Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sarawak ripe for political transformation.

The politics of Malaysia is condemned to be ethnic in nature. Much of the political discourse in our country is determined by the most dominant force in our land: the United Malays National Organisation (Umno). Everything political must be considered within Umno's parameters of racial balance.

Yet the racial imperative in Malaysia is perturbed, and unsettled, by the anomaly of the unique ethnic composition in Sarawak. By the logic of race, during the time of Merdeka, when Malaysian independence was achieved in 1963, the Master Race in Sarawak ought to have been the Iban.

After all, the Iban form 34 percent of Sarawak's population, and 'deserved' to be the dominant ethnic group in the state.

Indeed, from 1963 right up to 1970, the most powerful political office in the land, the Chief Minister's office, was occupied by an Iban politician from the multiracial Sarawak National Party (Snap), Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

This situation was obviously not satisfactory to Umno politicians, who saw themselves as the only legitimate representatives of national power. Umno's aim was the usurpation of the Iban pre-eminence in state politics.

This they achieved by virtue of engineering the collapse of the Ningkan government and the departure of Snap from the ruling state Alliance. Umno replaced Snap with another stop-gap Iban party, under Penghulu Tawi Sli, in 1970.

The general election in 1970 brought an opportunity for Umno to reclaim their position of Malay dominance in Malaysian politics. During the general election that year, the Sarawak Alliance and BN replaced the Iban chief minister with a Muslim Melanau, to occupy the prized seat of chief minister.

That was how Abdul Rahman Ya'akub, and later, his nephew Taib Mahmud, ascended to the supreme position of chief minister.

So, 1970 was a most momentous, even epoch-making general election, shortly after the racial violence in Kuala Lumpur was quelled. There was a realignment of national forces jostling for power in the aftermath of May 13, 1969.

The newly-formed BN roped in many of the opposition parties into the fold of the government, in the name of reducing political squabbling, ostensibly to concentrate on 'development'.

The pre-eminent opposition party in Sarawak, the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), manoeuvered itself into position as a member of the ruling Alliance, in support of Abdul Rahman Ya'akub's Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), lending great credence to the Alliance's image as a multiracial coalition.

PBB has complete dominance

PBB laid claim to automatic occupation of the office of the chief minister, thanks to the fact that it was a composite multiracial party, with a large chunk of its membership and leadership coming from the Iban, Malay and Melanau native groups of Sarawak.

It was only natural, in the context of racial politics, that the office of the chief minister had to be occupied by the leader of the PBB, Abdul Rahman. With many of Snap's leaders defecting to the Iban component of PBB, the weakened opposition party had to abdicate their political dominance, yielding power to the Alliance of Sarawak. That altered the power structure of Sarawak for the next 40 years.

The period between 1970 and 2000 was a long, continuous process of concentration of state power under the authority of the PBB faction within the ruling BN.

Thus the PBB, through a prolonged period of gerrymandering and new delineation of electoral boundaries, managed to consolidate their hold on the majority of native-dominated seats in the state assembly.

As of today, there are 35 seats in the state assembly to which the PBB can lay claim, out of the total number of 71 state constituencies up for grab. That means the PBB, on its own, can virtually hold state power without any help from any other parties, thus completing its total domination of local politics in Sarawak.

Against this rise of hegemonic power of PBB, the other components of the Sarawak BN have only waned in influence and prestige, over the past four decades.

In the year 2010, it would not be far from the truth to observe that Sarawak politics is dominated by the PBB. The PBB can rule Sarawak with minimal reference to other BN components.

That is how the virtual power of dictatorship is now concentrated in the hands of the PBB's CM Taib Mahmud. Within the realm of Sarawak, Taib Mahmud can do anything he pleases, and the state has no instruments of check and balance to curb his power.

But now, Sarawak may be due for a radical structural change, after four decades of BN monopoly. Taib Mahmud is showing his 74 years of age, the longest-serving national leader of the BN.

The next opportunity for change in Sarawak will be in the next half decade or so. Sarawak is now ripe for another wholesale transformation. As long as the problem of succession to Taib Mahmud remains uncertain and unknown, the coming decade will provide an opportunity for transition of power within the BN, as well as for the opposition coalition.

I would like to make my own political position clear here: I am personally against all politics of race, because I do not think there is such a 'thing' as a real 'race'. Our polity is made up of individuals, and not of races. The concept of race has no ontological basis.

By SIM KWANG YANG was member of parliament for Bandar Kuching, Sarawak from 1982 to 1995. He can be reached at All comments are welcomed.

Sarawak udah mansau ke ubah dalam pengawa bepolitik.

Pengawa politik di Malaysia dibantah ari ketegal ti kelalu ngering ke sebengkah-sebengkah raban bansa. Penemu politik dalam menoa kitai tu ditentu ke sebengkah kuasa ti kering agi jako: iya United Malays National Organisation (Umno). Semoa pekara ti bekaul enggau politik enda tau enda ngambi kira chara enggau gaya Umno nyemaka ke pengimbang pupu raban bansa.

Kaul ti manah beguna amat di Malaysia tang suah agi tau ngasoh kitai irau, ari ketegal enda besabi enggau pangan diri entara pupu raban bansa kelebih agi di Sarawak ditu. Enti dipeda enggau nyata ari sukut pupu bansa, kenyau ari Merdeka dalam taun 1963, raban bansa orang ti pemadu maioh di Sarawak tu iya nya Iban.

Bansa Iban bisi 34 peratus ari pemaioh tuboh orang ti nguan menoa Sarawak tu, lalu ‘dikira ke’ patut dikumbai bansa ti pemadu tampak.

Ketegal nya mih, kenyau ari 1963 ngagai 1970, upis politik ti pemadu bekuasa di menoa tu, Upis Kepala Menteri, udah endor siko orang politik bebansa Iban mangku pengawa, ti datai ari sebuah parti pupu raban bansa Sarawak National Party (SNAP), lalu orang nya benama Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

Pekara ti baka tu enda ngelantang ke ati bala orang politik Umno, ti ngasai ke sida aja ti ngembuan pengari ti nengkeman agi ba undang-undang menoa. Umno maia nya apin ulih nerima pemesai reti bansa Iban dalam politik menoa Sarawak.

Sida (Umno) lalu ngator chara dikena ngelaboh ke kuasa Ningkan lalu pia mega chara dikena muai SNAP ari perintah kunsi. Umno lalu nukar Snap enggau sebengkah parti Iban sementara ti betuai ke Penghulu Tawi Sli, dalam taun 1970.

Pengawa bepilih besai taun 1970 meri peluang ke Umno ngambi pulai penegap bansa Melayu dalam politik Malaysia. Maia pengawa bepilih nya, Perintah Kunsi Sarawak (Sarawak Alliance) enggau Barisan Nasional ngingkas Kepala Menteri Iban ti ditukar enggau siko bansa Melanau Muslim mangku pengawa ti endang aroh ati sida iya.

Baka nya mih chara Abdul Rahman Ya’akub, lalu udah nya Taib Mahmud megai kuasa ti pengabis tinggi di Sarawak, mangku pengawa nyadi kepala menteri.

Nya kebuah mega, taun 1970 nya mih pengawa bepilih ti besai amat reti ngagai rebak dudi, laban dulu ari tu penyarut entara raban bansa bisi nyadi di Kuala Lumpur. Nya mih maia menoa ngemetul ke kaul sekeda raban orang ti berebut ke kuasa rambau 13 Mei 1969.

Belaboh ari nya mih, BN ti baru betumboh lalu ngaul maioh parti-parti penyakal bekunsi niri ke perintah, dikena ngurang ke laya politik, lalu numpu ke runding soh pengawa ‘pemansang’.

Sebengkah pari penyakal di Sarawak maia nya, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), lalu dibai masuk ngagai perintah kunsi (Alliance), ti bulih sukong ari Abdul Rahman Ya’akub, kepala Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), ti lalu belaboh ari nya ngangkat ke pemanah nama kuasa perintah ari pupu parti raban bansa.

Parti PBB lalu netap ke ambu diri enda tau enda ngengkah ke siko ari kaban sida mangku pengawa kepala menteri, terima kasih ke penemu tu, laban PBB nya sebengkah parti pupu raban bansa ti datai ari bansa Iban, Melayu enggau Melanau.

Endang baka ti udah teleba ba sapa-sapa, lalu ba runding enggau penemu pasal politik pupu bansa, kepala menteri enda tau enda ari parti PBB, Abdul Rahman. Maioh agi bala kaban Snap masok ngagai PBB, ti lalu matah ke pengering raban penyakal, lalu udah nya ngenegap ke agi PBB di Sarawak. Tu mih ti ngubah kuasa pemerintah Sarawak ke 40 taun ti ka datai ila.

Timpoh maia ari 1970 ngagai 2000 udah chukop lama amat endor PBB bekuasa dalam BN.

Kenyau ari nya mega PBB lantang amat lalu udah ngena kuasa dalam perintah ngator semoa pengawa politik nyengkaum ngaga sempadan ngundi, dikena sida nambah ke pemaioh kaban lalu awak ke sida terus bekuasa nengah kandang menoa ti ditemu endor sida kering enggau tegap, ba Dewan Undangan Negeri.

Ke sari tu dalam Dewan Undangan Negeri PBB bisi 35 ari 71 iti kerusi nitih ke sempadan-sempadan ti udah digaga. Tu mai reti PBB endang ulih bekuasa enggau enda iboh dibantu parti-parti bukai dalam BN, lalu tu mega ngujong ke PBB besai agi raban dalam politik menoa Sarawak.

Dikena nagang pengangkat kuasa PBB, parti-parti bukai dalam BN Sarawak semina dipeda majak lemi-selemi, dalam sengelama 40 taun tu.

Dalam taun 2010 tu, kitai mega agi mengkang meda PBB terus bekuasa dalam perintah Sarawak taja pan enda disukong parti-parti kaban BN ke bukai.

Tu mih siti chara Taib Mahmud udah ulih terus megai kuasa dalam perintah, ari ti nengah pemaioh kerusi enggau sempadan di digaga PBB. Dalam perintah menoa Sarawak, Taib Mahmud ulih ngereja sebarang pengawa nunda ke peneka iya empu, lalu menoa Sarawak mengkang enda ulih mantah tau ke ngemetul ke iya.

Tang diatu Sarawak deka enggau naka ulih ngiga chara berubah, udah PBB bekuasa sengelama 40 taun. Taib Mahmud deka ngayan ke umor diri 74 taun, dipeda siko tuai BN ti pengabis lama bekuasa.

Peluang berubah di menoa Sarawak belaboh ari diatu ngagai lima taun da agi, tau ke lebih. Diatu Sarawak udah chukop ‘mansau’ tau ke chukop ‘tuai’ endor berubah, tau ke ngubah diri. Seagi-agi penanggol ba pengawa ngiga sapa ti tau nukar Taib, 10 taun ti ka datai tu meri awak ke kitai peluang meda ubah kuasa dalam BN, lalu pia ga meda gaya penyakal bekereja entara sida sama sida.

Ditu aku deka mansut ke penemu politik diri: ba aku empu, aku endang nyakal penemu politik sebansa aja, laban ba penemu aku, di menoa tu nadai sebengkah bansa ti amat-amat. Politik kitai tu datai ari orang siko-siko, lalu enda patut ari sebengkah raban bansa aja.

Ditulis SIM KWANG YANG, siko kaban parlimen Bandar Kuching ari 1982 ngagai 1995.


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