The Chinese Dilemma in Sarawak
If it’s true that the pragmatism of the Chinese dictates their voting for a stable party to represent their interests, then the Chinese in Sarawak have a dilemma when they go to the polls this weekend. Neither SUPP nor DAP is fit for the “stable” label.
SUPP is fighting with its splinter, UPP, and DAP with its Pakatan partner, PKR.
Of course, at this point in time, the Chinese vote is almost irrelevant if one is thinking about the overall result of the election.
Virtually all predictions point to a Barisan Nasional victory, thanks in large part to the popularity of Chief Minister Adenan Satem.
The question that remains for the Chinese voters is whether they want a large representation in the state assembly or a voice in the state cabinet.
Adenan has promised to give them that voice, and he has shown that he is true to his promises.
Despite goodwill towards Adenan, however, Chinese support for BN this weekend remains uncertain, although Bernama has been churning out much optimism through its reports.
According to the national news agency, political observers are confident that SUPP, running in 13 constituencies, will win back some of the 12 Chinese seats it lost in 2011.
“Back” is the operative word here. The party lost its dominance of Chinese politics to DAP in that election, and was subsequently set back further by the resignation of several party stalwarts, who went on to form UPP.
Bernama’s glowing reports lose their credibility somewhat when one considers the continuing altercation between SUPP and UPP.
“The Chinese community does not want a political party that is fighting,” said Temenggong Lu Kim Yong, Kuching’s highest-ranked Chinese community leader.
“The sentiment on the ground is that when you guys are fighting, I will not support you because you have no time to serve the people.”
Political analyst Jeniri Amir agrees, saying that even the possibility of a Chinese deputy chief minister in the form of SUPP’s Senator Sim Kui Hian may not greatly influence the Chinese vote.
“To be fair, SUPP has turned over a new leaf and put in a lot of professionals,” Jeniri said. “But with its ongoing fight with UPP, I don’t think its campaign will have much impact on the Chinese voters, even if the carrot of a Chinese deputy chief minister is dangled before them.”
He acknowledged that Adenan’s popularity will result in a return of some Chinese votes to BN. “With Adenan, there will be a swing, but not a big one,” he said. “At best, four Chinese seats could return to BN.”
And that doesn’t give any reason for DAP to come out cheering either. Considering recent developments on the opposition side, the prospects presented by voting for DAP seem equally unsavoury.
The opposition is just as fractured. A huge crack in their wall appeared when DAP and PKR failed to reach an agreement on seat distribution, and fielded candidates in what will now become multi-cornered tussles in several constituencies.
The crack was soon widened by the petty fighting that followed. The quarrelling in Batu Kitang is an example of this. DAP campaigner Ng Wei Aik is continuing with his social media assault on PKR’s candidate for the seat, Voon Shiak Ni.
Even ignoring the fact that Ng is the MP for Tanjong – that is to say, a West Malaysian who really should have no business stepping into Sarawak ground-level disputes – the continued fighting will do little to engender the Chinese community’s love for his party.
It doesn’t help that he has descended to pettiness with his caustic Facebook comments against PKR, such as telling it to “go to hell”.
Above all else, the Chinese value community. To divide ranks with infighting is beyond stupid at this point, and will do even less towards denying BN the two-third majority it is aiming for.