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Sunday, September 30, 2001

Sarawak sends a strong signal

By A. Kadir Jasin

WHILE the Sarawak Barisan Nasional's victory in this week's election was a foregone conclusion, the extent of its success still caught a lot of people by surprise.

Winning 60 out of 62 seats, it literally wiped out the Opposition. From a strength of five, the Opposition was reduced to two — one DAP and one independent.

In the process, it humiliated Pas and Parti Keadilan Nasional, the two other national parties which took part in the polls, and silenced local opponents.

They not only walked away emptyhanded, but with empty pockets as well. As much as a third of their candidates lost their deposits.

Pas, which contested three seats, did badly, losing not only to the BN but garnering less votes than Keadilan in one of the consituencies where both parties took on the BN.

This was despite the visit to the State by the party's three top leaders — its president Datuk Fadzil Mohd Nor, Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang.

Pas' newsletter Harakah prematurely declared Bulan Mula Mengambang Di Sarawak (the moon — the party's symbol — is beginning to shine in Sarawak).

Keadilan, which fielded 25 candidates, also fared badly. Its candidates not only lost to the BN, but trailed the DAP and the independents in many constituencies.

With the DAP and Pas having parted company over the issue of Islamic State, Keadilan's role as the matchmaker of the Alternative Front is also certain to diminish.

The DAP, which had hoped to gain Chinese support with its withdrawal from the Opposition front, did worse than in the 1996 State election when it won three seats.

The outcome of the election not only confirmed the popularity of the Sarawak BN, but sent a strong signal to the national parties, including members of the BN, that the Sarawak people like the way things are.

Unlike other State BN, the Sarawak BN is composed exclusively of Sarawak-based political parties — PBB, SUPP, SNAP and PBDS. They in turn represent the State's diverse ethnic and tribal groups.

There is nothing to suggest that this will change in the foreseeable future. In fact, the attempts by certain individuals in the State to implicate Umno in their bid for power, could have strengthened the support for the State BN, in particular the Malay and Melanau-based PBB.

While taking utmost care to maintain a close link with the Federal Government and the BN at the centre, the Sarawak BN leaders are fiercely independent.

By guaranteeing conclusive victories for the BN at the State and national elections, the Sarawak BN leaders have clinched for themselves an unassailable position in national politics while at the same time reinforcing their "independence".

The credit for this goes to Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. Although there have been complaints about his style and his long tenure, he delivers. This week's victory is as much a burden as it is a reward for Taib.

Apart from managing the economy of the State, his equally urgent task is to ensure that he not only has a capable successor, but one who is capable of maintaining the good relations that exist between the State and the centre.

Source: New Straits Times

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Sunday, September 30, 2001

  • Voters give opposition the boot
  • Barisan ‘brand’ strikes the right chord
  • Sarawak sends a strong signal
  • Winners must prove their worth
  • All abuzz over Judat’s victory
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