ANALYSIS: Dayaks may hold the trump card in the next Sarawak state election, which is due by June 2016. And the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) is apparently feeling the heat.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri James Masing sounded the alarm recently by predicting that the “big battles” to be fought in the next state election will be in the Dayak-majority constituencies.
Masing, who is also State Land Development Minister, urged everyone in the party to give the rural areas priority and deliver what was promised to the people there.
He reportedly said that PRS needed to have a proper proposal for the rural voters as they would ask “what is there for me?”
The state BN comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), PRS, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen agreed that BN would no longer have it easy in its rural bastion, but was quick to hit out at Masing’s comments on the Dayak-majority seats.
“Masing’s statement gives the impression that in the past elections, Dayak seats were not hotly contested; so there was no need to deliver the promises and also no need to have a proper proposal for the rural voters.
“It is only when the big battles come to the Dayak seats that the plight of the Dayaks has to be taken seriously by the BN,” he told theantdaily.
He said that explains why the Dayak community was still among the poorest in the country.
“In the past two months, we [in the DAP] have started to concentrate our efforts on our ‘Go Rural’ drive.
“Recently, we have also launched our ‘Impian Sarawak’ campaign in Kuala Lumpur, calling on all Malaysians, be it Sarawakians or otherwise, to be the agent of change for Sarawak.
“The response has been tremendous, and beyond our expectation.
“I believe Masing is feeling the heat and the pressure which had prompted him to admit to the past neglects of the BN on Dayaks,” Chong said in an emailed statement.
He also gave a list of examples of how Sarawakians had been unfairly treated in the Federation of Malaysia and how the rural folk and the Dayaks were the worst hit and suffered the most.
Ultimately, Chong said Masing must “first apologise on behalf of the BN for all the past mistreatment of Dayaks” and later, list out “his so-called proper proposal for the rural voters”.
BN won 55 out of 71 seats at the last state election in 2011. PBB won the bulk of the seats with 35, PRS took eight and SPDP and SUPP managed to win six seats each.
The opposition won 15 seats, the bulk of them in urban areas with majority Chinese composition. The DAP took a dozen seats while PKR bagged three.
The remaining opposition parties, PAS and Sarawak National Party (SNAP), did not win any constituencies in 2011. There was only one independent victor.
The election results showed that 41.23 per cent of the votes went to Pakatan Rakyat from only 15 constituencies, mostly from the urban areas.
In all the 24 rural seats the common feature is the power of the Dayak votes. The various ethnic Dayak groups collectively make up some 45 per cent of Sarawak’s population and are spread out all over the state.
With the possible exception of PAS, Dayaks are present in every political party in Sarawak (whether in BN, Pakatan or other minority splinter entities), reflecting the integrated multi-racial nature of Sarawak itself.
~ The Ant Daily