09 May 2016
Sarawak’s state elections over the weekend represent a moment of ambiguity in Malaysian politics. Barisan Nasional (BN)’s easy win, led by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)’s 100 per cent victory in all 40 seats the party contested, on the way to claiming two-thirds majority of the available seats, is unlikely to signify a watershed moment for the country.
On the other hand, voting patterns in the Sarawak elections may point at nuances that could foreshadow events for the general elections in two years’ time. Additionally, it may provide a useful barometer for the current government’s popularity.
However, just as Sarawak and the rest of east Malaysia are distinctly different from their Peninsular counterpart, so too are Sarawak’s politics.
There are many factors that support a strong BN showing, not least of them the popularity of Chief Minister Adenan Satem of PBB. The feel-good factor surrounding the new man after he succeeded the disfavoured Taib Mahmud in 2013 was followed by a string of popular moves that centred on the theme of “Sarawak for Sarawakians”. This included stating that BN’s dominant party UMNO will not be represented in Sarawak, reinstating English as the official state language, backing religious freedom, and freezing timber licences for 10 years, among others.
… Rashaad Ali is a research analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 09/05/2016