KUCHING - The Bersih rally for free and fair elections has done a lot of damage to the credibility of the present government, more than what the government would care to admit.
Most Sarawakians who tend to take a backseat where national issues are concerned have woken up after the Bersih walk for clean and fair elections held on July 9. Of course, no one is saying they have been inspired to the point that they are willing to buy the yellow Bersih T-shirt and are ready to rush off to join the next protest.
But certainly, they are interested. Their fancy has been tickled and they are keeping track of what's going on. In fact, there are many debates and 'theories' about what will happen to the BN coalition that has governed the country for the past 5 decades, and in particular, Prime Minister Najib Razak.
When contacted by Malaysia Chronicle, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said the rally was indeed an eye opener. He had led a team to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the rally and he was amazed at the unity of the people who were there.
Baru is now very doubtful of the control Najib has over the running of the country.
"He is so fickle-minded. One minute, he agreed to allow the Bersih organizers to use the stadium, then he chased them to the streets. How can a PM go against his own words. That decision of his cost a lot of fence sitters to join the Bersih Walk for Democracy," he reckoned.
Will Muhyiddin make a better PM
However, Baru was not so sure if the July 9 rally would affect the State government, and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's hold on power. Baru believes that in Sarawak, it will be a different ball game.
According to him, in Sarawak, especially amongst the rural people, the trigger for change would still hinge on local issues, unlike the urban folk who have access to online news and can assess the performance of the Najib administration versus the governments of the First World nations.
Nonetheless, he expects the winds of change to eventually blow into the interior regions if not immediately. The people must understand that whatever policies made by the federal government will affect their lifestyles here, Baru pointed out.
State assemblyman for Batu Lintang, See Chee How said Najib's flip-flop over allowing the Bersih rally to gather in the stadium has irreparably dented his credibility but the PM still did not realize this. Or was intentionally pretending not to notice it.
See warned that "at this rate", Najib will not last long.
"He inherited the Cabinet, most of whom are not on his side and the people do not warm to him," See told Malaysia Chronicle.
He sees Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin taking over as the next PM, but does see any improvement for Malaysia if it happened.
"He is a hardcore UMNO leader and has the former premier, Dr Mahathir, behind him. Dr M wants to make sure his son, Mukhriz, gets a bonus in the cabinet. This lot is not concerned about the people at all," See lamented.
Different impact on Sarawakians and on Taib
Baru echoed See's views. He does did not think that Muhiyddin will make a good PM or provide any special benefit to Sarawakians although the internal strife in UMNO due to Najib's disastrous handling of the rally will make Chief Minister Taib happy.
"There are lots of better PM material in the Pakatan Rakyat," said Baru.
With Najib out of the way, See said it would be good for Taib to have Muhyddin as the next PM.
According to See, Muhyiddin seems to be able to get along better with Taib, maybe because the Johore leader tended to eye Taib's enormous wealth less than Najib and wife Rosman Mansor.
"The internal squabbles of UMNO will also please Taib because it means they will have to concentrate on their own problems rather than try to penetrate into Sarawak," See said.
Loss of common sense and power-crazed
DAP's Chong Chieng Jen said the writing was on the wall for UMNO. To him, the most "idiotic" aspect of the entire Bersih fiasco was the arrest of anyone caught wearing a Bersih T-shirt.
"What with PM and Home Minister playing the good guy-bad guy with the stadium, in the end, it only shows no sincerity at all in the BN government. This government has lost its common sense in its chase for power. It has become power crazy," said Chong.
He shared Baru and See's opinion in that Najib's replacement by Muhyiddin or any other UMNO leader would not do "anything" for the country. There would be no real reforms as they were all birds of the same feather.
The Rosmah factor and the blessing of Bersih
Meanwhile, PKR vice chairman of the Women's wing, Voon Shiak Ni, said people are also uncomfortable with Najib's wife Rosmah and her famed love for luxury and shopping sprees.
According to Voon, Rosmah is a liability to Najib with her crave for publicity and her flamboyant life style. The latest scandal of how she allegedly blew RM24.4 million on a huge diamond ring has made the people really angry.
"She should go to the longhouses and see for herself how Sarawakians live, not the longhouses that are arranged to be nice for her to visit," said Voon.
She added that the amount Rosmah spent on the jewelry was more than enough to build a good tar road to the longhouses and improve the lives of thousands of the poor in the rural areas.
The Bersih walk, she said, triggered off awareness for more than free and fair elections. People are now demanding more from the government. They want to get rid of corruption, cronyism, increase productivity and efficiencyt.
"The BN must work for the people and not the people work for the BN," she pointed out.
Sarawakians, she added, especially the youngsters are now more aware that they have to take an interest in politics or be left without any say in their own future.
However, only time can tell how the chips will evcentually fall. But there is one thing the Sarawak Pakatan leaders have gauged correctly. Post-Bersih, more Malaysians across the nation's 13 states including the Land of the Hornbill are now politicially inclined and that is a good sign.