.

He warned the BN against fooling themselves into believing that their landslide victory (it’s still a landslide victory despite the DAP’s gain) indicated the people’s endorsement of their management of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. He said it would be a ‘grave mistake’ for BN to do so, because the NCR issue is the source of widespread disquiet among the affected populace.

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