Sibu voters roar, BN whimpers

Sibu started with a bang from Barisan Nasional. Now there's barely a whisper. The BN team packed their bags and quietly left before the results were announced on Sunday evening. There was minimal coverage of the results in the main media, as with a nightmare BN were eager to forget.
Left behind in their wake are promises that may remain unfulfilled. But promises not kept will become lies: were Najib Tun Razak and crew lying when they promised RM18 million for Chinese schools, RM1.7 million for churches and RM5 million for flood mitigation projects?

If Hulu Selangor was a show of the democratic process gone right (in the minds of the Barisan Nasional) what then is Sibu? Democracy gone wrong, all because Barisan Nasional lost? Perhaps that is why, acting like sore losers, they left town without so much as a squeak.

If past records are anything to go by, little will remain of BN promises after losing a vote. The reality is that defeat turns promises into instruments with which to punish hapless voters who voiced their views through the democratic process.

In fact, Sibu voters showed the democratic process at its finest: rising above "money politics", the voters chose justice and good governance, opting for change in the only way they knew possible, via the ballot box.

Rather than being sore losers, the BN should be benevolent winners even in defeat.

The message was clear. The people of Sibu had had enough. The rhetoric of the SUPP failed to show up the other story, the disparity between Chinese and non-Chinese. Why were there paved roads into Chinese communities and gravel roads to the rural Iban longhouses? Why were urban Malays sidelined in business deals? And even among the Chinese, why was favour shown to those affiliated to the Sarawak Chief Minister? Where was the development promised from the previous election?

Blatant abuse of power, and corruption among the leaders, had left a bitter taste among Sibuans. The rally for better governance and an end to corruption was building slowly and the whisper campaign reached Najibs' ears.

Najib knew all about this. He was very much forewarned that this was the sentiment of the people in Sibu.

They were not against 1Malaysia or the Prime Minister. In fact he was a favorite of Sibuans. It was not the federal government (in general) that they did not favour, the state authority and specifically its head, Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. This was a feeling strongly held among voters, both in urban Sibu and rural Sibu.

Taib has been in power for 29 years, too long for the liking of most residents of Sarawak. And this had been privately conveyed to Najib in a close-door meeting. No amount of promising could quell the growing resentment of Taib. Too long, too much. The DAP motto of "Vote for Change" was a welcome respite from the over-used BN cry of "Vote for development".

Sibuans voted for justice, for equality and an end to the economics of disparity. The 4% drop in Iban votes was cushioned by the 3% increase in votes to DAP from the Malay-Melanau voters. Among the Chinese, DAP's support increased by 10% to 68%, from 58% at the previous election. Lim Guan Eng said "the people created this miracle for Sibu".

Najib should now own up to all that he promised, and show that the Federal Government has the welfare of the people at heart, regardless of political affiliation, and that of any political party. Most of all it must be clearly seen that the money should not benefit Taib Mahmud.

This will be the test for Najib, with the eyes of the people of Sarawak firmly fixed on him. Otherwise Sarawak voters will roar even louder at the next general election, with the call for change and good governance sounding in the other cities of Sarawak and among the king-makers in Malaysia.

That roar, when it comes, will turn many a wealthy politician into paupers.

Free Malaysia Today
19/05/10

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