Pakatan Rakyat won in Sibu! The Political Tsunami has finally reached East Malaysia
Syabas dan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan buat semua penggerak dan aktivis Pakatan Rakyat. Sekali lagi anda perlihatkan kekuatan yang mengagumkan walau terpaksa berhadapan dengan jentera lawan yang dilengkapi wang ringgit serta dokongan aparat-aparat lainnya. Ternyata keikhlasan, kecekalan dan kegigihan membuahkan hasil bermakna, malah memberi pelajaran berguna kepada Pakatan Rakyat buat merenung erti semangat perjuangan yang selama ini menjadi pemangkin kepada Agenda Selamatkan Malaysia.
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In the run-up to the Sibu by-election, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said it took nothing less than a miracle for his party and Pakatan Rakyat allies to wrest Sibu from Barisan Nasional, pinning their odds at 40 percent.
What Lim was not expecting was a massive swing in Chinese votes in the Chinese-majority Pelawan state constituency, which helped DAP pull an impressive overall 3,000 votes to secure the seat.
Kit Siang’s ‘Sibu miracle’ eventually helped DAP clinch the seat by a tissue-thin 398 votes.
The win was secured despite preliminary estimates indicating that postal, Iban and Malay/Melanau votes would remain mostly unchanged from the 2008 general election results in favouring BN.
The Pelawan factor saw DAP securing, according to preliminary estimates, about 11,000 votes against BN’s 5,000 votes. It is a miraculous turnaround from DAP’s 200-vote loss in the same constituency in the 2008 general elections
‘Pek Moh’ factor
Pelawan, with an 88 percent Chinese electorate, has been simmering over a host of local and national issues.
Their discontent with Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s leadership was evident even to BN, who discreetly avoided putting up posters of the CM – known as “pek moh” (white hair) by the local Chinese – during the campaign in the urban areas.
The Sibuan Chinese, as represented by the Pelawan residents, are upset over lack of flood management, poor management over the economy and Taib’s apparent reluctance to share Sarawak’s economic pie with the Chinese working class.
DAP capitalised on this by attacking Taib over critical issues such as a lack of good governance in Sarawak, his apparent bid to create a political dynasty, and BN’s role in the controversy over the use of the term ‘Allah’ by Sarawak Christians.
The election result is no doubt a major blow for Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), which fielded candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew on behalf of the BN.
SUPP, although multiracial in nature, it is predominantly Chinese. Its rejection by the Chinese community in Sibu is therefore a painful blow, and mirrors similar sentiments in Peninsular Malaysia where the Chinese have resoundingly deserted the MCA and Chinese-based Gerakan.
Alarm bells for Sarawak BN
This spectacular loss will no doubt ring alarm bells in Sarawak BN, who has to call for state elections by next year. The results affirm their fear that the Pakatan, now allied with local party Snap, will make further inroads since the 2006 state elections, into what has been a Barisan stronghold.
Speculations are abound that state elections will be held later this year to serve as a barometer for a general election next year. But the defeat in Sibu may delay BN’s plan.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister and BN chairperson Najib Abdul Razak will have to do some serious soul-searching after failing to secure a win despite the millions of ringgit he has poured into the constituency, and his unprecedented three-time visits.
Under normal circumstances, the BN chairperson would stay away from the by-election, allowing his deputy to run the show.
His personal touch in the Hulu Selangor campaign has won BN some votes. It however did not work in Sibu.
For Pakatan, the Sibu win will bring a much-needed shot in the arm, after losing two straight by-elections – Bagan Pinang last year, and a humiliating defeat in Hulu Selangor last month.
The win also gives Pakatan an added push in its campaign to win over East Malaysia, which thus far as been unresponsive to the opposition, particularly those based in the Peninsula.