Monday, December 22, 2008

Sarawak: The Next Beach Head

Sarawak started the tsunami wave in 2006 by electing 8 opposition state assemblymen and women, a vast increase from the original 1 sole representative. By 2010/2011, Malaysia will once again focus its attention on Sarawak as it'll once again hold its state elections. DAP will certainly put its best foot forward to carry on the wave of change by winning more seats than the 6 we currently have.

DAP Sarawak is also actively setting up branches with higher bumiputera membership, in part to extend our reach into the rural areas of Sarawak. The following is a recent blog post by our DAP Sarawak state chairman and state assemblyman for Bukit Assek, Sdr Wong Ho Leng on its efforts.

In November 2008, DAP approved the formation of two (2) predominantly Iban branches at Sibu Jaya and Sungai Merah, both in Sibu (Another predominantly Iban branch approved was Bintangor Scheme B).

This morning, members from these 2 branches gathered at the Sibu DAP office to hold their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elect the first office bearers.

The small DAP premises was filled to the full by these members. Every chair was occupied. Some members even had to stand throughout the meeting.

More branches will be formed in rural areas in the next few months. The formation of these branches will bear testimony that we are not content to work in the Chinese areas alone and shout for the rural constituencies from outside. We are determined to go rural, and to see improvement in the lives of all races, in particular, the economically besieged and poor Dayaks. These rural areas should have DAP Iban leaders serve them. They should go for change.

Several Iban leaders spoke at the meeting before the election of office bearers. They had one common theme in their speeches – the BN Government has neglected them despite promising the skies. They felt that their leaders have always resorted to threats and intimidation, dissuading them to join Opposition parties. They urged their members not to fear, because their community leaders are paid by the BN to speak for the BN Government. Often, their plights have not been relayed to the Government. Their voices were not heard. Needless to day, their speech were laced with the desire to see change.

Several SUPP and Dayak leaders used to tell me that the political sky-change in Sarawak will take place if the Ibans wake from their bondage to their leaders. These people are poor, and that is an asset to the BN. They hold them by the thread of poverty. They would promise them the sky but will not deliver.

I can see the desire to see change in the mindset of the Ibans. It looks like the end of BN Government in Sarawak is at hand.

In my speech, I said that the Ibans comprise 30% of the population in Sarawak. Though the biggest race, they are the poorest in Sarawak. They face problems not only in their land but also with earning a living in Sarawak. Many of the Iban youths have to leave Sarawak to work in the factories in Johore, Selangor and Penang. It is said that there are 40,000 Ibans working in Johore alone. They are also employed in the factories in Singapore.

Why can't they seek employment in the state of their birth? Why have they to look for greener pastures outside Sarawak?

I said from the bottom of my heart that the Ibans are poor because the BN Government has not looked after them well. With so many years in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I know that their elected wakil rakyat are happy with the BN Government. As a result not much has changed in the lives and welfare of the Iban communities.

I said that during my time in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I have not heard the Iban elected wakil rakyat of the BN fighting earnestly for the community, especially in solving the problems concerning the NCR land.

Over the years, we see NCR land taken from the Ibans. Yet, despite their so called involvement in the New Concept of NCR Development, many Ibans have complained that they have not been given their just rewards and dividends.

The Ibans should help themselves by booting out the BN Government in the next state election.
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