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Challenge to the six DAP Sarawak State Assembly members – to ensure that the RM25 billion development of Sarawak under Ninth Malaysia Plan is carried out fairly and efficiently, and leads the nation in integrity with the lowest “leakage” of all states
With a switch-around of less than 300 votes, the number of DAP Sarawak State Assembly members would have increased by 50 per cent to nine, namely Pelawan, Dudong and Repok – with three DAP Sarawak State Assembywomen.
Everybody now says that the reasons for SUPP’s losses are well-known – the discontent of the urban voters about the leasehold expiration on their property, the fuel price hike and the ineffective and impotent role of the SUPP.
While such an analysis is right, it is not complete, as it has failed to take into account the rising discontent of all Sarawakians reflected by a general upswing of anti-Barisan Nasional votes among all communities in the state.
This is why there has been a drastic drop in the majorities of the top Sarawak Barisan Nasional leaders, including the Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. George Chan and Tan Sri Alfred Jabu. In Saribas, the BN won by a thin 94-vote majority compared with its 2,197 majority in the 2001 state elections.
There is another important reason which is being glossed over – that the Sarawak state general election result was not only a vote against the SUPP and its President Dr. George Chan but also against the Sarawak Barisan Nasion leader and Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud.
I salute the voters of Sarawak who had risen up to speak their mind in clear, unmistakable and unequivocable terms.
Although SUPP President Dr. George Chan claimed that he had heard the message of the voters “loud and clear”, but he seemed to be “tone deaf” as he blamed the SUPP’s defeat on the “betting” by the Sarawakian Chinese.
There were many factors for DAP’s unprecedented electoral success on Saturday. There were the state, local and even candidate factors which have been extensively written up after the polls – land titles, protests at the fuel price hikes, local development or lack of development, candidate quality and material, etc.
But there were other factors probably even more important in their far-reaching implications for Sarawak and Malaysia which had influenced voter decisions, giving the Sarawak election results an impact going beyond the borders of the state.
Let me mention three of them which had been discussed at the mammoth DAP election ceramahs:
Firstly, the calamity of Taib’s last five years as Chief Minister of Sarawak for which he was sworn in on Sunday, having served 25 years as head of government. Saturday’s vote is a clear verdict that Sarawak does not want to earn the epithet of a state of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” – where nobody dared to point out the excesses of the ruler, like the morality tale of the Emperor strutting around his kingdom without clothes, with no courtier who dared to point out his foibles – until a child blurted out that the Emperor had no clothes.
As amply illustrated by human history and that of our own country, the last few years of a high-handed, powerful and arrogant ruler are the most dangerous years for the people and the state if there are no effective checks and balances. Although six DAP Assembly representatives or even nine Opposition members constituting some 12.7% of the State Assembly cannot stop Taib from any decision or course of action, the unprecedented DAP and opposition presence in the State Assembly will be able to play the role of a public watchdog to ferret, expose, oppose, condemn and mobilize public opinion against all forms of excesses and abuses of power, including corruption.
This will ensure greater accountability, transparency and good governance in Sarawak in the next five years.
Secondly, the strong showing of the DAP candidates reflects the endorsement of Sarawakians for the DAP’s open support for the reform pledge and programme of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in particular his anti-corruption campaign which had so far been mere slogan than deeds. With the Sarawak election result, DAP will be able to take and even stronger stand in Parliament and the State Assembly to urge Abdullah to “walk the talk” in his reform agenda to fight corruption as well as invite Barisan Nasional elected representatives to take a common stand to give meaningful support to the Prime Minister’s campaign against corruption.
Thirdly, Sarawak has set the pace and provided the lead to the rest of Malaysia for the development of a more mature democracy, where the Opposition is fully accepted by the government as the essence of democracy. This is part of the “first-class mentality” without which the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the 15-year National Mission objective for Malaysia to achieve the Vision 2020 goal of a fully developed nation will not succeed. It is now for the rest of Malaysia to catch up and their turn will come in the 12th national general elections which should be held before April 2008 but might be held even next year.
Let me try to give one concrete example as to what these three implications will pan out in practical terms.
One challenge the six DAP Sarawak State Assembly members will face, for instance, is to ensure that the RM25 billion development of Sarawak under Ninth Malaysia Plan is carried out fairly and efficiently, and leads the nation in integrity with the lowest “leakage” of all states.
I had said in Parliament that if there is “leakage”, whether corruption, criminal breach of trust, extravagance or other malpractices of 20% to 30% of the RM220 billion development allocations under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, we are looking at astronomical public losses of between RM44 billion to RM66 billion in the next five years.
For Sarawak, a 20 to 30 per cent “leakage”: of the RM25 billion development allocations in Sarawak under the Ninth Malaysia Plan will mean at public financial loss of RM5 billion to RM7.5 billion.
Will this RM7.5 billion go to create 7,500 millionaires or 2,000 millionaires, five hundred-millionaires and five billionaires or 500 millionaires, 100 ten-millionaires, 10 hundred-millionaires and one who will make five billions from the leakage of the Ninth Malaysia Plan development in Sarawak in the next five years?
The people of Sarawak have opened up a new chapter of democracy, accountability, transparency and good governance for Sarawak and Malaysia on Saturday – but it could only be the first step of a journey of thousand miles - of a long, hard and arduous journey and commitment.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman