MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Why there is less political tension in Sarawak


It has been said that without fighting, squabbling and politicking in the political arena, it isn’t politics at all.

No, this is not a joke and it isn’t funny. We have cause for concern when we know that there are Malaysian politicians who think that just because they are involved in politics, it’s their job to indulge in politicking, the more intense the better.

Then, there are also those who are proud to proclaim that they are taught well to be spiteful, vengeful and dirty in politics. And they take great pleasure to brag about such notoriety. Better believe this too for you get all types of characters in the political arena.

Really, that is so childish and pathetic but the politicians are unable to judge themselves, thinking that they are never wrong. God help us if these are the people who desire to lead the nation.

Many of us could still recall when two leaders of the same party slugged it out in Parliament in the most shameful manner, only to hug and kiss later outside the august House.

Now, one of them has declared that he would be contesting for a key post in his party, bragging that party grassroots wanted him to play a more prominent role.

What? My sympathy to the well-meaning party loyalist and this long-time leading party if this fella is ever elected to a top post in time to come.

Seriously, it isn’t only politicking that we should worry about. If known shady characters and self-serving candidates are elected to key party posts and later to senior cabinet positions, then we have real, tough issues to face.

Why should anyone be surprised that intense politicking still persists when there is already a truce between the ruling coalition and the opposition?

At best, I think the memorandum of understanding (MOU) offers short-term stability to our politics, no matter how victorious Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his “Keluarga Malaysia” team seemed to emerge from the deal.

With so much mistrust between both sides, and the “no Anwar, no DAP” policy conveniently chucked aside when it suits those in power, I do not see the MOU lasting more than six months or at the longest, a year.

Localised emergency

In many ways, I am very glad that Sarawak has been spared the unending political wrangling that we are witnessing at federal level.

The GPS government and opposition in Sarawak have been quite accommodating with each other.

An example is when the localised emergency was declared for Sarawak from Aug 2 to Feb 2 next year in order to stop the state election during a pandemic, both sides were on board.

That was the only sensible route to take. Sarawak has learned from the disastrous Sabah election in September last year.

A separate law was also published in the federal gazette to give power to the incumbent GPS-led state government to continue functioning.

The Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021 states that for as long as the Sarawak emergency is in force, the dissolution of the state assembly shall have no effect.

It must also be noted that the localised emergency may be lifted earlier if its population is fully vaccinated by October or as and when it is “declared safe” to stage the election.

As a Sarawakian, I am pleased that both sides of the political divide have not been at each other’s throats as forcefully as they were in previous elections. If there was any of the usual tit-for-tat feuds, it was clearly muted.

Why is this so? I suppose Sarawakians as a whole are hardly interested in paying attention to the political bouts when they have the pandemic and issues of life and death to worry about.

Milder and less personal

On this subject of politicking, it is only fair of me to state that there is generally less political stress and tension in Sarawak. In a lot of ways, Sarawak politics is milder and less personal.

As far as the GPS ministers in the federal cabinet are concerned, it is clear that when it comes to the crunch, they have only one boss – Sarawak Chief Minister and GPS chairperson Abang Johari Openg – and not Ismail Sabri or till last month, Muhyiddin Yassin.

We do not serve two bosses, one of the ministers confided in me in the early part of the Perikatan Nasional administration led by Muhyiddin.

It has been made clear that GPS will go into any coalition as a team and they will exit as a team. None of their MPs in the federal cabinet today are known party-hoppers or political frogs.

Another key factor why there is less political tension in Sarawak is the absence of Umno. PAS and Bersatu, both of which have a presence in Sarawak, are relatively weak. I do not expect them to make any headway in my home state, at least not in the immediate future.

I have said this before and I will repeat it. Happily, for Sarawak, we have fewer of the “troublesome” politicians than we see in Malaya. I like to think that we are more focused on battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Except for the small group in Pakatan Harapan in Sarawak, the bulk of the opposition comprise people who were in the government before.

They are not exactly the usual opposition folks in the first place and hence, less aggressive than the hardened opposition boys.

I expect the coming 12th Sarawak state election to be a muted and tame affair. Voter turnout, if held within the next six months, is also expected to be exceptionally low.

You heard it from me. I don’t think I will fly home to Kuching to cast my vote if it’s held in the midst of a pandemic. - Mkini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of “Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan”. Obtain autographed copies from sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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