Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sabah & Sarawak Campaign Preparation: Return the Dignity to Choose

16 September is 40 days away. 50 years ago, on the 16 Sept 1963, Sabah and Sarawak joint Malaya and a new country called Malaysia was born.  However after 50 years, the Bumiputras in Sabah and Sarawak are the group that's left behind in Malaysia's economic development. 

The graph below shows Malaysia poverty rate by ethnicity.  While the Malay, Chinese and Indian have our poverty rate reduced by half to less than 5%, the percentage of poverty reduction for non-Malay Bumiputera is less than half and still lingering at as high as 17%. 

On the 5th May 2013, Pakatan Rakyat lost the hardest battle in the history of Malaysia. Numbers tell us that if we were to do better in Sabah and Sarawak rural area, we would have won GE13. Out of the 56 Parliamentary seats from Sabah and Sarawak, Pakatan Rakyat only managed to win 9 seats. The questions you may ask is, 'why do our fellow Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak still vote for the Barisan Nasional?' 

Nevertheless, can we blame them for not voting for PR? I don't think so. Now, imagine yourself to be living in a rural area from Sabah and Sarawak, and for all your life you know only one party, who will come before the election to give you some money and then out of your natural gratitude, you feel obliged to put a cross at the Dacing sign on the ballot paper in return of their 'favor'. Something changed this GE. Another guy came in just 1 to 2 months before the election and told you that the person who has been giving you the money is a bad guy because he steals and kills, don't vote for him. Even he steals and kills, it has little to do with you really. So whom will you vote for? The answer is clear. 

It's time for us in Pakatan Rakyat to put in hard work to win the hearts of the rural Malaysians.    Power that comes too easily will make us lost the real meaning of where the power comes from - the people. To me, serving the rural communities is more than just winning the election, it is about giving back our fellow Malaysians the rights that they have long lost purely because of Barisan Nasional political convenience. Barisan Nasional deprived the communities for 4 years and as much as possible, keep their political exposure to the minimum, and just weeks before election, give them some money and ask them for votes. This is the easiest way for Barisan Nasional to stay in power. And as a result, our fellow Malaysians, not knowing their rights, are deprived of what they actually deserve. 

I am glad that in DAP, we have leaders who want to do things differently. We want to provide them first basic infrastructure (roads, water and electricity) then economic sustainability projects that allow them to increase their monthly income; we want to give them political educations - inform them their their democratic rights especially to their ancestral lands. Yes, BN will still give them money the last minute before election, and the people may still choose them, but at least, at least we return our fellow Malaysians the dignity to choose This is the essence of democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's return our fellow Malaysians in rural Sabah and Sarawak the dignity to choose. Dignity, that everyone who lives in a democratic country, deserves. 

I was reminded of these lines that I wrote on my FB on the 6th May: - 

"Cry Malaysians cry, but only for a short while, there are a lot more things to do to achieve our dreams...... Indeed, the journey is longer than expected, but let's don't lose hope, let's continue to believe that when all of us come together, our dreams will come true one day." 

I count myself blessed to be a part of the campaign, a part of change that all of us long hope for. Sarawak campaign will be launched mid-September and I need to do a lot of work to make sure the first phase publicity is effective to raise sufficient funds (both from online donation and dinner) so we can implement the first round of projects that have been identified. Do support the campaign when it is launched! 
Yes, the journey starts now, one small step at a time, we'll eventually get there. I always tell my staffs this: it takes only one generation to bring historical change, and WE ARE THE GENERATION.