A letter from Kuching


A Kuching-based political observer sent me this letter which I am sharing with you. See what you make of it.

What PR and PKR in particular failed to understand is how the BN has worked in rural areas (Malay, Melanau, Iban, Bidayuh and some Orang Ulu). These communities rely heavily on the BN for paltry sums of donations and grants. Come elections the penghulus (appointed by BN) may be told to ensure all the longhouses under their care vote for BN and prevent any opposition politicians from entering their longhouses.

The penghulus are afraid because they receive a monthly allowance from the government and there is no way they are going to allow anyone to make them lose their allowances.

On top of that some penghulu may be given a sum of money to be distributed to the longhouse folks through the longhouse chiefs. Along the way the amount smeant for each longhouse dweller may be ‘taxed’ by the penghulus and longhouse chiefs. Of course besides money there are things like beers, pigs for BBQ, rice packets, etc that may be distributed.

Now, we must remember many of the folks are poor and they see election time as ‘durian runtuh’. To us in the towns and cities we think it is so cheap to buy their votes but to them it is either that or nothing at all. We forget them all after the elections as no opposition parties are seen after that returning to see how they are doing. The BN rep will return be it for Christmas or Gawai or Hari Raya and dish out some money for their places of worship like chapels, etc.

The church on the other hand is another issue. The leaders especially in the rural areas are only humans. They want to be seen as ‘powerful’ and to be met and to be shaking hands with the YBs. It makes them feel important. So again these leaders will not tell them the real issues facing society at large. To the educated ones they say the church remains neutral and this allows them the justification of not standing up against abuses.
PR will have to start early and right away if they want to win GE 13. They shouldn’t wait until the date is announced. They should start by identifying and choosing several potential candidates to stand for GE 13. Once the candidates are known they will have to start work on the ground. In one constituency, you could have say three or four potential candidates. As the date draws nearer, the party leadership should choose the most hard working, dedicated and promising candidates as its final choice. All the others who are not chosen then will have to just support the candidate chosen.
Sarawak is a vast area and larger than West Malaysia. It takes time and money to be able to reach out to the rural masses. In this state election, all the PR big guns campaigned heavily in the urban areas. The results showed it worked. PR leaders should go to the rural areas now to start off the GE 13 campaign. When they wait till the date is announced, they themselves will be busy with their own individual areas. Internet is only accessible in urban areas. Even if they can get it in rural areas they would not be able to afford it. PR can start their campaign by getting several doctors/medical personnel to visit the rural areas and conduct health checks free of charge. In this way you get to know the villagers and they get to know you too. You can also provide reading material or simple toys for the children. Provide sewing machines and teach the people to sew and make a small living. Instead of giving cash, pigs, beers, etc, these suggestions would be more useful and could help change their hard lives in the interior.
At the end of the day, as things stand, it all boils down to money and who has the most of it to dish out. Now you understand why BN is ever so powerful in Sarawak and is referred to as its fixed deposit. In a way, PR failed to understand the people. They rely on their advisers who are mainly educated and sitting behind the desk in an air-conditioned office. They listen to political scientist/analyst/observers and armchair ‘experts’.
One point of interest in this state election, is that lawyers like Baru Bian, See Chee How, etc got voted in but they kicked out doctors including George Chan, Chris Kiyui, Michael Teo….. Perhaps when there is a shortage of doctors in the state, the people prefer them to remain as doctors – not as politicians – and help patients instead.
The key to change in Sarawak now is with a change of government in the federal level. Not the other way round. And the key to Putrajaya will be the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak.

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This is an inspiring letter to Malaysiakini:


Agik Idup, Agik Ngelaban!

Gerakan K

2/3 for BN, 100% for Mr Taib’s PBB. Enough said. That slogan “tak laku” !!!


i agree wholeheartedly with the writer of the letter. I posted my comments in Nathaniel’s blog before about winning the rural folk (the Orang Asli in Sabah and Sarawak), that is, the poor need to be fed first and clothed and their thirst need to be quenched. At first, i was angry with them but on second thought, can i blame them for STILL voting BN. Maybe i should understand their predicament – their poverty and their insecurity. It is indeed very silly of the Pakatan politicians to talk about fairness and justice to the Ibans and Dayaks, etc because… Read more »

Christine Yong

PR to start projects now to help the ppl. Microfinancing their plantations, teach them to work hard and not to be lazy during free time. Open their eyes to what the world can offer if they are willing to improve and upgrade themselves!! Give them opportunities!!


You should take the first step by volunteering your service to venture into the deep jungle of Sarawak to educate the folks.

A lot of talk but no action.
Pakatan needs people who can assist with action, not words alone.


Well I personally think everyone in the PR camp knows the problem. But I think no one knows quite well how to deal with it. It’s easy to say PR needs to do more work in rural areas, PR doesn’t know how rural works yada yada, but let’s be real, how do you find the money to actually venture deep into the rural areas (which at times you’ll need to use helicopter to access) for five years? And who would want to do that for five years (without a single cent paid)? These are the questions popping into my head… Read more »


The whole thing boils down to dignity. If the rural folks in Sarawak do not the dignity to stand up, then nothing can be done. It they have lost their souls, then their land be continued to be grabbed by pek moh. Where is the … spirit. This must be revived in Sarawak. Only then can change happen.

richard s

PR should start looking at Selangor gold mine of Malaysia, as a voter in Selangor who voted PR in last GE, and now I have no faith in PR except DAP, i didnt see much improvement done in Kota Damansara and PJ area by PAS and PKR, and all the elected ADUN and MP no where near be found when we have problem and needed them, the local council administration is as bad as previous BN govt. I guess come next election i will be another fence sitter like many of my friends.
Watch out for GE13.


hi Richard, as for me even if PR didnt do a good job this term i will still vote for PR instead of BN unless you and your friends are very happy with Toyo making another mansion, happy seeing Taib and family scrapping the wealth of Sarawak away, let Beng Hock die just like that because he is not our brother or maybe you enjoy seeing our judiciary keeps rotting and the biasness of Police, etc etc etct, then, by all means vote for BN. I find it very funny people seem to be very critical of Pakatan government when… Read more »

Gerakan K

Don’t preserve the “kayu” lah. The “kayu” have to go.


With the exception of the goodies during “durian runtuh” time, there is one disturbing common trait among elected reps, be they BN or PR, they are not to be seen or heard after a GE, in their own constituency. I spoke to Tony Pua a couple of times when I met him at those fund raising dinners, and his response was: “What, you expect me to go around the coffee shops shaking hands ah?” That was a response one would not expect from an MP who graduated from Oxford. In reality no one expects an MP, also fondly known as… Read more »


We all agree that we need to reach out to the rural folks/forest dwellers. The Green Party involvment is ideal, but it will only take off if and when somebody steps forward to head this initiative. In the meantime, the PR leaders could and should work on how to provide these rural folks with the two most basic needs – affordable electricity and clean water. I had read about some solar energy project in one of the villages, set up to the tune of some tens of millions (please correct me if wrong). Can PR improve on the cost investment… Read more »


It will be difficult to win their hearts if the village heads are involved. They are mini BN branch officers, in a way. Money still play a major role, just look at the independent who won. But yes, improving the village’s livelihood will help gain trust. There also has to have a better way to monitor the voting process to prevent accessive cheating.


BN is smart to control/utilize the penghulu who in turn manipulated the rest to vote for BN. Under such BN tactics, we can be sure that the rural people will not be given good education (let alone internet access) in order for them to blindly follow BN.

One way to overcome this is to expose to the rural people that the penghulus … got more than their share.

James Bond

This article suggests that Dayaks will sell their principles for money , if it means their bibles are trampled on…..

I dont see it happenig in Sarawak….to use poverty repeatedly to cllect RM10 rinngit and a bottle of Tuak appears to be the way to go for Sarawakians….they will forever remain poor…


It is always the same story. The rural population is left out. It is only when the elections are near when they meet the YBs and I mean it for both sides of the fence. The opposition is not making any headway in rural areas because they don’t really bother until the last moment. How can they make inroads here if their approach is so insincere? The situation is similar in the peninsular. I really wonder if there has been any progress since the last GE12. Come the next GE13, we will know if Pakatan Rakyat has done their homework.… Read more »


For the sake of coming Parlimental seats, those rural people in Sarawak must SEE (seeing is believing) (the Taib family’s)… property in Australia, Canada, UK and USA at http://www.sarawakreport.org.

Please print out those property in booklet and download to laptops and bring to EACH long house head to let them see Taib’s (family wealth)..

Lawan tetap lawan (like Anwar said). We msut fight corroption of Barisan until the end using small and convention steps: print out (the Taib family’s) property portfolia in booklet format and give to each longhouse head.

Gerakan K

No point for making more allegations against Mr Taib. He will retire soon.

See ??? How poor the pr strategists !!!


The poor strategy of PR is they campaign with sweat and tears from donation free from corruption.

The good strategy of … Bn is they campaign with (alleged) corruptible and the rakyat money

Gerakan K

In pr there are plenty of general wannabe and not many foot soldiers. I think that pr have to make decision that to put the strongest generals in Sarawak and Sabah. For a start, send LGE to Sarawak and LKS to Sabah as state chief. Then open service centre for each DUN and provide services to the local people 24/7 a year. Then people will see your determination and sincerity. Forget about the CM post as long as the pr HQ can offer equal $$$ compensation. Only supplying empty promises during campaigning times will not convince the local people. Learn… Read more »


There is none the worse wannabe than you GK


In pr there are plenty of general wannabe and not many foot soldiers. They have foot soldiers all right. They do have plenty of city foot soldiers who go to kampung and tell the kampung people something like “You are stupid, I am smart. You must listen to me because you stupid people may learn something from me. If you do not listen to me you will regret it” Every time after the election you can see them pr supporters blaming the “stupid/ignorant/brainless kampung people” for their loss. Pr and its machais never blame themselves for being arrogant. They blame… Read more »

Gerakan K

+1 for your comment. Mind you, I rarely thumb up/down any comment.

Your statement:
“You are stupid, I am smart. You must listen to me because you stupid people may learn something from me. If you do not listen to me you will regret it”

is absolutely CORRECT !!!

Andrew I

You rarely thumb up/down any comment because this democratic system usually puts you in the drawer.

How can you participate in something that you obviously detest?

Gerakan K

Still feel the pain in Sarawak defeat ???

2/3 for BN, TKO for Pas, DCM for SUPP made you mentally unstable ??? See open lah my friend.

Something special is coming soon. It makes me so happy.

Andrew I

I know cheating to win makes you happy.


Supply empty promises is not so worse asn corrupting the country and people.

Gerakan K

Jangan tipu lah. Empty promises itu = tipu. Macam Kg Buah Pala. Tipu pun awak kata OK. Sigh ~

Andrew I

Saying you’ve never met someone before when you have = tipu.


Promising and getting a 750,000 house and cash incentive for the KBP is not tipu.

Misleading the KBP people that they can get 3 million and failing is not just tipu but a mother of swindler.


Your correspondent is still suggesting that PR beat BN at their own game: giving beads. I’d like to see a Green Party campaign in rural Malaysia on a ‘give them back their ancestral lands’ agenda. I think such a party should seek to gazette large tracts of rural Malaysia as ‘heritage forest’ (possibly even using ‘Malay reserve’ legislation, but reserving it as a national treasure) and prohibit land ownership and industrial agriculture within, creating a large number of paid ‘stewardship’ positions so that the resident communities can perform simple ecological monitoring and agency in return for reasonable pay. Such an… Read more »