COMMENT In my short conversation with a Sarawakian friend, I made one remark that I am surprised myself how it came out from me.
“Only more Adenans will be able to save Sarawak,” I said in view of the coming state election, which has to be called by June next year.
The conversation centred around the recent political manoeuvre by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem to dissociate himself from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
In a speech during the Chinese New Year celebration with the Chinese, Adenan had condemned Umno in West Malaysia, and told the Chinese in Sarawak that they are not ‘pendatang’ (immigrants). He, however, stopped short of calling them sons of the soil.
In recent days, even Adenan has tried to stay away from the controversies surrounding Najib which has made it difficult for him to explain to the ordinary folks ahead of the state election, how the 1MDB saga will affect the people of Sarawak.
When I last visited Nanga Sumpa, a small village near the border of Kalimantan, to my surprise, people were asking me about the 1MDB. This was a year ago, way before the expose by the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report. I told them I had no answers.
In recent months, for some strange reasons, Sarawak Report has focused mainly on Najib rather than former chief minister Taib Mahmud, and from being a state-based whistleblower, its owner Clare Rewcastle-Brown has shifted the attention to Najib. It is because the 1MDB black hole is simply too big to be ignored.
Whatever happens to 1MDB eventually will affect the people of Sarawak. If the country has to pay the huge loans which 1MDB fails to service, it could only mean that the already poverty-stricken people of Sarawak would have to continue in their cycle of poverty for perhaps, my guess, the next five decades.
This is why the Sarawakians themselves are starting to ask questions, especially when the answers are not forthcoming. News is getting to even the most rural villages where there is no electricity, fresh water and the internet. People do not have access to Malaysiakini, yet they knew about the news portal.
Word of mouth spreads faster in such rural settings than the social media; therefore, for the federal government and the Multimedia and Communications Ministry to pin it solely on the social media as its major threat is a little short of addressing its real problems.
How much can the new CM achieve?
Adenan may be a moderate and in fact is well-liked, but his victory will mean just having one man occupying the seat of Sarawak chief minister.
What can one man do to transform the system when the entire system is corrupt? Unless there are more Adenans in Sarawak, how much can the new chief minister achieve in putting things in order?
There may be some positive changes here and there, but honestly, the question one has to ask is: since taking over the helm from his predecessor and former chief minister, how much has Adenan achieved, especially when Taib is also his brother-in-law and now the governor?
The problems faced by the country is not because of just one man, and not just Najib alone, but the entire system which has become rotten over the years. This has resulted in high-level corruption and major scandals that we hear so much about, yet the long arms of the law are unable to deal with them to any great extent.
We read about the wastages in the civil service, but what actions have been taken against such practices? Behind these so-called wastages, there is money to be made and obviously, someone must be benefiting from such practices.
Well and true that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been investigating the SRC International’s alleged transfer of RM40 million into Najib’s personal accounts, but until today, Najib has not been called to give a statement.
Instead, Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Paul Low (photo) is giving a flimsy answer: “If necessary!” My question to Low is: 'Why is it not necessary? If the money has gone into jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s personal accounts, would it be necessary then for Anwar to be giving statements?”
If you worked in a bank, and an investigation was being conducted over a missing amount as big as RM40 million, would the investigators knowingly pass you by when they discovered that in recent months that you are richer by RM40 million?
Therefore, I find Low’s answer not only unconvincing, but lacking the credibility of a minister in charge of integrity. Low may be a man of integrity himself in his personal life, but his answer in Parliament, which are meant for public consumption, is definitely not up to the mark.
For Adenan to do well in Sarawak, he has to add more people like himself in the state government, but till today, has he been able to ‘convert’ people who were once loyal to Taib? Will he pick a new set of people to stand in the election, or will it always be the same old people?
If not, I can safely say that Adenan will be another casualty like former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The moment his colleagues find him on the wrong footing, they will find an opportunity to put him in cold storage, or remove him.
This was what also happened to former Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah, who had no choice but to leave Umno to join Pakatan Harapan. At least, within the new coalition, he can find people who are like-minded and will be able to contribute his time and efforts to make this nation a better country for everyone.
What Adenan needs to add to his team are the type of young leaders which Saifuddin has clearly spelt out, that now exist within the Pakatan Harapan framework - people such as Rafizi Ramli, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tony Pua, Liew Chin Tong, Zairil Khir Johari and Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
Saifuddin himself is a potential leader who, when he was deputy higher education minister, was more well-liked by the operators of private tertiary education providers than his boss Khaled Nordin.
I wish to add also people like Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud (DAP candidate for Teluk Intan by election), Baru Bian (Ba’Kelalan state assemblyperson), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Selangor state assembly deputy speaker), Tian Chua (PKR vice-president), Dr Ong Kian Meng, N Surendran, Hannah Yeoh (Selangor state assembly speaker), Kashturi Patto and Elizabeth Wong (Selangor state exco member) as well have proven themselves to be useful and well-liked within the coalition.
That is why if Adenan knows that he is alone within the present setting, he should perhaps join Baru to form a new coalition in Sarawak. After all, birds of the same feather flock together.
GST affecting everyone
Sarawakians can no longer afford to live in a bliss of ignorance. Amidst the pressures of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), there are still lawmakers within BN who kiss the master’s boots and said, “GST is a god-sent solution!”
We, in West Malaysia, are having to pay hefty toll every day, but do you think the Trans-Borneo Highway would become a reality, especially with the current financial situation?
A number of major projects have been announced since Najib came into office, but till today, some of the projects have not taken off. I am wondering what is happening to the new ‘world’s tallest tower’, which is supposedly to rise from the present site of Stadium Merdeka. Is the project making much progress despite all the brouhaha when it was announced a few years ago?
Even former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad knows that his dream of a crooked bridge across the Straits of Johor can be dashed against the rocks, when there is not enough money in the coffers and there are more pressing needs elsewhere.
Sarawakians will not be interested in mega projects, but they want to know where the next meal is going to come from. Already constrained in their budgets and lacking the opportunities to improve their economic well-being, they are now being saddled with the GST at 6 percent.
Sarawakians really cannot escape from the reality of the GST, and other policies decided for them in Putrajaya. Unless they can put Adenan as prime minister in Putrajaya, and that I fully support. For now, my take is this: One vote for Adenan is one vote for Najib and Taib.
To vote for Adenan is therefore for Sarawakians to perpetuate the regime that, by right, should have been changed in the last general election. Even the Chinese dynasties had to be replaced so that justice and uprightness can be upheld. These are lessons from history.
Unless Adenan changes camp, or leads his political party to defect, Adenan can only be as good as one of them. No offence to Adenan, but this is a fact of life. He alone cannot bring reform to the entire BN coalition. Even Mahathir is unable to shake the mountain, can Adenan?
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.
Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/317750#ixzz3q2WFAPdm