Monday, March 4, 2013

Sarawak tunes in to RFS

A UK-based radio station is helping the opposition Pakatan Rakyat awaken the east Malaysian hinterland that holds a quarter of the 222 federal seats that is key to a regime change in Putrajaya, Bloomberg reported today.

Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), started in 2010 by Sarawak-born Clare Rewcastle-Brown, sister-in-law to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has been instrumental to the political awakening stirring among the indigenous people there who have voted in BN and helped the coalition keep its hold in the two resource-rich states but where the poverty rate surpasses the national average.

Bloomberg reported that RFS’s two-hour broadcast daily provides a channel for villagers there to tune in to stories of “land grabs by palm oil companies, aided by local officials”, and has helped to pry loose support from many “lifelong BN backers”, opening a path for PR to campaign.

Since 2010, PR has distributed 25,000 China-made radios costing RM35 apiece to villagers, Sarawak PKR vice-president See Chee How told Bloomberg. “Now our message is spreading throughout Sarawak.

This can only be good news for PR – Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s stranglehold on the state may be loosened and this may just help the opposition march to Putrajaya.

Malaysia deported Taiwanese activist Grace Kan (left) on Saturday. Kan, a vocal activist for conservation of pink dolphins in her country, had taken part in the anti-petrochemical (RAPID) plant campaign in Pengerang, Johor, during her last visit to Malaysia in July 2012 – and this, according to Immigration director-general Alias Ahmad, had tarnished the image of the country. And so, she was given her marching orders. This is another Malaysian joke.

Perhaps, she should have followed the Sulu example – bring in a weapon and the Malaysian authorities will promptly negotiate.

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