At the end of March 2011, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the Sarawak state election will be held on April 16. The Prime Minister has said that the government will be using the election result as a barometer to decide on the timing to call a general election, due at the latest by 2013.
Bloggers’ support appears to be slanting towards the opposition, with many bloggers criticising the current government. Lucia Lai has insisted that the current government, led by Taib Mahmud, does not deserve to stay in power:
Taib Mahmud had been the CM for 3 decades, mind you, 3 decades – 30 years. During those 30 years, he had amassed a fortune… all at the expense of the poor people of Sarawak, especially the natives, many of whom he (and his family) stole their land (from). He is one of the most corrupt leaders of South East Asia!
Writing for the Centre for Policy Initiatives, Dr Lim Teck Ghee provided a better constructed argument:
According to Bernama, the Election Commission (EC) has decided not to give accreditation to Mafrel (Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections) to be an independent observer in the Sarawak state election, polling of which is to take place on April 16.
This statement coming from the EC makes it clear that the Government is afraid of –and will prevent – independent observers from monitoring the coming Sarawak election which, in all likelihood, will be the dirtiest one ever since the stakes are so high. Sarawak has to date been the biggest of the BN’s electoral fixed deposit. If Sarawak goes to the opposition or if the expected landslide for the BN component parties does not take place, it could be a precursor to the BN losing power at the national level in the coming general election.
Mired in corruption
This reaction from citizens should not come as a shock, as many already regard the government to be mired in corruption; it has been reported, for instance, that there are many deceased people still on the list of eligible voters, leading to concerns of corruption.
Politicians have taken to the Internet to campaign as well; Tony Pua and Teresa Kok, both opposition politicians in Peninsula Malaysia, posted a Democratic Action Party (DAP) campaign message in their respective blogs:
Now is the time for the brave people of Sarawak to make their voices heard. NOW is the time for the people of Sarawak to send a loud and clear message to the incompetent and corrupt BN state government. NOW is the time for the people of Sarawak to send a clear signal to the entire nation in preparation of the upcoming 13th Malaysia general election.
The DAP offers the promise of change to Sarawak by fighting the rampant abuse of power, cronysim and corruption by the BN leaders, who have enriched themselves at the expense of the rakyat, especially the poor and the marginalized, during their 50 years in power.
In an analysis and prediction of the election results, Dr John Brian Anthony wrote in his blog [now unavailable] that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will have a hard time ahead:
The lack of development in rural Sarawak will hurt the BN as its poor record of delivering development projects just added salt to the wounds. The ever mounting “corruption” practices that are being exposed by on line media and the Government inability to counter the corruption charges will have a telling effect on BN. The golden rule of “silence mean acceptance” will apply.
The blogger at MyLongkang pleaded to Malaysians to consider very carefully when casting their vote:
This election is going to be a free-for-all. Opposition parties are going all out to make their message heard while the ruling coalition will do their usual ‘instant’ projects to remind us that development needs rule the game in the state.
Use your vote wisely. Who do you think you should surrender your trust and faith for the next five years? It cannot be denied that everything is about vested interests but beyond small term gains, listen to what your conscience tells you.
The election comes right at a time when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is mired in yet another scandal, which broke out around the same time as the announcement of the election, this time over an alleged sex tape. Anwar has denied that the man in the video is him, saying that it is another government conspiracy against him. His family has also come out to support him, convinced that he is innocent.
AFP news agency reported that the Malaysian police chief confirmed the authenticity of the tape, and also pointed out that the two of the three people who have claimed responsibility over the video are in fact members of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party which has a majority in the BN coalition as well as the party that the Prime Minister belongs to.
Popular blogger Kenny Sia has his reservations:
Everytime an election comes around, a sex video tape pops up. On the day the Sarawak state assembly is dissolved, a “Datuk T” emerged, producing a video alleging “someone who looks like Anwar Ibrahim” getting jiggy with it with “someone who looks like a Chinese prostitute”.
To that I say, how do they know it's a prostitute from China? Maybe it's his “personal friend”? (When another Malaysian leader, Chua Soi Lek, had a sex tape of him leaked, he said that the woman involved was his personal friend)
Suddenly, everyone is pointing fingers to everyone. Fingers are pointed to Anwar, saying he is not fit to be a leader. Fingers are pointed to Datuk T, for broadcasting pornography.
Then I wondered. How come no fingers are pointed to the China woman for prostitution?
Blogger Pasquale from blog BarkingMagpie, however, believes that it is indeed Anwar:
I have no doubt in my mind and convinced that the man shown in the one minute video clip on You Tube is none other than him. For a man who constantly in his arrogant streak mode saying “catch me if you can” has actually been caught and on tape!
What I find so tragic is to see a picture of desperate Malays – Wan Azizah, Nurul Izzah and that stuttering Malay turncoat of a traitor Khalid Ibrahim – trying desperately to defend Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim (BABI), caught in a sex video which is now being viewed by the whole wide world!
Sarawak Reports has created an ‘Election Guide to Sarawak’ which has a brief profile of the different political parties contesting in the election, and leading English daily newspaper The Star has a section dedicated to election coverage, as do online alternative news website Malaysiakini.