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August 24, 2010

Jungle campaign nightmare for S’wak opposition


Taken from Hornbill Unleashed

NONE

By – AFP

Harrison Ngau’s description of dirty politics in the rainforest state of Sarawak on Borneo island reads like a chapter in a spy novel, complete with subterfuge, threats, and contraband.

The amiable one-time lawmaker says the challenges he had to overcome to score an unlikely election victory will again face Malaysia’s opposition when it contests statewide polls expected within months.

A political earthquake in 2008 national elections, which shook the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition’s half-century grip on power, has rendered timber-rich Sarawak and neighbouring Sabah state extremely strategic.

With Borneo now one of its last bastions of support, the coalition must fend off the resurgent opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim and retain its hold there in the next national elections if it wants to stay in office.

The upcoming Sarawak state polls will be a keenly watched bellwether with far-reaching implications for the multicultural, Muslim-majority nation which Barisan Nasional has ruled since independence in 1957.

bn supreme council mt meeting sapp sabah issue 190608 taib mahmudBut Harrison Ngau is quite sure that going on past performance, the coalition – fronted in Sarawak by ageing chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, who has been in power for 29 years – will put up a tough fight.

“It was a nightmare and still remains a nightmare for the opposition to win in Sarawak polls,” said Ngau, who served one term in parliament in the 1990s and is now a leading lawyer campaigning for native land rights.

When he decided to stand for office as an independent, no one gave him a chance of winning as his constituency was so huge, with voters scattered across jungles reachable only by boat, four-wheel-drive vehicles and plane.

“We had to campaign in Bario (highlands district) but we could not get a flight nor send our election pamphlets. The order from BN was: ‘Ngau should not set foot in Bario. His posters should not be seen here’,” he said.

Facing defeat, he came up with the idea of smuggling his election posters by hiding them inside empty biscuit tins, and air freighting them secretly to Bario, where they were quietly intercepted by friends.

NONE“The next morning my posters were hanging in Bario. It shocked my BN rival. To win elections in Sarawak one has to behave like a commando,” said the 49-year-old in his offices in the coastal town of Miri.

Ngau says the state remains in thrall to powerful political masters and tycoons who control the timber and plantations industries that have plundered the state’s natural resources.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance has set its sights on capturing Sarawak, campaigning on land rights for indigenous people, poverty and allegations of rampant political corruption.Read more here

June 29, 2010

Tribal leaders warned not to vote opposition in violation of Malaysia’s Constitution


 

Taken from  Malaysia Today

 

(Bernama) – Any tribal leader who supports the opposition in the next Sarawak state election will face immediate termination of service as the action is a very serious misconduct, said Sarawak Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister Michael Manyin.

“Tribal leaders are the government’s agents in developing local communities and are not supposed to go against the government,” he said at a ceremony to present appointment letters to Bidayuh and Melayu Temenggong (paramount leader) of Samarahan, here today.

In Sarawak, the post of Temenggong is the highest ranked community leader in the local administration system, followed by pemanca, penghulu and tribal leader.

Manyin said as the state election would be held soon, tribal leaders should enhance their efforts to assist the government by disseminating information about the success of the state government in bringing development to the people in the remote areas.

“To improve the government’s delivery system, the state government wants tribal leaders to be open-minded in accepting criticism and suggestions,” he said.

Manyin said the post of tribal leader was not a permanent post as it had been limited to four years.

“No voting or election is needed in appointing a new tribal leader as he will be appointed according to the approval given by the district officer, division resident and state secretary,” he said.

Former teacher, Robert Sulis Ridu, 75, was appointed as the Bidayuh Temenggong of Samarahan representing the Bidayuhs, while former religious teacher, Chek Bujang, 59, was appointed as Melayu Temenggong of Samarahan to represent the Malays.

Bidayuh Temenggong will lead 152 Bidayuh community and tribal leaders while Melayu Temenggong will lead 111 Malay community and tribal leaders in Samarahan.

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