Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sarawak is the litmus test for the next GE

Salleh Said Keruak

What we saw in Sarawak yesterday was not just about a state election but also about the general sentiments of the voters. The message the voters in Sarawak sent is more or less the same sentiments all over rural Malaysia, although urban Malaysians may have a slightly different view, as has always been since Merdeka.

Some are attributing the Sarawak state election results due to the low voter turnout. In the last Sarawak state election in 2011 the voter turnout was also 70%, as it was yesterday as well. So how can this have been a major factor?

We must remember in 2011 Barisan Nasional won 77% of the seats compared to 88% this time around. And this was also based on the same 70% voter turnout. So there must be other reasons other than just voter turnout at play here.

One major factor, of course, was the Chief Minister Adenan Satem himself. Even the opposition reluctantly admitted today that they lost to Adenan’s popularity. And both sides of the political divide talk about ‘Team Adenan’, admitting that this was a major deciding factor.

The opposition, on the other hand, had no team. They were terribly fragmented and divided. And while for Barisan Nasional the local Sarawakians were allowed to manage their own affairs, the opposition saw too much meddling from Kuala Lumpur that the voters were no longer sure who was calling the shots.

Voters want to know who will run the state or the country if the opposition wins. The fact that the opposition, whether at state or federal level, does not have a shadow cabinet creates this uncertainty in the minds of the voters. The opposition is not able to set up a shadow cabinet because if they do attempt to set one up there will be utter chaos when infighting and jostling for positions start. And the voters are aware of this.

Let us just admit that Barisan Nasional at both local and federal level ran a good campaign and it paid off. And credit has to go to Team Adenan and Team Najib. And if this continues then we are going to see the Sarawak 2016 success emulated in the next general election as well.

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