Forthcoming Sarawak state election will decide whether the implementation of the Pakatan Harapan “pillar-promise” of “Return Sarawak and Sabah to the status accorded in Malaysia Agreement 1963” has full support of Sarawak

The voters of Sandakan surprised themselves, Sabah and Malaysia when they gave the DAP candidate Vivian Wong a landslide victory in the Sandakan by-election on May 11, with a historic majority of 11,521 votes despite a low voter turnout of 54.4%.

Many thought that Sandakan is a constituency with predominantly Chinese voters in the 75%-80% region, but they cannot be wrong as the ethnic composition of its voter make-up is Chinese 51% and Sabah bumipuera 49%.

This makes Vivian Wong’s landslide victory all the more significant as she won all 17 polling districts in the by-election and 91 out of the 93 polling streams – making it a very representative and rounded victory.

The level of Chinese support actually increased slightly to approximately 95 percent, a level which Pakatan Harapan only achieved in 12 out of 24 parliamentary constituencies with more than 50 percent of Chinese voters in GE14.

Furthermore, the level of DAP support among the Sabah bumiputera voters also showed an approximate 10 percent increase to secure the support of the majority of the Sabah bumiputera voters in the constituency.

The landslide DAP/Pakatan Harapan/Warisan victory in the Sandakan parliamentary by-election has multiple importance and significance, including:

(i) A national turnaround in political stocks of Pakatan Harapan after three by-election defeats in Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau from January to April 2019;

(ii) A knock-out blow to the two myths that “UMNO is Malay, and the Malays are UMNO” and the invincibility of the shameless “Malu Apa Bossku” campaign of former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

(iii) As a “finance twitter” article aptly describes it, Shafie won the “personal war” between him and Najib in the Sandakan by-election. Bossku in Sabah is Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and not Najib.

(iv) Setback for the UMNO-PAS axis, demonstrating that PAS leadership has lost the moral high ground after associating itself with UMNO kleptocracy and the politics of lies, intolerance and extremism.

(v) Reaffirmation of the voters of Sandakan for the task of a New Malaysia, New Sabah and New Sandakan.

(vi) Redemption of our international honour, prestige and dignity, for the “Malu Apa Bossku” campaign is no less a slur on our national reputation and dignity as the 1MDB scandal and the infamy, ignominy and iniquity of being condemned by the world as a global kleptocracy before Najib was thrown out of Putrajaya.

After the Sandakan by-election, all eyes will be on the Sarawak state general elections, which should be held next year although the five-year mandate of the Sarawak state legislative assembly will only expire in mid-2021.

Just as the voters of Sandakan voted for the future in a New Malaysia and a New Sabah, I hope the voters of Sarawak will support a New Malaysia and a New Sarawak in the forthcoming state general election.

One of the five pillars of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto in the 14th General Election is “Return Sarawak and Sabah to the status accorded in Malaysia Agreement 1963”.

It is most unfortunate and regrettable that the first step taken by the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government in Putrajaya to honour this pillar was blocked and frustrated by the combined votes of the GPS, UMNO and PAS MPs which prevented the Constitution Amendment Bill on Article 1(2) of the Malaysian Constitution to be defeated for lack of the requisite two-thirds parliamentary majority, i.e. support of 148 MPs.

The amendment of Article 1(2) of the Malaysian Constitution will be the first step to carry out the pillar to “Return Sarawak and Sabah to the status accorded in Malaysia Agreement 1963”, such as:

  • To ensure the prosperity of the people of Sarawak and Sabah by enhancing the states’ economic growth;
  • Create more employment opportunities for Sarawakian and Sabahan youths;
  • Making Sarawak and Sabah a model harmonious society;
  • Improving the quality of education and health services;
  • Advancing the interests of the rural and remote populations;
  • Decentralisation of power to Sarawak and Sabah; and
  • To return and guarantee the right of customary land of the people of Sarawak and Sabah.

The forthcoming Sarawak state general election will determine whether the “pillar-promise” of Pakatan Harapan on “Return Sarawak and Sabah to the status accorded in Malaysia Agreement 1963” could be fully implemented, with the full support and co-operation of the Sarawak state government.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri