Monday, June 17, 2013

Money politics, threats dog Swak opposition

Joseph Tawie

June 17, 2013
According to reports from Sarawak PKR’s election officers, each village security committee were given RM8k–RM10k to ensure their respective longhouses voted for BN.
KUCHING:  Ground reports from  the 13th general  election has convinced the opposition here that “money politics is still very effective”  and that a cohesive early assault is now vital in rural areas.
Sarawak is expected to hold its state elections in 2016. In the 2011 state polls, Pakatan Rakyat swiped 15 seats from Barisan Nasional. PKR won three seats – Batu Lintang, Krian and Ba Kelalan – while DAP took away 13.
The Pakatan coalition is eyeing 25 seats in the next state elections.
According to state PKR chairman Baru Bian a special committee under the Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How had been formed to look into the details of the GE13 reports from the ground.
“We know why the party (PKR) did not fare well in the May 5 polls.
“It is because of money politics and threats. From information that we received, millions of ringgit had been used to buy votes.
“Even the money from BRIM and E-kasih had been effectively used during the campaign,” he said.
He said in the Ulu Rajang constituency, the Barisan Nasional issued 155 post-dated cheques each worth between RM8,000 and RM10,000 to the village security and development committees with the instruction that the longhouse voters  must vote for the BN candidate.
“The instruction was given to Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) who must ensure that his followers  vote for the BN candidate, if they wanted the money.
“All these had great impact on the voters who were only concerned with what they saw and they could not be bothered with something like policies,” said Bian, who is Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.
He said that such instruction was actually “a threat to the longhouse voters”.
“If they did not vote for BN, they would not get any project from the government.
“The longhouse chiefs must therefore work hard especially after the increase of their salaries,” he said.
Bian added that where the longhouse headmen were BN loyalist,  PKR candidates lost badly.
“But in longhouses where the headmen were neutral, PKR candidates won votes from those longhouses.
“The voters were scared, and even retired civil servants were also scared that they might lose their pension benefits.
“This is something we feel is not fair,” Bian said.
Of the 15 parliamentary seats it contested in GE13, Sarawak PKR won only the Miri seat.
Expressing disappointment over the attitude of Election Commission (EC),  Bian said that the  EC  appeared to be bias.
“In Saratok, more than 2,000 new voters were transferred from outside to the constituency, and there were also phantom voters.
“There was something suspicious here. If it was not by the collision of Election Commission, how come such a thing could be done?” he asked.
November deadline
Bian said the party and its partners knew what needed to be done.
“We are looking ahead for the next state election. We need early preparations and hope to settle the seats issue by November this year.
“Once this is done, then we can carry out the selection of candidates.We do not want last minute candidates as it affects our preparations,” he said.
Sarawak DAP had last month said that it was also eyeing the rural Dayak-majority areas.
Outgoing state chairman Wong Ho Leng said  it is time for the party to spread its influence in the rural areas.
DAP’s main nemesis here is BN’s Chinese-dominated Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP).
In both the 2011 state and recent May 5 parliamentary polls, SUPP only managed to retain its Dayak seats.
While in the 2011 state polls only two SUPP Chinese leaders retained their seats, in the latest parliamentary election, DAP wiped them out except in Serian, a Dayak majority seat.
According to Wong, in the rural Dayak frontier, money politics is the biggest setback for the opposition.
“Our feedback indicated that money politics was rampant (during the GE13), especially in the rural areas.
“That was the reason why Pakatan could not win more seats,” he said.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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