Perhaps the Sarawak results it isn't the end of the world, but it came quite close. The DAP didn't lose all our seats, but we lost all our battleground.
Our campaign had its weaknesses, which we
will in time rectify. But this was our most expansive and best prepared
campaign in the history of Sarawak elections, despite the obvious
limitations arising from a drastically uneven playing field.
messages were clear and consistent. They were twin-pronged - "national
issues" affecting Sarawakians such as GST and BN's corruption (Najib's
'donation'), and "local issues" such as roads, water, electricity and
other basic infrastructural issues.
Both anecdotal and formal
surveys told us these were the issues which are the issues which the
people were most concerned about. Our campaign videos, leaflets and
ceramah speakers focused almost exclusively on these issues.
But they didn't matter. We had hoped they did, right to the very end, but they didn't.
In rural districts, our campaign teams were peppered with cash requests
on a daily basis. "Supporters" turning up for nomination will follow up
by camping at our campaign office awaiting their "allowance". You want
work done? Pay up. You want PACA? Pay up. You want to campaign at a
longhouse? Pay up. You want people to attend ceramah? Pay up. And of
course, on the final day, voters were asking how much were we paying for
Some of our campaign teams were literally torn
apart because of the question of "paying up". When is it acceptable to
pay an allowance and when is it not?
I'm proud to say that our
teams did not hand out outright cash for votes. But in the heat of the
campaign, you cannot believe the sheer will power needed to stay sane
and how one's principles gets stretched and questioned to a breaking
But we paid the price.
This is best exemplified by
our campaigns in Pakan, Ngemah and Simanggang. It was independents who
were nobodies of particularly significance, other than the fact that
they were backed by rich and powerful forces who gave BN the run of
their money. The DAP, despite having worked the ground for many years,
especially in Simanggang, lost our deposits. And where PKR entered the
fray in Ngemah and Simanggang, they lost their deposits too.
These " independents" had no leaflets, no videos, no message and barely
any campaign presence, managed to lose to BN by a whisker.
might even be more comforting to blame the inexcusable 3-corner fights
with PKR for the losses we suffered. At least that would appear to be
easier to remedy.
But no, the 3-corner fights in these rural
interior constituencies were details of little or no significance to the
voters. Money unfortunately in this case, makes the world go round.
There were glimmers of hope and encouragement in 1-2 Dayak seats where
we definitely gained ground, like Tasik Biru or even Mambong (despite
being beset by a 3-corner fight). But they were too far and few
in-between to offer any semblance of consolation.
On the other
hand, in our incumbent urban seats, the size of BN's majority in the 5
seats we lost showed that the battle was lost before it even began. We
knew that the Adenan juggernaut will be BN's single biggest weapon. We
just didn't expect the juggernaut to be near-invincible. Try as we did,
and we threw the whole kitchen sink, we were unable to create a chink
in BN's armour.
In addition to the pressing issues surrounding
GST and Najib's scandal, we emphasized repeatedly on the need for check
and balance via a strong opposition to ensure that Adenan didn't become
the next "pek moh".
Despite the seeming strength of the message,
it obviously did not have sufficient traction even among the urban
voters. People were sufficiently happy with the few apparent
concessions Adenan gave.
They were more than happy to overlook
the continued corruption in the BN regime and the implications on the
people via higher taxes. The rampant and blatant abuse of power by
Adenan, such as banning Members of Parliament from entering the state
also didn't matter too much to them.
However, perhaps, had we not
campaigned that hard, we might have lost even more seats. Therefore we
must thank those tens of thousands of supporters who continued to stick
to us under such trying circumstances.
Hence on hindsight, our
Sarawak battle was one of limiting the damage rather than one of
consolidating our hold on these seats won in the last elections, or
making gains in the rural districts.
The election is undoubtedly a
sobering experience. It makes you question your ideals, your
principles and the worth of your fight. It shakes your faith in people
and your beliefs that the better good will ultimately win at the end of
These are the sort of times when you need inspiration to
continue the fight, to pick ourselves up and to continue the journey.
And the inspiration comes from heroes like the 75 year old Lim Kit Siang
- for I now finally appreciate his sheer strength in spirit and
character to keep up the fight, despite repeated demoralising election
losses and personal sacrifices he must have gone through in past
elections for the decades before 2008.
We will go lick our
wounds. But in the interest of the millions of Malaysians, whether they
appreciate it or otherwise, we will get up and fight again another day.
For it is when good men do nothing, that evil men succeeds.
Tomorrow, will be a brand new day.