Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rare earth venture: ‘Stop your sandiwara’

Humayun Kabir |

April 30, 2011

Pakatan Rakyat does not believe that the Perak government is sincere about not wanting another rare earth plant in Bukit Merah.

IPOH: Pakatan Rakyat politicians want the Perak government to stop fooling the people with its “sandiwara” (stage show) on the controversial rare earth plant.

They said the state was merely harbouring a hidden agenda when it disallowed the construction of the refinery in Bukit Merah here.

They also cast doubts on the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) assurance that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between a Hong Kong-based company and the state-owned Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak (PSDC) or Perak State Development Corporation to explore and mine rare earth in the state will not lead to the establishment of another rare earth plant in Bukit Merah.

In a filing to the Hong Hong Stock Exchange on April 18, Commerce Venture Manufacturing (CVM) Minerals Ltd said it had entered into an understanding with PSDC, which reportedly agreed to carry out the project on a joint-venture basis in Bukit Merah.

DAP Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan said: “The MoU specifies the entering into or establishment of a joint venture in Malaysia for the purpose of the exploration and mining of rare earth and other potential minerals and activities in an area in Bukit Merah.”

“The word ‘activities’ speaks volumes of the hidden agenda of the state… we don’t know what the joint venture will eventually lead to but this has not been publicly disclosed,” she said.

She accused the BN state government of working silently to ensure the success of this controversial joint venture.

However, Malaysians were alerted to this deal when CVM publicly announced about it in Hong Kong, she said.

Conflicting statements

CVM, through it local subsidiary CVM Metal Recycle Sdn Bhd, has applied to the state’s Land and Mineral Office for a licence to explore an area covering 250ha in Bukit Merah.

She made available a copy of the MoU to the press yesterday at the Kampung Bukit Merah wet market after holding a protest gathering against the project together with other Pakatan leaders.

Fong also pointed out the conflicting public statements made by BN leaders and PSDC CEO Samsudin Hashim.

Samsudin has reportedly said the matter was still being studied and the state government had yet to give its approval.

However, State Health, Local Government and Environment Committee chairman Mah Han Soon was quoted as saying that even if the project was given approval, the rare earth processing plant would not be built.

Fong pointed out there is no safety mechanism in the MoU to ensure that the joint venture does not result in the construction of the refinery.

The other DAP leaders present were Ipoh Barat MP M Kula Segaran, Pasir Pinjiman assemblyman Thomas Su and PKR state vice-chief Chang Lih Kang.

No categorical assurance

Said Kula Segaran: “BN will always have its way in bulldozing through all its public projects even if the people object or protest.”

He also asked why Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir did not come out openly to give a categorical and immediate assurance that there will be no rare earth plant in Perak when informed of the MoU.

Instead, Zambry chose to be silent while allowing Mah and senior state executive councillor Hamidah Osman to make conflicting statements, he said.

Hamidah was quoted as saying that the Perak government would not allow a second rare earth plant to be built in Bukit Merah.

She was also quoted as saying that the MoU was merely a low-level agreement and CVM Minerals would not get authorisation for any rare earth project under any circumstances.

Kula Segaran also asked whether there are many more other low-level agreements of which Zambry was in the dark.

Su questioned the state government’s claim that the deal was only for exploratory purposes without giving any concrete clauses on the objective of the project.

He claimed that the state government was only fooling the public into believing that no rare earth project will proceed but was silently making arrangements for such a venture.

He took the BN government to task for forgetting the 1980 episode in Bukit Merah when the first rare earth plant was built.

It was closed in 1992 after years of protests from citizens. The area is still undergoing a massive RM303 million clean-up helmed by Mitsubishi Chemicals, which built the refinery.

Residents of Bukit Merah, which is situated in the outskirts of Ipoh, blamed the rare earth refinery for birth defects and eight leukemia cases. Seven of the leukemia victims have since died.

Mitsubishi Chemicals also reached an out-of-court settlement with nearby residents by donating almost RM500,000 to the community’s schools, while denying any responsibility for the illnesses.

Said Su: “This is a sensitive issue that involves the health of residents, but BN is bent on going with this project without paying heed to the safety aspects

“I urge the public to vote BN out in the coming general election,” he said.

Chang said Zambry should resign as he was misleading the public on this controversial issue by claiming to be in the dark over the matter.

He claimed that BN was only keen on its own political agenda without taking into consideration the welfare of the people.

MP casts doubt on Zambry’s denial

The Star News

IPOH: An MP here expressed surprise that the Perak Mentri Besar is unaware about a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between a state agency and a Hong Kong company on the feasibility of exploring and mining rare earth minerals in Bukit Merah.

Baju Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan said Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadirmust give a frank disclosure on the state’s stand in this matter.

An online portal recently published an article quoting Zambry saying he would demand an explanation from a state firm and that he was left in the dark over the MoU.

Bukit Merah was the site of Malaysia’s rare earth plant 20 years ago, which is still undergoing a massive RM300mil clean-up of alleged radioactive waste.

Several Pakatan Rakyat leaders had yesterday gathered at a market in Menglembu to protes, and called for an immediate cancellation of the study or discussions related to rare earth minerals in the state.

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran said cur­­rently 80,000 drums of radioactive waste were kept at a dump in the Kledang Range, only 3km from Bukit Merah and 15km from Ipoh.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Perak Pakatan warns street protest over rare earth deal

April 29, 2011
Kulasegaran described Zambry’s pleas of ignorance on the issue as “shocking”. — file pic
MENGLEMBU, April 29 — Perak Pakatan Rakyat today threatened to take to the streets if the state government fails to rescind its agreement allowing Hong Kong’s CVM Minerals Ltd to explore rare earth mining possibilities in Bukit Merah.

As a prelude, several PR lawmakers gathered at a market here this morning along with a group of residents and staged a mini-protest against the impending project.

Pasir Pinji assemblyman Thomas Su told The Malaysian Insider later that Bukit Merah folk were still sore over the deaths blamed on the country’s first rare earths plant.

Bukit Merah was the site of Malaysia’s last rare earths plant 20 years ago, which is still undergoing a massive RM300 million clean-up. The Japanese-owned Mitsubishi Chemical’s Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant has been linked to eight cases of leukaemia, seven resulting in death.

News of the government’s latest bid for a similar initiative, said Su, had triggered a fresh wave of dissent from residents here.

“We want the government to stop the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with CVM Minerals immediately.

“If (Datuk Seri) Zambry (Kadir) fails, we will mobilise the people of Bukit Merah, of Perak and Malaysia to protest and demand a stop to the project,” he said when contacted.

Su said interviews with Bukit Merah residents this morning had confirmed that many were against any rare earth mining project in the area, fearing a repeat of the last rare earth factory disaster in 1992.

He added that although Zambry had pleaded ignorance in the matter, as the chairman of the Perak State Development Corporation (PSDC), the state investment arm that signed the MoU with CVM Minerals, the mentri besar would have the power to rescind the agreement.

“Do not wait for six months until it expires. That would just be an excuse. The people do not want any such plant here,” he said.

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, who was also at the protest, questioned the conflicting statements issued by Perak government leaders on the matter.

He said it was “shocking” that Zambry, as the PSDC chairman, was unaware of the MoU between the agency and CVM Minerals.

“How could the mentri besar who also chairs PSDC be totally in the dark about such an agreement?

“How many more ‘low-level agreements’ are there that he is not aware of?” he said, referring to senior state executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman’s description of the MoU.

Kulasegaran, who is also DAP national deputy chairman, added that Zambry, upon being informed of the MoU, should have given his immediate assurance that the government would not approve any rare earth plant in Perak.

“Why should it be Hamidah who declared that the government would not issue any permit?” he said.

Kulasegaran also urged Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, MCA’s sole representative in Perak, to clarify his statement suggesting that there was a possibility that such a project be given the green light.

Dr Mah, who is the Perak Health, Local Government and Environment Committee Chairman, was quoted in news reports as saying, “Even if the project was given approval, there would not be any construction of a rare earth processing plant”.

“Is there some confusion among the government leaders or is there more than that meets the eyes?” Kulasegaran asked.

He said the disaster of the ARE plant should serve as a good lesson for Perak and the state government should declare a no-rare-earth-plant policy for the state.

“It was recently confirmed that 80,000 200L drums containing radioactive waste are currently being kept at the dump located in the Kledang Range behind Papan town.

“The site is 3km from Bukit Merah and Papan and about 15km from Ipoh. And the waste is thorium hydroxide. Cancer-causing radon is released during decay.

“Hence, not only the Perak state government must declare a no more rare earth plant policy for the state, Perakians must also make their stand and voices loud and clear that they reject the set up of any rare earth plant,” he said.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Perak government had entered into an agreement with CVM Minerals Limited allowing it to explore and mine for rare earth in Bukit Merah, even as controversy continues to rage over a similar effort in Gebeng, Kuantan.

In a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on April 18, CVM Minerals announced it had entered into the MoU with the PSDC to carry out the project in Bukit Merah here.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider shortly after the news made headlines, Zambry denied any knowledge of such an MoU and expressed disapproval that his consent had not been sought.

He also said that any rare earth project in the state would be subject to the same standards required by the federal government that recently put the Kuantan’s Lynas Corp plant on ice after public outcry over potential radiation pollution.

PSDC clarified yesterday that its MoU with CVM Minerals was merely to allow the firm to conduct feasibility studies on the viability of mining for rare earths in the area.

Its chief executive officer, Datuk Samsudin Hashim, said in a statement that the MoU had a six-month deadline and would be automatically cancelled should the company’s intention fail to receive approval from any local authority or if the project is not viable.

DAP is prepared to launch a protest campaign

Unless the BN State Government makes it clear and firm that there will not be any rare earth plant in the state, DAP is prepared to launch a protest campaign to compel the government to declare such a policy.

Following public disclosure that CVM Minerals Limited had entered into an MoU with the PKNP to explore and mine rare earths in Bukit Merah, we have seen different reactions from the government leaders.

Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry said that he was left in the dark over the agreement.

Perak Health, Local Government and Environment Committee Chairman Datuk Mah Han Soon said that as far as he was concerned, it was just a MoU (memorandum of understanding) between the state investment arm and a private firm, and no permit had been issued to start any ground work.

But he added:

“Even if the project was given approval, there would not be any construction of a rare earth processing plant”.

Perak executive councilor Hamidah Osman said that the Perak government would not allow a second rare earth plant to be built in Bukit Merah.

She said the MOU was merely a “low-level” agreement and CVM Minerals would not get authorisation for any rare earth project under any circumstances.

DAP is shocked that PKNP could sign such an agreement given allegation that the people are still suffering health problems due to the first rare earth plant built in Bukit Merah some 20 years ago.

How could the Mentri Besar who also chairs PKNP be totally in the dark about such an agreement?

How many more low level agreement are there that he is not aware of?

I can’t help but wonder why Datuk Zambry did not give a categorical and immediate assurance that there will be no rare earth plant in Perak when informed of the MoU.

Why should it be Hamidah who declared that the government would not issue any permit?

Why Mah Hang Soon should qualify his statement by saying that “even if the project was given approval……….?

Is there some confusion among the government leaders or is there more than that meets the eyes?

The first rare earth plant should serve as a good lesson for Perak and the government must never repeat the mistake and allow the set up of another rare earth plant

It was recently confirmed that 80,000 two hundred litre drums containing radio active waste are currently being kept at the dump located in the Kledang Range behind Papan town. The site is 3km from Bukit Merah and Papan and about 15km from Ipoh . And the waste is thorium hydroxide. Cancer-causing radon is released during decay.

Hence, not only the Perak state government must declare a no more rare earth plant policy for the state, Perakians must also make their stand and voices loud and clear that they reject the set up of any rare earth plant.

Unless the state government makes it clear and firm that there will not be any rare earth plant in the state, DAP is prepared to launch a protest campaign to compel the government to declare such a policy.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat assure Perakians that under the Pakatan Rakyat policy and government, no rare earth plant will ever be allowed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reveal details of rare earth venture, Zambry urged

An MP wants the Perak government to explain the deal it signed with a Hong Kong-based company for the proposed mining of rare earth in Bukit Merah.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Perak government should reveal the details of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) it signed with a Hong Kong-based company over the proposed rare earth venture, Batu Gajah MP, Fong Po Kuan, said today.

“We don’t need this kind of so-called investment or any sort of investment which will put the people’s lives, health or the environment at risk,” she told FMT.

She was commenting on a FMT report that the state and the Hong Kong company, Commerce Venture Manufacturing (CVM) Minerals Ltd, had inked a deal in relation to “the establishment of a joint venture in Malaysia for the purposes of the exploration and mining of rare earth and other potential minerals and activities” in Bukit Merah.

Fong urged Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir to explain the deal, reminding him of the Mitsubishi Chemicals’ Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant set up in Bukit Merah.

The ARE plant was shut down in 1992 after years of strong protest. Residents in Bukit Merah blamed the rare earth refinery for birth defects and leukemia cases in the community. Mitsubishi Chemicals is still cleaning up the place.

“The government should have learnt its lesson,” Fong said.

Perak DAP chief and Beruas MP, Ngeh Koo Ham, also opposed the proposed latest joint venture with the Hong Kong company.

“There is nothing wrong with mining rare earth in itself; what we are concerned about is the impact on the environment, the disposal of radioactivity waste and by-products, and whether the processing of the rare earth will done here.”

News Source :

DAP slams ‘dangerous’ Perkasa-Rela brigade

PETALING JAYA: The Rela subgroup for Perkasa members is alarming, dangerous and unaccetable, said DAP MP Teresa Kok today.

She added that the latest development proved Barisan Nasional’s tacit support for Perkasa’s “brazen racism”.

Kok was referring to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s approval of the establishment of a subgroup within the Rela volunteer corps called “Briged Setia Negara” which is exclusive to Perkasa members.

To add salt to the wound, she said, Hishammuddin was even helping Perkasa build its capacity by providing its members with Rela para-military training, uniforms, and presumably other entitlements such as allowance and personal accident insurance.

“All of which are funded by Malaysian taxpayers of all races,” she added.

Kok said the minister was turning a blind eye to the fact that Perkasa was a self-proclaimed Malay supremacist group and that Perkasa’s position was completely antithetical to the government’s 1Malaysia.

“Since its inception, Perkasa has issued numerous hot-headed, fear-mongering and seditious statements with impunity. Just last week, Perkasa announced it will spearhead the 1Melayu 1Bumi movement to take on the so-called Chinese challenge.

“Given Perkasa’s extremist, far-right leanings, Hishammuddin should have recognised the imprudence in allowing the formation of this Rela-Perkasa subgroup.

“There is the danger that Perkasa may be emboldened to abuse its government-sanctioned Rela power in which to further its racial supremacist goals,” she added.

Kok also said that Hishammuddin’s stand was not surprising based on his track-record of Perkasa-like tendencies.

“In 2006 and 2007, he brandished the keris at the Umno general assembly, and in 2009, he had the gall to defend the despicable Shah Alam cow-head protesters,” she added.

The Seputeh MP urged the minister to immediately withdraw the approval for the Rela subgroup to demonstrate that racial supremacist groups like Perkasa do not have a place in 1Malaysia.

source :

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The setting up of IPCMC is long overdue and should not be delayed any longer

Manivanan, a 36 year old photographer was driving his car at about 9.30pm on 25th April along Brewster Road in Ipoh.

Just as he was passing the Kinta River Bridge, a dark land of the road, he was stopped by the traffic police. He was asked by the traffic police man why he wasn’t wearing the safety belt and also he was using his hand phone. Both allegations if true are offences under the law.

Manivanan disputed with the traffic policeman’s allegations. Exchange of words took place.

Suddenly some 5 traffic policemen surrounded Manivanan and handcuffed him. He was remanded overnight at the local police station.

The next day he was brought to court and charged for uttering offensive words against the traffic police man under the Minor Offences Act where the maximum fine is RM100.00

Just a few days ago the Deputy –Inspector General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said:-

“We should not be hiding behind bushes. We should come out in the open and enforce the law,”

The directive to stop the ambushes has been issued, he added, saying that signs would be set up before the speed trap or roadblocks to warn the motorists beforehand.

But in the case of the roadblock at Brewster Road, there was no warning to any motorist. Worse still the roadblock was done under a big rain tree which was dark and not lighted and motorists were caught off guard.

Has the directive of Deputy IGP any bite? Or it is just another publicity stunt?

Why the necessity to handcuff the victim? Worse still he was kept overnight in the Ipoh lock up.

For a minor offence, what’s the necessity to keep an alleged offender overnight?

Just because the police can detain one it does not mean one can be detained at the whims and fancies of the police.

We are further given to understand that Manivanan was kept in the lock up without food and water. This is a clear abuse of police authority and power.

We intend to file proceedings soon against the police for abuse of authority.

We ask the Inspector General of Police to institute an independent inquiry of this incident and bring those who have abused the power to the book.

The above incident again shows the urgent necessity of making the proposed independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) a reality.

Good cops have no need to fear the IPCMC. It setting up will in fact help improve the image of the Police Force.

IPCMC is an important recommendation made by Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police.

A government that shouts the slogan “People First “will have to walk the talk and do what is right and necessary for the people

The setting up of IPCMC is long overdue and should not be delayed any longer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A challenge to the DPM — David Martin

April 26, 2011 --The Malaysian Insider

APRIL 26 — Dear Tan Sri Muhyiddin,

I really don’t want to exchange pleasantries with you but my parents brought me up to respect everyone, even those you can’t stand. So here goes; I hope this letter reaches you in the best of health, both mind and body.

For yonks I’ve viewed politicians with a lot of disdain and an unhealthy degree of suspicion. Could you blame me for having such a perception? I’ve seen countless politicians with so many different personas to cater to their target audience that they’d put a chameleon to shame.

Just a little under a fortnight ago, you spent a lot of time in my home state of Sarawak trying to drum up support for your coalition in view of the impending state elections. You spoke yourself hoarse propagating the 1Malaysia plan that was mooted by your boss, the PM himself.

Now that the Sarawak elections are over, you’ve shed another one of your many skins and have gone on to support the 1Melayu 1Bumiputera concept mooted by Utusan Malaysia. You were reported to have said that the concept reflected the aspirations of Malays in the country.

“Is it good for Malaysians to not take into consideration the feelings of Malays, who are bumiputeras and the majority in the country? We cannot stop people from expressing their views although it does not make others happy … but some Chinese don’t know the feelings of Malays… the Malays know the feelings of Chinese,” you said.

You seem to speak as if the Malays are an oppressed lot amongst Malaysians. You speak as if the Chinese are the head honchos in the country. You speak as if you are 100% sure of the sentiments which you blurted out.

May I be so insolent as to ask you if Malaysia would be where it would be today if not for the contributions of the other races other than the majority race? Would Malaysia have prospered without the support of the other races? Heck, even the independence of Malaya was in no small parts due to the contributions of MCA and MIC.

The comparison may seem inappropriate, but I’ll say it anyway. There are some parallels to the Nazis of the early 20th centuries who propagate superiority of the Aryan race over the others.

I have always thought that the PM, his deputy as well as the cabinet was voted into office for Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliations. And as such you owe allegiance to the people, to Malaysians and not to any particular race or religion.

But you came out with the infamous declaration that you were a Muslim first, a Malay second and a Malaysian last. And till today, you’ve resisted any requests or pressure to retract that statement.

Being a Catholic Chinese Malaysian, should my allegiance be to the Vatican as the Catholic state, China as my heritage roots and finally to Malaysia as the country of my birth, in that order?

Let’s put an end to this hypocrisy shall we? Let’s have an open debate, telecast live or otherwise. A debate between a seasoned politician cum minister cum the number two guy in the country and a regular man on the street. A man who never had the privileges that came with a bumiputera status.

Lets talk about anything and everything under the sun that matters to the average joe/jane that many a Malaysian are. You get to pick the time, the place, the moderator etc. And I’ll make that date so we can speak our minds without fear to be judged by Malaysians.

And lest you hesitate, I’m not a member of any political party and nor do I intend to join any. I just feel that it’s time that you be put in your place for your obviously skewed viewed where religion and race is concerned in total contradiction of your supposed support for the 1 Malaysia concept.

And yes, we can have it in Bahasa Malaysia if that tickles your fancy. After all, you are at the heart of all the hare brained schemes to abolish PPSMI and to put in place MBMMBI to replace it. I may not be a native speaker of the language but I have been told that I hold my own comfortably when I do speak it (or so my peers say).

I await your response without holding my breath lest I expire of asphyxiation. The ball is in your court. What say you?

Your Sincerely, A Malaysian 1st, 2nd & last... Always

* David Martin reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is "Interlok" issue over for MIC??


YB SivaKumar, YB Kesavan, Simathari and local leaders are are present at tonight's ceramah in Cameron Highlands. I have a dinner function later thus I requested the organizer to allow me to speak first.

Just concluded my speech. About 100 + people attended.

Many people have written sarcastically in the internet space that Malaysia is a boleh land where illogical and unjust things could occur.

I can certainly understand why there is such sarcasm as the BN government never fails to make this a “ boleh land”.

Take for example, the Interlok issue.

It is plain obvious that the Interlok novel is unsuitable for use as a school text , yet the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiidin has failed to withdraw it from the schools.

It is obvious that the issue is far from over, but the Education Minister claims that it is resolved and over.

Yet this is the government that says the era where the government knows best is over.

If the BN government truly believes that the era where the government knows best is over, then it must be prepared to listen to the legitimate voices of the people.

Let me tell the BN government that the issue is not over. And the Chinese community is also offended by the novel.

Last month, a number of prominent Chinese groups were among 45 organisations which voiced their strong objection against the government's decision to retain the controversial novel as a compulsory textbook for secondary schools.

The organizations described ‘Interlok’ as an “insidious poison and accused the novel of propagating the ideology of “Ketuanan Melayu”.

Their statement says:

“In fact, Interlok is barely a step away from the Biro Tatanegara brainwashing that promotes racism and disunity. 'Interlok' conveys the central message that Chinese, Indian and other minorities are second-class citizens in addition to perpetuating the divisive notion of a host community (the Malays) versus foreigners ('bangsa asing' Cina dan India).

“Not so subtly, 'Interlok' intends to put the Chinese and Indians in their place as 'pendatang', and validating a social hierarchy according to ethnic origin.”

Prominent Chinese groups which signed the statement included KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall, Johor Federation of Chinese Associations and Penang Chinese Town Hall.

Hence, the government is not only behaving as if it knows best just like how it was before the 2008 general election, it is also behaving like how it was before—being insensitive and arrogant.

The Interlok issue has proven to the people that the BN government has not changed after suffering its worst electoral debacle in the 2008 general election.

It is obvious that the BN has not learned its lesson from the previous general election.

It also shows that despite having a new leader, MIC is still ineffective and spineless like before.

Let me ask MIC what is its stand now on this issue?

Has MIC surrendered completely and agreed that the issue is resolved and over?

DAP will not allow a novel which can spew poison among our young to be used as a school text.

We will make this a major issue in the coming general election.

Sarawak DAP gives thumbs-up to SNAP merger

By Clara Chooi

April 25, 2011

SIBU, April 25 — The Sarawak DAP appears to be taking aggressive steps to take charge of Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) campaign ahead of the coming general election, beginning with endorsing the proposal to merge with the Sarawak National Party (SNAP).

The state’s top leaders met here yesterday to discuss the proposal mooted by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and gave its approval despite SNAP’s still-simmering feud with PKR.

The merger is seen to be the DAP’s strategy to boost its mileage in the state’s Dayak-majority areas, thus giving the party greater bargaining power when negotiating for seats with PKR in the coming general election.

Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen (picture) told The Malaysian Insider today that the party had already kicked off informal discussions with several SNAP leaders on the proposed merger and will soon raise the matter with the DAP’s national leadership.

He acknowledged that PKR was uncomfortable with the merger but reminded its leaders that it was PKR’s strained ties with SNAP that had forced multi-cornered fights between the two parties during the April 16 state polls.

“To have a friend is better than to have a foe. For whatever said and done, they (SNAP) still have their support so that is why our state committee met and discussed the proposal and decided to endorse it.

“They (SNAP) still have a brand name in Sarawak after having been around for so long and though they may not have done so well in this is election, I do not think you can just write them off like that,” he said.

Before the polls, the DAP had to back down during negotiations with PKR over seat distribution and finally agreed to settle for 15 seats instead of the 20 seats it had initially wanted to contest.

PKR and SNAP, on the other hand, had failed to strike a compromise and in the final hours before nomination day on April 6, both parties were still locked in combat over seat distribution.

They ended up clashing in 26 state seats, forcing a split in the opposition vote, which PKR later complained had helped Barisan Nasional (BN) emerge victorious in the polls.

“We cannot afford to have a repeat of that... we cannot afford to wait and to continue what we did in the last election when we all had to wait until the very last minute. There was just too much uncertainty,” Chong recalled.

He pointed out that if the DAP did not engage with SNAP, a repeat of the state polls would likely occur during the general election.

“Like it or not, we cannot avoid it. They (SNAP) will be around and they will contest and we need to prevent multi-cornered fights,” he said.

He cited an example of Election 2008 when PKR and the DAP both contested in the Stampin parliamentary seat and lost to BN.

“DAP got 18,000 votes, PKR got about 2,000-plus while BN won with 21,000. Fact is that they (PKR) ruined our chances to win... this is why we must sit and discuss these things amicably.

“If we exclude them (SNAP), they will still come up again and then when does it stop?” he asked.

He expressed relief that despite its battle with PKR, the DAP had already laid its groundwork in Sarawak many months prior to the dissolution of the state assembly, helping it to face the polls fully prepared.

For PKR however, deputy president Azmin Ali admitted to The Malaysian Insider recently that the party had only gotten down to serious work about three months before the election, resulting in its “disorganised” campaign.

As a result, the DAP cruised to a thumping victory on April 16 and swept 12 of the 15 seats it contested while PKR trailed far behind, securing just three of its 49 seats.

“For the next election, we want to be even more prepared and that is why we endorsed the merger. We will sort out the details later... hopefully, SNAP will see the wisdom behind it,” he said.

He stressed however that the proposal was still in the discussion stage and would only become a reality one it is endorsed by the national leadership and accepted by PR.

“We also have to raise it with our central executive committee and to the Sarawak PKR leadership as well as the PR council.

“But whatever step we take, the DAP’s primary objective is to strengthen PR rather than to weaken. So whether it is PKR or SNAP or us, the objective is to win more seats,” said

Tony Pua: Show proof DAP is racist

DAP has challenged Election Commission deputy chief Wan Ahmad Wan Omar and Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Rais Yatim to show proof that the opposition party had indulged in racist tactics in the recent Sarawak polls.

NONEThe party's publicity secretary Tony Pua (left) warned that if neither can show that a DAP candidate, in particular, had at a ceramah uttered a racial slur against the Melanau minority, the party will contemplate taking legal action over the matter.

"Barisan Nasional, having lost the confidence of the public, particularly in the urban centres, are now using government agencies such as the Election Commission to incite racial hatred against the DAP in order to protect their own selfish political interest," sniped Pua, who is also Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentarian, in a statement.

He was referring to a column in Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia in which Wan Ahmad was quoted as having accused DAP or running a racist campaign in the recently-concluded Sarawak election.

Wan Ahmad, was reported as having cited Rais' claim that DAP's Pending candidate, Violet Yong, had told a 'closed-door' ceramah that "dah cukup masa orang Melanau jadi menteri besar" (we have had enough of a Melanau being the chief minister).

Pua described the accusations by Wan Ahmad as being "all desperate lies" from people "who has not only failed to ensure free and fair elections in Sarawak but are now trying to justify to its political masters why EC failed to curb the people's will to vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the urban centres."

kuala terengganu parliament by election spr ec announcement  051208 wan ahmad wan omarWan Ahmad (right) had also reportedly claimed during his rounds to inspect preparations for the state polls, he had found that most of DAP's Chinese-language banners contained elements of racism and were incendiary in nature.

There were 'too many' of such posters and banners, the commissioner reportedly claimed, that the EC and police were unable to take any action.

"It would not wrong to say that there were racially-tinged campaigns throughout the big towns in Sarawak, especially those by DAP," Wan Ahmad was quoted as saying.

Lambasting the accusations, Pua challenged the EC to come up with proof that the DAP had put up banners that incite to racial hatred and anger.

"Throughout the entire campaign, we have ensure that practically all our campaign materials contains at least two languages, whether in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese or Iban.

"Our campaign theme has been thoroughly focussed on fighting corruption, cronyism and abuse of power and never on a particular race," said Pua.

Malicious lies

He also expressed certainty that if the EC with its legions of officers and their ready cameras had proof of serious transgressions, they should show such evidence "instead of spreading malicious lies."

If there were any party which had resorted to racial slurs during the election campaign and polling, it was BN and its component party SUPP, in particular.

"Nearly all SUPP banners were only in the Chinese language, and they threatened the Chinese community that if the latter failed to support SUPP, the government will ignore their needs in the future.

"Why didn't EC reprimand or take action against the SUPP?" asked Pua.

"In addition, the DAP has never held any "closed door" ceramahs in Sarawak.

NONE"All our events whether in public places or function rooms, were always open to public, including to the media and special branch officers, who had diligently video-recorded every word uttered by our leaders."

Demanding a public apology from Wan Ahmad and Rais (left), Pua said Wan Ahmad in particular, should resign not only for "failing to ensure a level playing field for elections in Sarawak" but for having become "the cat's paw for BN to defame and denigrate Pakatan Rakyat component parties."


Zairil Khir Johari is a chocolate purveyor, chicken rice enthusiast and noodle lover. When he's not preoccupied with any of the above, he is also a politician.

When wolves cry ‘wolf’

April 25, 2011

APRIL 25 — When a known liar accuses someone else of lying, whom do you trust? In a nutshell, that is the predicament faced by the proverbial boy who cried wolf. And, of late, there have certainly been many boys crying “Wolf”.

The 2011 Sarawak election has been a successful one, insofar as the DAP is concerned. However, our success has now rendered us victims of a vicious hate campaign being propagated by the BN and its media.

A quick glance at news items last week reveals a barrage of high-profile attacks on the DAP. First it began, unsurprisingly, with an editorial from Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia, calling upon the BN to forego Chinese support because, ostensibly, the community has turned its back on the government. Such ungrateful citizens! We gave them the right to vote, and they dared to vote against us?

Awang Selamat’s call-to-arms was immediately followed up by a fellow Utusan editor, who went one step further by announcing the need for a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement in order to unite the “divided” Malay community.

And this is apparently necessary because Malay political power is now under threat by the Chinese, who, despite making up only 25 per cent of the Malaysian population, is suddenly capable of taking over the reins of power. I for one am glad I had a different maths teacher.

If that wasn’t enough, the president of the MCA decided to bay for blood as well, essentially threatening the Chinese community in Sarawak for their folly of daring to vote for anyone other than an “approved” BN representative.

Last but not least, joining in the chorus was a retired prime minister-turned-blogger and part-time amateur historian, said to be working on his latest book: “Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah (Di Alam Fantasiku)”.

In his usual manner, subtlety was dispensed with. The DAP is a racist party that has brought racism to Sarawak! Ruh-roh! Only the BN can truly represent the needs of the various races in Malaysia.

Phew! At the rate they were going, one would have thought the DAP had single-handedly won control of the Sarawak government. Imagine if we had actually won every seat we contested. Gasp, that would give us control over a whopping 15 out of 71 seats! Seriously, maths lessons?

Yet we should not dismiss their delirium wholesale. Let us look further and attempt to deconstruct their arguments. As it appears, the DAP’s alleged “racism” is predicated upon:

a. A mainly Chinese-member base and support.

b. The fact that we only seem to win Chinese-majority seats.

c. The “Malaysian Malaysia” slogan.

First of all, I would like to point out that every single DAP member, whether Malay, Indian, Chinese or Iban, is, above all, a Malaysian. However, if we insist on going into racial semantics, then let me be as clear as possible.

There is a world of a difference between a party with a large member base derived from a certain community, and a party with a racialist agenda. Just because a party has many members of one race does not automatically mean the party’s agenda is based along racial lines.

Similarly, when Umno is accused of being racialist, it is not because it is a Malay party, but because it espouses policies like “ketuanan Melayu”, which is not only outwardly racist but also extra-constitutional.

Now, despite deriving most of its members from one community, the DAP’s message is clearly non-racial. Our struggle is one for democracy, justice and a fairer distribution of wealth. Our campaign, and this was especially evident in Sarawak, was focused entirely on issues such as abuse of power, corruption and an authoritarian leader who has long overstayed his welcome.

If any of the above is considered racist in any way, it is only for two reasons. Either it is presumed that only Chinese Malaysians are concerned about the problems of our country, or that the aforementioned problems afflict only one race. And, unlike the MCA, we know neither to be true.

Next, the DAP does indeed win in mostly Chinese-majority seats, but how is that surprising? Being a party that is traditionally urban-based, and since most urban centres happen to be Chinese-majority, isn’t it only natural?

However, it is also important to note that many of the seats we contested and won in Sarawak were marginally Chinese majority. Hence, most of those wins would not have been possible without the votes of the other races. Thus, it is a fallacy to assume that the DAP appeals to only one section of the community.

Also, having spent the last few weeks in Sarawak, I can confirm that politics there has much less to do with race compared to Peninsular Malaysia. In fact, as my fellow columnist June Rubis so marvellously observed, nearly everyone in Sarawak is able to stake a claim on more than one of the many cultures that make up the colourful state. In fact, Sarawakian society is so plural it makes some of us Peninsular Malaysians envious.

Lastly, the DAP’s old war-cry of a “Malaysian Malaysia” is deemed to be offensive, despite the fact that it does not differ greatly from the BN’s versions, i.e. “Bangsa Malaysia” or its latest incarnation, “1 Malaysia.” Why is anything only kosher when the BN does it?

Desperation is obviously in the air when the BN will resort to anything in order to maintain its grip on power. But at what expense? The BN’s racialised posturing, in the form of fear-mongering and outward racial mobilisation, is clearly threatening Malaysian unity, and yet they claim that the DAP is trying to break the country in two.

However, despite all the spin, Malaysians are no longer so easily fooled. The Sarawak election is proof of that. This is what happens when we have finally realised that the boy crying “wolf” is actually the big, bad wolf himself.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Indian voters "King makers" in the next General Elections?


Among the speakers at the cemarah held at Kg. Tun Sambathan Pantai Remis were Dato Ngeh, Nga, Prof Ramasamy, Kamachee and SivaKumar.

Good crowd I think around 300 +people. Interestingly dinner was provided by the local branch. I ate mutton as usual!

When dinner was served we screened the "interlok" video clip.

I just finished speaking and part of my speech is as follows:

Come the next general election, the Indian voters must play the King Maker role again to bring about a second political tsunami and deal the arrogant BN and spineless MIC with their worst ever electoral defeat.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin said that the Interlok issue has been resolved.

But the government knows s too well that the issue is not over.

The government knows the Indian community still demands that the novel be withdrawn as a school text.

The government knows too that the book is not suitable for use as a school text.

It knows that the factual inaccuracies and distortions in the contents of the novel have hurt the feelings of the Indian community.

Why then is the government still so adamant in its stand not to withdraw the novel from being used as a school text?

The reason is because the BN government is still the same insensitive and arrogant government that it was before the 2008 general election.

Despite having suffered its worst electoral debacle in the previous general election, it has not learnt its lesson.

It is obvious that the BN government now believes that the Interlok issue will not affect the BN’s electoral performance in the coming general election.

It is also obvious that, with the swing back of some Indian support towards BN in the recent by elections, MIC is also confident that Interlok has become a non issue.

This explains why though the Interlok issue is still unresolved; MIC Youth chief Mohan could openly declare that Indians have backed BN again.

Let me ask MIC what is its stand on the Interlok issue? Does MIC regard the issue as resolved?

Interlok issue is only over for the BN government which is insensitive and arrogant.

Interlok issue is only a non issue to the MIC which has no backbone to fight for the novel’s withdrawal as a school text.

Interlok issue is certainly not over for those who can see that the novel is not suitable as a school text.

It is not over for those who know that its usage will spew poison among the young and will not help in forging racial harmony.

Interlok is definitely and cannot be over for those who have been hurt by the novel’s contents as well as the BN’s government’s insensitivity and arrogance.

If BN government continues to ignore the people’s voice, then the Indian community must make their demand through their powerful weapon – their votes in the coming general election.

The Indian community‘s King Maker role in the 2008 general election has dealt BN its worst electoral debacle.

Come the next general election, the Indian voters must play the King Maker role again to bring about a second political tsunami and deal the arrogant BN and spineless MIC with their worst ever electoral defeat.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BN Government is still insensitive and arrogant just like how it was before the 2008 Gereral Elections!!

BN government is still insensitive and arrogant just like how it was before the 2008 general election.

In the recently concluded Sarawak state election, DAP won 12 out of the 15 seats we contested and PKR had won 3.

The result was a combination of unprecedented big swing of Chinese and some percentage of non Chinese support for Pakatan Rakyat.

If more non Chinese had decided to vote for change, then not only had Pakatan Rakyat been able to deny BN of its two thirds majority in the Sarawak State Assembly, it might also have been possible to see a change in government.

I was there to help in the DAP campaign and I could see that days before the polling day that the mood among the Chinese voters was similar to the 2008 general election.

We were confident of achieving unprecedented victory and were hoping that all the races would be prepared to vote for change.

But we missed the opportunity to deny BN its two thirds because though some percentage of non Chinese had voted for change, The non Chinese support was not strong enough.

The Opposition had not been able to deny BN of its two thirds parliamentary majority until the last general election when the Opposition obtained unprecedented support from all three races, namely the Malays, Indians and Chinese.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Indians had played the King Maker role in the 2008 general election and helped bring about a new political landscape.

However, it cannot be denied that the results of the Hulu Selangor, Tenang and Merlimau by elections showed that there was a swing of Indian support back to BN.

Nevertheless, from the feedback which I have been obtaining across the country, I can still feel the strong anti BN feeling among the Indian community.

I therefore don’t subscribe to the view that the die is cast and that the Indians have all decided to back BN again.

I certainly don’t believe that the Indians do not care about or are not concerned about the Interlok issue.

It is a fact that the Interlok novel is not a suitable school text.

It is also true that the inaccuracies and distortions in the novel have hurt the feelings of the Indian community.

Yet why is the BN government so adamant and unwilling to withdraw the book?

The answer is simple.

BN government is still insensitive and arrogant just like how it was before the 2008 general election.

Its arrogance could partly stem from the fact that BN had seen some Indian swing of support in its favour in the recent by elections.

In fact, even MIC is so sure that the Indians have backed BN again that MIC leadership is not making enough efforts to get the Interlok novel withdrawn as a school text.

MIC is so arrogant that its Youth Chief Mohan can now publicly declare that the Indians have now backed BN again.

So come the next general election, the Indian voters must rise to the occasion and play the King Maker role again to create a second political tsunami that will deal BN a more severe debacle.

S'wak polls: Reality check for Pakatan

S'wak polls: Reality check for Pakatan
Bridget Welsh
Apr 23, 11

COMMENT The simple fact in the wake of Saturday's polls is that Pakatan Rakyat has failed to dent the two-thirds majority in Sarawak and deliver the needed electoral gains to push Abdul Taib Mahmud from office.

Much has been made of the unfairness of the polls, the use of money and the electoral irregularities. While these issues were important, they should not be excuses that overshadow shortcomings.

NONEThe Sarawak polls serves to remind the opposition some its weaknesses and without addressing these problems, their own one-third in the Dewan Rakyat could be in jeopardy.

Unlike in Sarawak, there is no dominant Taib issue at the national level and Prime Minister Najib Razak has regained support, particularly among Malays and Indians.

Further, in many ways, the unbalanced nature of the results, with the DAP winning the lion's share of seats, has also created a new set of hurdles and it points to a growing unevenness within the opposition itself.

In the aftermath of the polls, the opposition faces the stark reality that it needs to move from a campaign of promising "change" to actual delivery.

Managing expectations

The first challenge is one of managing expectations. There is tension in the opposition between those who believe the target should be national power and those who see gains as an incremental process.

This played out in Sarawak, where the goal posts were moved during the campaign from denying two-thirds majority to taking power in Sarawak.

Unlike in March 2008, where arguably the BN was unprepared for the opposition challenge, this is no longer the case. While the BN performance was not up to the par compare to the recent set of by-elections, the BN has strengthened is campaign arsenal and unlike the opposition, they achieved their target of securing the two-thirds majority.

This issue of delivery is important in that it damages the credibility of the opposition as a whole, especially its leaders. It reinforces the impression that the opposition is more concerned with winning power than the actual implementation of the promises they make.

NONEStrategically, contesting in so many seats also overstretched the opposition. This was extremely clear for PKR in particular, where it fought in 49 seats and only won three. When there is an overstretch, the impact is that it is more difficult to read the ground and to effectively reach out to voters.

This was particularly apparent given that PKR lacked the same level of on-the-ground knowledge of the BN and the comparative level of familiarity with individual constituencies that its counterpart DAP has with the seats it contested.

It is not a coincidence that PKR won Ba'Kelalan in part due to local knowledge and experience. The opposition often mistook the warm welcome of Sarawakians give visitors with genuine political support. When the final votes came in - even accounting for problems - Pakatan, and PKR especially, had misread the ground and was blinded by hope.

This was because opposition workers were talking to themselves or only to their own "side". This has been true for BN for a long time, but it has now happened to the opposition. The middle ground, the decisive undecided voters who are instrumental in any outcome, are not heard.

Gains in the next election by either side will be determined by which side can effectively capture this middle ground and their ability to avoid listening to hype.

Schism between PKR and Snap

There is no question that a two-party system is evolving in Malaysia and the Sarawak 2011 election contributes to this dynamic. Yet, there remain serious undercurrents in the relationship between Peninsular Malaysia opposition and those in Sabah and Sarawak.

We saw this play out initially in Sabah when the partnership with local leaders in PKR broke apart during the party elections last year. There remains a sense - which runs across all parties - that Peninsular Malaysians are arrogant and insensitive to local leaders and concerns.

Anwar Ibrahim arriving to open Sarawak PKR convention in Batu Kawah, near Kuching. Left is Sarawak PKR chief Baru BianThis contributed to the schism between Snap and PKR and it has left a bad aftertaste. DAP perhaps has less of this dynamic, given it has a longer tenure in Sarawak - it was there from 1978 - and its Sarawakian leaders played a key role in the campaign.

Yet, here too there are concerns about local representation. The challenge for the opposition is how to empower Sarawakians to lead the opposition, given that in a general election there will be nowhere near the level of opposition machinery and manpower that was present in the state elections.

The fact is that the opposition has alienated some local actors whose cooperation they need in order to make further gains. Snap's devastating losses ironically do not help to address the underlying concerns for greater local empowerment. The last-minute negotiations, name calling and character assassinations all weakened the opposition campaign, especially PKR.

Part of the problem lies with the different vision mentioned above, but part of it involves the individuals who just do not understand East Malaysians or adequately respect them. It is important to appreciate differences in outlook and priorities and find shared concerns.

The bottom line is that Sabah and Sarawak are the fulcrum in winning national power, and East Malaysians know it. They will only support something in which they can be an integral part of.

Acid test for S'wakian Pakatan leaders

Now more than ever, there are more demands being placed on the new Sarawakian leaders, especially PKR chief Baru Bian and DAP chief Wong Ho Leng. The challenge is not to just represent the seats and communities they were elected to represent, but to channel the broader sentiments of the opposition into something viable.

azlanPakatan ran quite an ethnically-focused campaigns and this was understandable given the comparative greater segmentation of the ethnic communities in Sarawak, yet the test now is how to move beyond narrow boundaries to reach out not only within Sarawak, but across to the Peninsular.

Opposition's outreach to the other Dayak communities and to the Malay community remains lacking. Baru, who is from the minority Lun Bawang, will also face a difficult task drawing support among the other Dayak communities.

It is obvious that Sarawak is at a crossroads politically, with a political transition coming - eventually. It is also at a crossroads economically, and arguably has been for some time. The concerns with income inequality and poverty, sustainable development, management of land and resources, job and business opportunities and the aging population are pressing.

NONESarawak's infrastructure is also sorely behind those of other Malaysian states. Too many Sarawakians are being forced to leave their own state, and the brain drain and loss of human capital is having a tremendous impact, personally on families and on the state's future prosperity as a whole.

The reality is that the Sarawak Pakatan leaders need to move beyond just identifying the problems, but proposing solutions. This is likely to come over native customary rights (NCR) issues, but this is just a first step toward moving Sarawak away from the worrying trends in its broader political economy.

Moving beyond 'change'

Many Sarawak opposition leaders won because they were credible. This was especially true for PKR in the rural and semi-rural areas. The challenge is how to maintain that credibility and not disappoint voters.

Across Malaysia, the opposition faces the issue of disappointment. The hard reality is that with the Sarawak polls, the campaign for 'change' will no longer be adequate for the coming general election.

It is not enough to just point to problems, to highlight issues of alleged corruption and potential abuse. The opposition has to illustrate what it has done in its watchdog role and in government.

NONEPenang was well-showcased in the Sarawak elections, but the issues in other states were less highlighted, especially in the PAS-governed states. The opposition platform and messages have yet to fully provide a clear positive message for voters as it relies heavily on the negative portrayal of the BN. The 'change' message is getting stale.

The opposition platform has to embrace the middle ground. Key are the issues in the economy and race relations, which have become worryingly more polarised since March 2008, in part due to heightened racial perceptions of political power. The stark reality is that the BN has the advantage in this area.

One opposition challenge is its leadership. The fact is that credibility problems - including overpromising results on Sarawak - have affected perceptions of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. While these issues were merely tangential in Sarawak, they do matter nationally.

Camps are quite divided on issues of the sodomy trial, sex video and a litany of other attacks. The opposition is faced with a difficult task of building the credibility of its leadership as a whole, to illustrate the full team rather than just a handful of individuals.

Najib too faces this challenge as he had yet to showcase his team, but despite a poor start, he has gained some ground and support. The fact is that the attacks on Anwar have had an impact, largely negative (although there has been some backlash on the sex video debacle given the doubts about the actors involved) and this has yet to be addressed.

Coalition imbalance

The Sarawak results reflect an imbalance within the opposition. PAS lost all is seats and this follows its losses in recent by-elections. There are concerns they are losing the Malay ground.

While PKR did gain seats and has a group of strong credible Sarawak leaders, they underperformed. And while the DAP won a larger share of support, there is now concern with its growing power within Pakatan.

NONEWhile I believe all parties made gains in support as shown in my earlier piece and illustrated by Wong Teck Chi's work on Miri and Ong Kian Ming's rigorous analysis as well (although we have some differences due to methodology and sources of data), there is a sense that not all parties are gaining. This will be difficult to manage.

It was much easier after March 2008 when all sides gained. Unevenness creates unease. This dynamic will test the opposition coalition, within individual parties and collectively across parties.

The easy answer is that the DAP is gaining because of strong Chinese support. There is truth to this, but this is too simplistic, in that the DAP won more support across races and all but one of its gains involved changes in Dayak support.

Individual parties within the opposition, especially PAS and PKR, now are faced with the need to address and assess their campaigns.

Two areas were crucial beyond the issue of overstretch above - greater engagement with younger voters and clearer articulation of an alternative vision. To get to this broader issue, these parties have to handle the internal party fissures and divisions, which were openly present during the party polls in PKR last year, which has continued to percolate, and potentially emerge within PAS at their party polls in June.

Tough path ahead

BN's issues of survival and the hard decisions it needs to make are clear and not easy. For Pakatan, the decisions over campaign messages, strategy, leadership and collaboration are as challenging, perhaps even more so given that the opposition is facing a stronger BN.

To ignore the shortcomings and not transform will make the gains in Sarawak evaporate as they did after the 1987 state elections, when there was a split within the BN ranks. As Malaysia slowly moves toward a two-party system, the path ahead will likely continue to be filled with uncertainty.

Gains will only be made by the side that genuinely listens, reaches out, and offers viable leaders and solutions that improve the quality of life of all ordinary Malaysians across race, age, gender, states, and economic background.

Sarawak has shown that for both sides, the path ahead will be tough indeed.

Sweet and sour aftermath of S'wak polls

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at She was in Sarawak to observe the state election and expresses special thanks to Sarawakians across the political spectrum for their kindness, openness and warm hospitality.