Posted on 21st March 2008 by Bob K at bobjots : redux
The Mystery That Is Sarawak Politics
Whether we like it or not, the politics of Borneo are a mystery to most of us here in the Peninsular. Despite the almost total sweep of the contested seats in both Sabah and Sarawak, I am pretty sure that Barisan Nasional (BN) would be making a mistake to assume that their position is secure there. I have been informed that voting trends tend to go along personality lines rather than party lines. So I reckon it would mainly be because that the dominant personalities happen to be part of BN parties (for now) that the BN gained the victory that they did in Sabah and Sarawak.
Poverty and the loss of indigenous land rights (which makes a mockery of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution) remains major problems in the Borneo states so there exists also a genuine fear of losing Federal support under such circumstances. Ethnic disparities and divisions, while very much hidden below the surface; can be in some ways more pronounced in the Borneo states than they are in the Peninsular due to the more identifiable ethnic categories in the various professions (sort of like pre 1969 Malaysia).
I came across this blog which is penned by an ethnic Bidayuh from Sarawak and one of his entries tried to give a brief panorama of the Sarawak political landscape. Its worth a read even as a primer.
I think it would do us good to attempt to engage them, not because of the number of Parliamentary seats they hold, but as a means of walking together with our fellow Malaysians as we try to carve out a new national identity for all of us. This doesn't mean imposing Peninsular norms on the Borneo states but acknowledging them as equals and actually conduct meaningful exchanges rather than continuing to treat them as de-facto colonies, whether politically and psychologically.
There's a lot that we can learn from our fellow countrymen from across the sea and I am sure they wouldn't mind some of the socio-infrastructural development that exists in the Peninsular coming their way.
Oh yeah .. I love this guy's analogies too (in reference to the rumour that the MP for Serian, Richard Riot, has left the BN); Good Friday is Time to Rebuild the Wall of Jerusalem!