Commentary Politics

Opposition gropes in the dark for answers

Sarawak remains firmly a Barisan Nasional territory.

Sarawak remains firmly a Barisan Nasional territory.

Written by Aziz Hassan

A commentary on the Sarawak state election, with inputs from Zaidi Azmi.

KUALA LUMPUR — May 10, 2016: AS the politics shifts to talk on the impending by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar following the unfortunate deaths of the Members of Parliaments there, the Malaysian political opposition must still be looking for answers to their very dismal outing in Sarawak last week.

Despite the increase in the number of constituencies from 71 in 2011 to 82 now, the opposition’s share instead declined — from 15 to 10, with the DAP losing five seats, from its 12 five years ago.

The opposition didn’t have a good start, failing to agree on a most fundamental factor when trying to unseat an existing government and on nomination day clashed among themselves in six constituencies, both PKR and DAP fielding candidates.

Thereafter the blame game started, with party officials insisting that each could do better if not for the fiasco.

We were to hear the blame game getting louder soon after the results were announced on Saturday evening but clearly the opposition politicians were groping in the dark and appeared to have failed to find the exit.

Could the Pakatan Harapan do better if they had not fouled up in the six constituencies? The results didn’t show any indication of this.

If they had put up only one candidate, a simple calculation shows that the combined support for the opposition would have seen them coming close only in Mambong, where the Barisan Nasional’s direct candidate Jerip Susil polled 6,161 against a combined total of 5,473 for the opposition.

In the five other seats, the BN’s victories were simply too overwhelming.

And so we move to support from the Chinese, especially in the urban seats. Based on previous elections, here is one area where BN was expected to be trounced.

But last Saturday was not to be and BN won handsomely in seven of 16 such constituencies.

Still one man in the DAP didn’t think this was good enough, Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen stating that “not many Chinese voted for BN”.

Really Chong?

You havew to simply work out the maths on the total number of non-Chinese voters in Batu Kitang, Dudong, Batu Kawah, Piasau, Bawang Assan, Repok and Meradong, especially in Bawang Assan and Repok, and the votes received by the BN candidates for an indication of how many Chinese votes swung to BN.

For two other opposition parties, PAS and its splinter Parti Amanah Negara, their foray into Sarawak cannot be good for the go. Amanah lost all 13 seats while PAS was knocked out in all 11. In 2011 PAS contested five and lost five.




About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.