Speech By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng During The Sarawak DAP State Ordinary Convention In Kuching On 9.6.2013.
4 Challenges For Sarawak DAP In The 2015 State General Elections
1. First of all, I would like to congratulate Saudara Wong Ho Leng and acknowledge his leadership in once again breaking new ground for DAP in Sarawak in the recently concluded 13th General Elections.
2. DAP Sarawak followed up its historic 2011 Sarawak State elections performance, where we won 12 out of the 15 Pakatan state seats, by winning 5 out of the 6 Pakatan parliamentary seats in the 13th GE.
3. A most remarkable victory was achieved in the Sibu parliamentary constituency, where our Saudara Oscar Ling, achieved the seemingly impossible by increasing our winning majority from 398 in the 2010 by-election to 2,841! Not only did he increase our winning majority more than 7 fold, he did this against Lau Lee Ming, a Temenggong, no less, and also a family member of the powerful KTS group in Sibu.
4. Under Saudara Wong Ho Leng’s leadership, DAP also managed a clean sweep in the Sibu area by winning Sarikei by 505 (Saudara Wong Ling Biu) and also Lanang by 8,630 votes (Saudari Alice Lau).
5. In Kuching, Saudara Chong Chien Jen successfully increased his majority in Bandar Kuching from 9,952 in 2008 to 19,642 in 2013. Under his leadership in Kuching, we also managed to capture the Stampin seat with an 18,670 vote majority. This was a seat which we had lost by 3,070 votes in 2008. Our candidate in Stampin, Julian Tan, who is also a new comer, defeated a SUPP heavy weight and Deputy Minister, Yong Khoon Seng.
6. We also broke new ground in many non-Chinese and non-urban areas. For the first time in DAP’s history, we fielded 6 non-Chinese candidates in 6 non-Chinese majority districts. In fact, DAP fielded more non-Chinese candidates compared to Chinese candidates (6 versus 5) in GE13! And in 4 out of these 6 parliament seats, we managed to reduce BN’s support even though we did not managed to win these seats.
7. Mordi Brimol in Mas Gading, Edward Luak in Serian, Hai bin Merawin @ Bonaventure in Mukah, Ramli Anak Malak in Kapit, Dr. John Brian in Bintulu and Dr Bob Baru in Lawas should also commended for putting up an excellent showing despite being outspent by at least 10 to 1 by their opponents.
8. Dr. John Brian, for example, together with deputy chairman, Saudara Chew Chin Sing, managed to decrease BN’s support by 15%, from 73% in 2008 to 58% in 2013.
9. I am confident that as we continue to work hard and penetrate into the semi-urban and rural areas in Sarawak, our performance can only improve especially in the next Sarawak state elections that are due in 2016.
10. DAP Sarawak now has 5 parliament and 12 state seats, a far cry from the 1 parliament and 1 state seat after the 2004 General Election.
11. To fully appreciate where we are today, we need to acknowledge the blood, sweat and tears that were spilled by those who had worked tirelessly on the ground without enjoying the fruits of their labour for many, many years. This includes Saudara Chong Siew Chiang, the founder of DAP in Sarawak, who first competed in the 1979 Sarawak state elections. He and other senior leaders of DAP Sarawak had to struggle through 4 state elections in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1991 of not winning a single state seat.
12. It was only in the 1996 Sarawak state elections when the party made a breakthrough by winning 3 state seats, including Saudara Wong Ho Leng’s 226 vote victory in Bukit Assek. This was followed by the setback in 2001 where we only won one state seat. Another minor breakthrough was achieved when DAP in Sarawak won a then record 6 state seats in the 2006 general elections. And of course, we all know how DAP doubled its state seats on April 16, 2011 to a record 12 state seats.
13. Without the hard work and sacrifice of the party’s founding leaders in Sarawak, DAP would not be where it is today. Their struggles through the difficult times is a stark reminder that we can never be complacent and to take for granted our current position of strength especially in the urban areas. If we fall away from our principles, if we betray the trust of our voters, we can easily end up in the position which SUPP, MCA and GERAKAN find themselves in today.
Sarawak Problems Are Malaysian Problems – Where Is ‘1 Malaysia, 1 Price’?
14. While we must never forget our history and our roots, our challenges lay in the future. I foresee 4 important challenges for DAP moving forward in the state of Sarawak.
15. Firstly, DAP in Sarawak must rise up to the challenge of enhancing the party’s stature as a national party. This means that issues of concern to Sarawak must be seen as national issues and that national issues must also be seen and interpreted through a Sarawakian perspective. Sarawak problems are Malaysian problems.
16. We have already seen how allegations of massive corruption against the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, affects not just the good name of the state of Sarawak and its people, but it also tarnishes the reputation of the country as a whole. We have also seen how cases involving palm oil plantations in Sarawak not obtaining Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification can affect the reputation of the entire industry in the country.
17. When is the “One Malaysia, One Price” going to be effected? When is poverty going to be eradicated and Native Customary Land of native Ibans going to be respected. No longer is it acceptable to have the landless and poorest in one of the richest and largest state in Malaysia.
18. While fully accepting the co-equal status of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, we can no longer accept the false dichotomy between what happens in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia do not affect one another. The notion that ‘whatever happens in Sarawak stays in Sarawak’ is clearly a false notion that has been propagated by the BN in order to scare Sarawakians into continuing to support the BN and the Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud.
Polls Reform Of ‘One-Man, One Vote, One-Value’ Shall Not Reduce The Number Or Proportion Of Parliamentary Seats In Sabah And Sarawak But Serves To Reduce Unfair Disparities That Devalues Democracy Within Both States.
19. Secondly, we must continue to fight for electoral reform in the country and especially in Sabah and Sarawak. Tens of thousands of Sarawakians who are working in Peninsular Malaysia, but do not have the time nor the resources to go back home to Sarawak to vote have been effectively disenfranchised. Sarawakians who are living and working in Peninsular Malaysia, must be permitted to cast a postal ballot just like how Malaysians overseas who are already registered cast their votes as postal voters. Without this change, the turnout rate in Sarawak, which was 76% in GE2013, cannot be on par with turnout in Peninsular Malaysia, which was 86.5% in GE2013.
20. We must also fight for the ‘one-man, one-vote, one-value principle’ in the upcoming re-delineation exercise so that the unfair advantages enjoyed by the BN can be somewhat reduced. The last re-delineation exercise in Sarawak was completed in 2005. Eight years on, in 2013, it is possible that the Election Commission (SPR / EC) may want to conduct this exercise for Sarawak as well. If the Sarawak review occurs this year, then we must push for the size of the disparity between voters per seat to be significantly reduced.
21. Here I would like to stress that the present proportion of parliamentary seats allocated to Sabah and Sarawak shall not change, out of respect for the traditional rights of both states granted when they joined Malaya in 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia. In other words, what we are seeking for is neither reducing the number of parliamentary seats nor reducing the proportion of parliamentary seats in a future enlarged Malaysian Parliament.
22. Regardless of the number of parliament and state seats which may or may not be added, the obvious examples of unequal distribution of voters in seats WITHIN Sarawak is already a great cause of concern and a violation of the ‘one-man, one-vote, one-value’ principle. For example, we can no longer sustain having Stampin with 84000 voters on the one hand and Igan with a mere 17,815 voters (ratio of 4.75: 1). The same applies to the state seats as well where the largest seat, Pending, has more than 30,000 voters while the smallest, Ba’kelalan, has only slightly more than 7,000 voters, a ratio of 4.3 to 1.
23. The focus here should be to reduce the size of these disparities. DAP appreciates that geography can be equally important as demography in a state as large as Sarawak. Accordingly DAP is proposing a special consideration of a maximum voter disparity between constituencies in both states of 100%, instead of the baseline 15% disparity that was in the original Merdeka Constitution of 1957 for Peninsular Malaysia.
Kick-off For The 2015 Sarawak General Elections
24. Thirdly, we must kick off the next new phase by preparing for the coming state General Elections expected in 2015. Even though there is 2 years more to go, we have to strengthen our machinery into rural areas in a non-threatening and more persuasive manner. The important issues will again revolve around BN’s mercenary rule where resources are reserved for the few and when will Tan Sri Taib Mahmud retire as promised in the 2011 state general elections. The new Sarawak DAP Committee will be required to submit their election plans and preparation to the CEC.
25. DAP Sarawak has already announced that it will plan to work the ground in an additional 23 non-Chinese majority seats in preparation for the next state general elections. We will be asking all DAP ADUNs and MP, especially the 128 non-Sarawak MPs and ADUNs, to actively assist in the rural areas to break down and dismantle Taib Mahmud’s and BN’s rural domination.
PR’s Ideals, Principles And People-Centric Policies Can Bring A Better Future.
26. Fourthly, we must focus of ideals, principles and people-centric policies to counter corruption, privileged interests and cronyism. Our challenge is to show rural Sarawak that our policies will make a positive difference in their lives. Rural Sarawak must be fully aware of the benefits of DAP’s proposed RM1 billion Dayak Endowment Fund. Many do not know how change matters and can make a better future for their children.
27. Whilst the 2013 general elections is an urban tsunami covering all races whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban, including Sarawak, we have to instill courage, Malaysian goodwill and hope to dispel the hatred, fear and even violence perpetuated by BN. For Sarawakians, the question is even more pressing to ensure that Sarawakians receive a fair share of their natural resources such as increasing the oil and royalty from the present miserly 5% given by BN’s Petronas to 20%.
28. If DAP in Sarawak and in the rest of Malaysia can rise up to embrace these 4 challenges, I am confident that Sarawak will play a key role in ensuring that Pakatan wins a simple majority in the next general elections, in GE14. The key to opening the GE14 door is for Pakatan to break new ground in the 2015 Sarawak state elections as a precursor to Pakatan winning power in Putrajaya.
29. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin is going on a rampage to punish those who support PR, especially the Chinese community. This makes a mockery of democracy as people should not be punished for making a free choice. If PR can treat everyone fairly in the states we rule, why can’t BN behave like a Malaysian, and not like a bad bully that continues to discriminate and take political revenge?
30. The only alternative to have a bright future for Sarawak and Malaysia is to change the BN government. Let us prove that the power of the people is more powerful than those people in power. Have a good State Ordinary Convention and good luck to those elected leaders. You have a lot of work to do. Thank you.
—–Mandarin Version —-