Thursday, 11 June 2015

Sabah and Sarawak saviours, not fixed deposits, says academic

Describing voters in Sabah and Sarawak as "fixed deposits" for Barisan Nasional (BN) is degrading, an academic said, adding that the Bornean states were better called "saviours" of the ruling coalition.

University Putra Malaysia's politics and government expert professor Dr Jayum Anak Jawan said Sabah and Sarawak had time and again ensured Malay politics in the states survived for BN, which would otherwise be faring worse in elections.

"Sabah and Sarawak are not a fixed deposit, I think that is very degrading.

"Please don't use fixed deposit. Sabah and Sarawak are the saviour of a sunken ship. Without Sabah and Sarawak, Barisan Nasional is no where. We have been saving West Malaysian politics for more or less three or four times in history," he said at a conference today.

"Before this, we came over to save Malaya from the emergency in 1948. In 1963, we came to ensure Malay politics remained, as our population was to balance the Chinese population in Singapore," Jayum said, referring to the formation of Malaysia in 1963 when Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore came together. Singapore left the federation two years later.

Jayum said BN's political problems were race-based between the Malay and Chinese votes and had little to do with Sarawak and the Dayaks –  the broad term used to collectively describe the indigenous people of the state.

"This is all Malay-Chinese problem, it is not a Sarawak and Dayak problem, but we have been coming to resolve, to bring peace between these two political warring ethnic groups," he said at a conference called "The 13th Malaysian General Elections: The Sarawak Perspective" in Kuala Lumpur.

Jayum said Sabah and Sarawak had again saved Malay politics in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, when BN leaders began using the term "fixed deposit" to describe the east Malaysian states which remained with the ruling coalition despite inroads by the opposition.

Jayum also said later during a question-and-answer session that it was unreasonable for Sabah and Sarawak's citizens to say they were still undeveloped, since they had chosen to vote for BN all this while.

"Is that the fault of federal government or the fault of state government, or your own fault?

"If the representation from Sabah and Sarawak is unfair, why do Sabah and Sarawak people still stay in Barisan Nasional?

"If Sabah and Sarawak says that they are unfairly treated, yet keep on telling the people that we still (lag) behind, then what are (we) doing in Barisan Nasional the last 50 years?" Jayum said.

On that score, Jayum said he agreed with other analysts that BN would win the upcoming Sarawak elections, except for seats in urban Chinese areas which have swung to the opposition in recent polls.

But he also predicted a rough ride for BN now that greater political awareness had come to the Dayaks.

"The state elections will be challenging. I don't expect the state BN to lose, but I'm not sure whether they will be able to keep their two-thirds majority because the focus now is on the Dayaks," he said.

Dayak seats form some 45% of state seats in Sarawak, and Jayum said more natives were beginning to realise that there was nothing wrong in voting against the ruling party or government.

He said this "wind of change" among the Dayaks was coming from the younger generation, who were more politically aware and informed of their rights.

He said this would not have much impact on the coming state polls which must be held by August 2016, as such awareness was still new, but he believed it was an indication of things to come. – June 9, 2015.



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