A by-election will soon be called in Sarawak after the death of the BN state assembly member for Batang Ai, Dublin Unting. In the 2006 state elections, Unting defeated a Snap candidate, Nicholas Bawin Anggat, who has since joined PKR, by an 806-vote majority.
PKR must have received a boost from the reported 4,000 crowd that turned up in Bintulu to listen to Anwar. While the crowd size may have appeared encouraging to many, a former resident of Bintulu cautions Pakatan and Anwar not to get too carried away. They still have much work to do:
I read the report that Anwar Ibrahim drew a large crowd in Bintulu. That is good. But please realise that a large turnout does not mean support for Anwar in Sarawak’s case.
All the same, I believe many in Bintulu are not happy with the government as they have (one of) the highest assessment rates in Malaysia. I was posted there for four years (1997 – 2000).
Many people would come to town if there is an event, and so when Anwar was coming, they all came down in droves using kereta sapu. Even if there is a circus clown coming, the crowd would be the same.
Bintulu has seen the DAP under its wing. The DAP’s Chiew Chin Seng, the state assembly member for Kidurong, (is) a nice guy and his personality is what has captured the rakyat’s support.
I remember on one occasion when we attended a function hosted by the state government, Chiew was invited as I was too. He was seated in the “public” section while the BN YBs were seated on stage. When these BN YBs started their greetings, Chiew’s name was omitted. It was a pitiful sight.
When it was coffee break, they had two sections: one for the VIPs and the other for the audience. Chiew was queuing in the line for his coffee.
When the audience saw him, they immediately gave way for him, saying “YB dulu“.
He told them, never mind, he doesn’t mind queueing up.
When the whole audience (many Malays too even from Semenanjung) saw him, they all asked him to go first. It was a “commotion”. Many Malays were not too happy that the BN YBs treated another YB like that.
When the BN YBs saw that Chiew was so well received, only then did they come over to him and ask him to join them, which he declined politely.
He told the BN YBs he had many friends in the audience.
I can tell you he won a lot of respect from people who didn’t even know him. So, to Anwar’s team, don’t be fooled by the crowd numbers.
Sarawak is different from semenanjung. In semenanjung, we have in most kampungs at least a graduate in many families or kampungs. Not so in Sarawak. Many of my friends in the rural areas will ONLY vote for the government. For them, only BN=Government=BN. They see no other alternatives to BN. They just don’t understand the concept of government.
So even with change happening in semenanjung, it will not necessarily translate to change in Sabah and Sarawak. Many here are still illiterate and they tend to view the more educated ones as saviours. But the problem is some of the educated ones have no principles (and) can be “bought”.