Friday, March 28, 2014

The "Buy-their-loyalties" By-election

The Balingian by-election has been flourishingly described as a “buy-their-loyalties” polls, which is startling considering the seat has been a BN stronghold since 2001 when former chief minister Taib Mahmud won the seat. In the 2011 state election Taib retained the seat by 5,154 votes. In the earlier 2006 polls he locked in a majority of 5,726 votes.
Still that did not stop Sarawak’s Infrastructure and Communication Minister Michael Manyin from pledging to build a 11-kilometer missing link road between Kuala Serumpai and Kuala Tatau at a cost of RM230 million! Only in Sarawak, a missing link road can get you votes. Villagers are going to be so indebted.
If you do your sums, this means that on the average one kilometer stretch of road in Sarawak would cost between RM1 to RM1.5 million to build. I must mention that somebody is also going to make reams of money on this deal.
The above-mentioned project and many others in Balingian will all receive generous infusions of funds that can be expected to exceed the total sum spent on the constituency in the last five decades!
After all, Balingian falls in Sarawak’s ‘industrial’ zone. Taib’s pet project Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (Score) is sited in the Mukah parliamentary constituency where Balingian sits.
Not only that but local residents have been ceaselessly bombarded with reminders that a big victory will be a show of gratitude to Taib and an endorsement of his successor Adenan Satem’s administration.
It is expected that this by-election will be a shoo-in for BN. However, the opposition PR-PKR is hoping to eat into BN’s previous majority. BN, on the other hand, is aiming for a landslide victory. And Chief Minister and Sarawak BN chairperson Adenan Satem even expressed his wish to see the PKR candidate lose his deposit.
My hope is that Sarawakians become wiser.
Yesterday, I was at PJ’s Jalan Yong Shook Lin to attend the IJM Toastmasters meeting. The meeting started five minutes late and by the time it concluded, we were behind by 37 minutes. The speeches were alright but the evaluations were better. Thankfully, Table Topics met with a much better response. I found the members were eager but their enthusiasm was muted. Maybe, because it was a lunchtime meeting, therefore, it was not easy to get energized at that time of the day.
Anyway, that sums up the meeting. Personally I thought it could be better-organized. I would give this meeting a 2.5 over 10 score.


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