Before and after the nomination day (8 May), the Sibu by-election has been turned into a ‘Sibu buy-election” when practically all federal ministers starting from Prime Minister Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to ministers and to deputy ministers have come down to Sibu to show that they really care for the people of Sibu. State ministers including Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud have been overshadowed by their visits and their activities.
The Federal Minister of Agriculture talks of improving agriculture, Higher Education minister talks about higher education, rural development minister on rural development, minister of transport talks on airport extension programme, minister of health talks about upgrading Sibu Hospital to become tertiary and excellent centre, minister of youth and sports talks about talks about increasing sports faculties in Sibu, and so on and so forth. Some stay put from the nomination day until polling day. Prime Minister Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin visit Sibu twice in the eight-day of campaign.
These ministers, when they come to Sibu, bring with them some “goodies” such as fertilizers which are to be distributed to the poor farmers and promises of financial allocations for infrastructural development, schools, surau, masjid, repairs to longhouses, flood mitigations projects, and etc, etc.
The ministers’ favourite place is the central market where there are Iban, Chinese and Malay vegetable vendors, traders and small-time businessmen. They shake hands with the vegetable sellers. Some are trying to hold chickens wrapped in newspapersso that photographers will take pictures of them – just to show they are with the chicken sellers.
From all these programmes of activities, it seems that the ministers really treat people first performance now.
After the ‘buy-election’ they all disappear and the“buy-election” will become “bye-bye-election”. Promises forgotten and financial allocations never come. Suddenly the people become last, performance later – waiting perhaps for the next general election.
The Batang Ai ‘buy-election’ in April last year is a good example when people suddenly become last and performance never performed. During the campaign the people were first, performance now.
Now one year one month has gone and the promises left forgotten and unfulfilled. For example, the promise of tar-sealing roads in and around SALCRA plantations has not been fulfilled. The road to Ensawang village for example has not been tar-sealed until today. Roofing materials and the supply of clean water promised to this longhouse have never arrived. There are hundreds of longhouses have been cheated this way. Go to Batang Ai and ask the people there to prove my point.
What about the proposed road between Lemanak and Engkari which were supposed to cost more than RM70 million? And what about telecom towers? Even the promise of RM500 to each voter, if the BN candidate won, has not been received by them.
I understand the majority of the 110 longhouses in the Sibu parliamentary constituency is no different from other longhouses elsewhere – no piped water and supply of 24 electricity even though the main electrical wires pass over some of the longhouses.
For Sibu voters, especially the Iban voters, think first before you cast your votes.