1. What are the top three issues facing Sarawak at the moment?
2. What key issue will most impact on your vote on in the forthcoming state election?
3. Will the issues at Federal level have any impact here on the Sarawak election?
4. What would you like the political parties to do about these three issues?
I was asked the above questions today as part of a short interview.
Here is my long answer.
Three key issues facing Sarawak at this moment.
1. Bread and butter issues.
Yes, after 52 years of independence and under the governance of the great and wonderful Barisan Nasional government, we are still grappling with bread and butter issues. And this bread and butter issues will spill over to other pertinent issues which are interrelated like public infrastructure and development issues, access to basic utilities like water and power, good roads and bridges, affordable health services and good education and cost of living. Oh, poverty and inequality as well. We can frame all these issues under the bread and butter issues.
Autonomy. State powers. Empowering the state for participation and decision making process when it comes to state affairs. It goes back to the Malaysian Agreement 1963 signed during the formation of Malaysia, and Sarawak being one of the willing signatory with mutually agreed terms and conditions to safeguard the interests of the state. This is actually getting traction after all the Sarawak for Sarawakians call and many Sarawakians feel that Sarawak is being shortchanged by the Federal Government in areas like job opportunities and career advancement for the locals in state agencies and public offices, oil royalty, budget allocations and lack of consultation with the state when it comes to policies decided at the Federal level for state affairs. But I feel that this is just a carrot by Adenan for the middle class, urban voters because the idea of autonomy is so attractive to them. As a result, they focus more on this and less on other issues on national level they typically more concerned on.”As least he is doing it for the best of Sarawakians”, you are hearing that now. Sarawak or Malaysia? Sarawak is part of Malaysia. Do not get confused.
3. Corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, leakages, wastage, regressive, repressive, divisive and stupid policies, the whole issue of good governance. Actually all the corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, leakages, regressive, repressive, divisive and stupid policies can be resolved with good governance. Can add in Native Customary Rights Land issue somewhere here as well. Heck, all the other issues above, the whole bread and butter issues and call for greater state autonomy can be solved with good governance. We will come to this later, in a bit.
Key issue that will most impact my vote in the forthcoming state election will be issue number 3. Good governance. With good and responsible government, leaders that care and honest in doing their jobs, right people in public offices, institutions and agencies to safeguard our interests, we will have less of these issues.
We cannot eliminate all the bread and butter issues, nor the abuse of trust and promises, corruption, mismanagement, wastage, regressive, repressive and stupid policies because this is not an ideal world. But we will have very less of these problems we are facing now.
Why are we still focusing on bread and butter issues after 52 years under BN? We praise BN come every election when they dish out instant noodles allocations and pork barreling for new roads, schools, hospitals, funds, donations and all other goodies. Shouldn’t these things been done all this while and not during election time? Why the Pan Borneo Expressway planning and construction takes so long to be realised? Incompetence? Is it we do not have the money and resources to do it? Why all the big infrastructure projects only given to the certain same companies? Corruption? Where is our oil, palm oil and timber money? Mismanagement? Why the gap between the poor and rich is so big in Sarawak? What the state leaders have been doing all this while, to allow erosion of our state powers that we need to make a stand and negotiate for it now? Why didn’t they fight for it before? Have they been sleeping on the job?
Will the issues at the Federal level have any impact here on the Sarawak election? Sadly, from my observation, the issues at the Federal level will not have very much impact here except for the urban voters. It is only good for coffee shop talk.
1MDB? Adenan Satem is fast to distance himself from the issue saying it has nothing to so with Sarawak and that is a smart political move. Because it should matter. All the things that happened in Federal will affect us in Sarawak because we don not live in isolation. Goods and Services Tax, that was decided at the Federal level and pretty damn sure that is affecting the people of Sarawak now. The 1MDB scandal implicating the very person this state government is supporting and dealing with, how is that not affecting us? The decision to use Tabung Haji money to ‘bail out’ 1MDB, how is that not affecting people in Sarawak who have deposits in Tabung Haji? And that was decided at what level? The appointment of the AG that also has his hands in the Allah and bible issue, that is not affecting us here? The appointment of the next Bank Governor, that doesn’t concern the people of Sarawak?
We have been fed lies and disinformation that issues happening at the Federal level will have no impact to the state of Sarawak. Do you pay tax to the government? Do you send your kids to schools, universites here? Do you buy car and house here? Do you live and work here? It is still Sarawak, Malaysia. Unless we go for Republic of Sarawak.
Lastly, what would you like the political parties to do about these three issues? Nothing. But I want the people to start questioning. And take charge. Take ownership of this state and country. Be a responsible citizen and carry out your due duties. Question everything. Be a learned and educated voter. Look for consistency when judging a person or any entity. Match talks with actions. And vote wisely this coming election. Give yourself a chance to make it right.