Sarawak general election a setback for DAP which must learn from the mistakes but DAP will not be deterred from the Malaysian Dream of making Malaysia a world-class great nation before Malaysia’s Centennial in 2063

I was in Keningau yesterday and Pensiangan this morning to celebrate an early Christmas as there was no Christmas celebration last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I had campaigned in the Sarawak general election and I had hoped that DAP will win half-a-dozen seats at the end of the campaign. The election results produced two DAP seats – Padungan and Pending.

I congratulate Abang Johari Openg for the stunning victory in the Sarawak general election. DAP accepts the verdict of the people of Sarawak in the general election.

If not for the low voter turnout – in the 2018 national election it was 77.2% but yesterday it was less than 60% - and the split in opposition votes because of a multiplicity of candidates, DAP would have won another five seats, Pujut in Miri, Pelawan and Bukit Assek in Sibu, Tanjung Batu in Bintulu and Kota Sentosa in Kuching. In Tanjong Batu, we lost by 23 votes, in Pelawan we lost by 100 votes and in Bukit Assek we lost by 874 votes.

There are many significant aspects of the 2021 Sarawak general election – one of which is that the candidates which advocate Merdeka for Sarawak did very badly, with one party losing deposits in 64 seats and another party losing deposit in 12 seats. Nine independents also lost deposits

This showed that the call for Merdeka for Sarawak did not have much support. The call for Merdeka would not be welcomed by the Malay/Melanau community and it is not easy to get the Dayak community to support it. If it ends up being the stand of a small section of the Chinese community, it could create a very dangerous situation. The same applies to Sabah.

Parliament passed the 2021 Constitution Amendment Bill with two-thirds majority on Dec. 14, 2021. But it was the Sarawak government leaders (the predecessors of GPS) who had passed the 1976 Constitution Amendment Act (with nine DAP MPs opposing) which caused Sarawakians to lose their full citizenship rights as Malaysians entitled to fair financial allocations, true autonomy rights in education and health, proper allocation of oil funds and equitable development expenditures in accordance with Malaysia Agreement 1963 for 45 years.

The Sarawak general election should see a punishment of the GPS for causing Sarawakians to lose these rights for half-a-century, but this was not the case. Instead, the Pakatan Harapan parties were punished for failure to fulfill election pledges in 22 months - when they had a mandate for five years.

This is clearly unjust, but life is full of such injustices.

The Sarawak general election is a setback for DAP. We must learn from these mistakes but DAP will not be deterred from the Malaysian Dream of making Malaysia a world-class great nation before Malaysia’s Centennial in 2063.

I was in Keningau in 2010 where I came to learn of Batu Sumpah Keningau 1963 and the three terms of land, customary rights and freedom of religion which were engraved as fundamental conditions for Sabah’s formation of Malaysia in 1963. I raised the issue of the Batu Sumpah Keningau in Parliament in 2010 and I was shocked to find that I was the first to raise the issue in Parliament.

The Constitution Amendment Bill passed by the Dewan Rakyat with two-thirds majority on 14th December 2021 is only the first step to restore to Sabahans and Sarawakians their rights which were taken away 45 years ago in the 1976 Constitution Amendment Bill.

In restoration of these lost rights, the Batu Sumpah Keningau must feature prominently. The last half-a-century has seen a loss of these rights.

For instance, there are more and more voices challenging Malaysia as a plural society with many religions as there are political leaders who say that only a Muslim can be Chief Minister or Yang di Pertua in Sabah and Sarawak.

This is not what the Rukun Negara says, and the question is why we have extremists who reject the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural basis of Malaysia elevated to become Cabinet Ministers.

On January 1 next year, a new political scenario will emerge when those between 18 years to 21 years not only can vote, but can stand as candidates for parliamentary and state assembly elections. They can become Ministers in Sabah and in Malaysia.

I call on Malaysian youths in this 18-21 age group to come forward to lead Malaysia to become a world-class great nation.

I hope to see Sabahans who are in the 18-21 age group become candidates in the 15th general election and become Members of Parliament – but this is not confined to Sabah, as I hope to see others in the age group in Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia to become DAP candidates as well.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri