20 October 2016
Malaysia continues to witness the emergence of new political parties in the public domain, further complicating its complex political landscape. The new Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) points to growing political awareness among the people of Sabah. They may be following in the footsteps of Sarawakians, who have been vocal in demanding more political autonomy for themselves.
After successive federal elections in Malaysia, it has become commonplace for political observers – locals and foreigners alike – to speak of the states of Sabah and Sarawak as ‘vote banks’ for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition that has been in power since the country’s formation. Time and again, the constituencies of Sabah and Sarawak have voted for BN or BN-friendly parties and candidates. This was demonstrated yet again at the state elections of Sarawak, where the opposition parties – including the DAP – were soundly beaten.
Recent developments in East Malaysia, however, also show that a growing sense of local identity politics is evident, and that increasingly both politicians and the voting public in the states of Sabah and Sarawak have grown more aware of the pivotal role that they play in the country’s overall political equation. At their last state elections, Sarawakians demonstrated strong support for their own local leaders who championed the interests of their home constituencies, and who demanded more say in the political and economic management of Sarawak’s land and natural resources.
… Dr Farish A. Noor is Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore NTU.
GPO / Online
Last updated on 21/10/2016