MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Malaysian Election: A Tale of Two States

Sabah and Sarawak are famous for rainforest retreats and the endangered orangutan, but they could also hold the key to power when Malaysians go to the polls on May 5.

Battleground Sarawak.

Malaysia's opposition party is hoping to tap into Indigenous voters in Sarawak to help jostle the ruling party out of power.
The states of Sabah and Sarawak were given more national seats than any other state when Malaysia became a federation in 1963 to entice the regions to join, and the states could decide the outcome of the election.
Dr Jenri Amir, from the University of Malaysia, says there are 31 seats up for grabs in Sarawak.
"It's very important for the Prime Minister (Najib Razak) to ensure they win more than 20 seats in Sarawak, to ensure they can win the Federal Government," he said.
The seats have traditionally fallen the way of the ruling coalition - Barisan Nasional.

The Indigenous vote

But the Opposition believes the Iban people - the famed former headhunters of Borneo - are an untapped reservoir of votes and could change that.
Opposition candidates have been campaigning hard for Iban votes and according to Dr Amir the Opposition may have an in.
In a traditional Iban village everyone lives under one roof in a longhouse, and there are over 5,000 of these longhouses across the state.
"I think the mother of all issues among the Iban voters is of course NCR land - Native Customary Rights land, whereby they apply for this land," he said.
"The government didn't give the title to this land, instead most of this land was given to proxy companies or companies related to the Chief Minister of Sarawak."
The Chief Minister is Taib Mahmud who belongs to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and has held the position since 1981.
Video of relatives and business associates of the Chief Minister trying to arrange crooked land deals for their own financial gain has been made public.
Mr Mahmud denies any wrongdoing on his part.
"If they are trying to create something, find something more credible, they are trying to frame people like me with evidence that can be interpreted by anybody," he said.
Despite the denials, the scenario doesn't look good for the party.
But will it be enough to swing Iban voters?
Iban leaders have refused to talk about politics on camera and the remote nature of their lifestyles means many ordinary Iban people may not have heard the accusations to begin with.

Battleground Sabah.

In the other half of Malaysian Borneo in Sabah, the Opposition also needs to make massive in roads in order to topple the Government.
Sabah has 25 Federal seats and at the last election the ruling coalition snapped up 24 of them.
Arnold Puyok is a political analyst from Sabah.
"So that's why Sabah is considered kingmaker this time around because it wants to retain the number of seats it won in 2008."
To hold onto the iron grip in the region Barisan Nasional candidates are spending big - but cash incentives don't necessarily buy votes here.
Immigration and border control are the main talking points.

Deadly clashes

For decades thousands of Muslims from the Philippines and Indonesia have settled in Sabah, changing the religious, economic and political balance an unsettling locals.
Last year, the Government agreed to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the immigration issue.
But sensitivities about foreign workers and illegal immigrants hit a new boiling point earlier in the year when more than 200 men from the Southern Philippines landed on Sabah's east coast and laid claim to the region.
The "Sulu Incursion" ended in an armed conflict that left 60 of the rebels and 10 Malaysian security forces personnel dead.
It is an incident that shook the locals and its unclear how that will play out when locals vote on Sunday.(ABC)

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