So this is it. The Sarawak state election is likely to be held in April. And an announcement about the date could be made soon.
One contact in Sarawak told me last week that he heard the election could be held on the 9-10 April weekend. We shall see if he is right. Whatever the dates, these polls will be closely contested.
One theory is that Taib Mahmud may decide not to remain as chief minister to pull the rug from under the opposition campaign. After all, the chief minister has been in power for 30 years and has become the focal point of criticism. His administration has come under heavy fire in the wake of environmental destruction, the loss of native customary rights land (now being challenged in through law suits), the scandals in the corporate takeover of land, the ostentatious wealth of family members, and corruption scandals including the ‘leakages’ of federal funds.
More than that, it is the sense that Sarawak’s wealth, which could have benefited its people immensely, has instead fabulously enriched a small coterie of individuals and well-connected companies.
The elections will also provide a chance for the people to let the BN know what they think of the idea of more dams and smelters, in the wake of the controversial Bakun project. The corporate stakes are huge and it won’t come as a surprise if certain forces go all out to break up opposition attempts at ensuring straight fights in all 71 seats.
The polls will also tell us how secure the BN parliamentary vote banks (seats) of Sabah and Sarawak really are.