Gone are the days when BN won every by-election in Sarawak without breaking a sweat or any talk of change and reform. A local boy writes from an “insider” point of view on the upcoming Sibu by-election along with some tips for Pakatan Rakyat to win this traditionally BN stronghold seat.
Sarawak is a strong fortress of the establishment, Barisan Nasional. Heck, Sarawak (together with Sabah) saved BN from embarrassment last General Election by giving them enough seats to rule this country. BN already lost in Peninsular at that time judging from the popular votes BN 48% – 52% PR, the sentiment had switched to Pakatan Rakyat.
People of Sarawak are still immune to the change happening in Peninsular, and from the most recent by election held after the GE at Batang Ai, Pakatan Rakyat still has a lot of works to do in order to make wave in Sarawak. BN retained Batang Ai seat when its candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, defeated PKR’s Jawah Gerang with an increased majority. Yes, increased majority. Pakatan Rakyat’s campaign for that by election is a total disappointment. I couldn’t even understand for what reason they chose Jawah Gerang as candidate in the first place. I wrote this in my previous post:
Why lah PKR chose Jawah Gerang as its candidate? This guy was the state assemblyman for the area for a freaking 5 terms! 20 over years! And we shall have him to bring “change?” Niamah!
Nevermind that, we are now holding our breath over the latest political center of attention, Sibu. This seat is very important for both BN and PR. Why? Anyone who wins this seat, can confidently say it may have a greater, better chance to fare well in the coming state election and general election.
BN needs to win this seat to maintain its grip on its “strong seat” and to send a message to all Malaysians that it is making a comeback under the new political master and all the promised changes, mantras, KPIs, and KRAs have struck a chord of acceptance among Malaysians.
PR needs to win this seat to make inroads to Sarawak. A win in Sibu will change everything. It will change the perception among people that only BN is the one and only choice for them. The perception that BN is mighty and will not lose. Just like before GE 2008, people thought it was impossible for BN to lose. People could not accept that change is possible. Who would have thought that BN would lose its 2/3 majority?
Before all this, every by-election was won by BN easily without much sweat. No more of that, we have to make people understand change is a good thing. The elected party will work harder to earn its worth. We should not give our votes easily, make them beg if necessary.
Just think, before all this happened, did BN ever talk about change? About reform? Now their leaders are talking about change and reforms. Most still remain rhetoric but that is a start, to acknowledge the need for change and reform.
I am not a political analyst, I am not somebody to reckon with in politics, I am not someone with plenty of experience in politics, I am not even a member of any political party. But I have few things to say Pakatan Rakyat leaders if they want to have better chance of winning the Sibu seat, this coming by election.
1) Tone and direction of the campaign. Please don’t campaign like how you campaign in Peninsular. It doesn’t work. Forget about condemning Umno, MCA, MIC. When in Sarawak, talk about the component parties here. SUPP, PBB. Why talk about Umno? The party does not even operate in Sarawak. People here cannot relate to that.
People here most probably don’t find Umno so much a threat. Most threats are from the local parties, local leaders here. Better talk about Taib Mahmud or talk about Alfred Jabu ak Numpang. James Jemut Masing. George Chan. Robert Lau has passed away, not so good to talk about him and he is very much loved figure among the locals when he was alive. Better, forget about condemning other parties if you can manage.
2) Please don’t make the campaign into another “condemn Barisan Nasional and its evil doings.” Have some class. Try to change the way you campaign. Some opposition parties have been campaigning that way since their existence, they know nothing but to whack, whack, whack, and whack BN all the way.
People already know all the good things and bad things about BN. Talk about what Pakatan Rakyat can offer. Make it a campaign on “what Pakatan Rakyat candidate can provide as a representative of the people” – the need for check and balance, the good things that PR has carried out as a state government in Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, Perak (er…?), Kedah.
3) Talk about issues that have immediate and obvious effect to the locals. Sorry but the political reality is, locals here cannot relate to Altantuya, TBH, PKFZ. So, touch on LOCAL ISSUES. Corruption cases, dirt by LOCAL LEADERS. Address the urgent, immediate problems of the locals. Local issues like flooding, land titles.
4) Work with local leaders. Let them take the stage. If possible use local dialects to engage the locals. In a predominant Iban crowds, find some Iban leaders to talk. Or speak some stammering Iban words. It will do wonders.
That is enough for now, I guess. All the best for the by election!
LB: This post originally appeared in the author’s blog.
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