The latest police report lodged Wednesday by the PKR in Asajaya depicts an abuse that is typical according to widespread complaints made by the barely resourced opposition candidates against the brazen and corrupted flaunting of wealth and clout by Sarawak’s ruling boss-men, who have been criss-crossing the state in government funded helicopters surrounded by civil servants to offer ‘projects’ and inducements.
The subject of the latest scandal is the GPS candidate Karim Hamzah, one of the established cronies of the regime who once proudly announced he saw no problem with a chief minister abusing his position to conduct business whilst in office.
A video has emerged of him enticing voters with a promise of major prizes in a lucky draw after the election if they hand in their copy of a GPS personalised voting leaflet printed with all their details back to GPS after they have voted. “This is not to buy votes” he protests self-revealingly, then goes on to explain.
“After you have voted, your slips will be kept in boxes at our partner’s place. We will hold a Lucky Draw .. with huge prizes – Large screen TVs, refrigerators etc. We will have the Draw 3-4 days after the Elections. It is to encourage people to come out to vote. My hope is that it is US who come out to vote on the day”
Just one such prize would account for the entire budget of many an opposition campaign. In this case PKR’s candidate has justifiably complained the inducements are a disgraceful breach.
“Exciting prizes have been offered to individuals who get a lucky draw. I as a candidate feel dissatisfied with the essence of the video which seems to be buying votes”, goes the police complaint.
Whether the police will do anything about this standard form of GPS behaviour is moot. If they do slap a fine it will be a painless sanction for members of a thugocracy who are steeped in cash from endless privileged sources after a half century of abusing their absolute control of the resources of the state.
Such are the battles faced by their opponents who have been kept deliberately bare-foot by outrageous Malaysian practices that make a mockery of any claim to genuine democracy. These include a system where ruling party YBs are allocated huge sums of money to distribute among their constituents to bolster their position, whilst opposition representatives receive no grants and their areas are threatened with punishment for voting for the ‘wrong party’.
The thuggish ex-Deputy Chief Minister (now that the Assembly is dissolved) Awang Tengah was issuing those same threats again just earlier this week in Opar where he warned voters in his speech that their area would lose out on the annual RM8 allocation handed to the local GPS man if the opposition was voted in.
And, yesterday, Tengah took himself off by helicopter once more to another needy rural area Kuala Tutoh together with the usual army of officials to impress his overlord status on a local longhouse. The headman (who are now imposed and salaried by the state rather than being elected) had decked the place out in expensive GPS posters and flags and lined the population up side by side, all dressed in freebie GPS t-shirts, to greet him.
Opposition candidates, who barely have the cash to struggle round their local areas in the beating rain (whilst Tengah and his boys helicopter round the state) have been complaining time and again that their attempts at campaign visits have by contrast been obstructed, as in previous years, by the paid headmen. Security and even police have been put in position to harass and follow opposition workers and to severely limit the numbers they can meet with.
This time Covid is again of course the handy weapon and excuse to ensure there is one rule for the ruling party and one for the opposition.”Even if they let us in they will restrict the number of people who are allowed to come to hear us to a handful” explains one local campaigner.
Thanks to rules drawn up by the Health Ministry and UMNO’s Khairy Jamaluddin there are a slate of ‘health restrictions’ in place under the Covid SOP, which officials have selectively used to hamper opposition campaigners (certain senior figures have been barred from entering Sarawak) whilst top GPS folk move around with ease.
Indeed, as yesterday’s video shows, Tengah was able to swagger unimpeded through the crowded longhouse, shaking hands and receiving garlands round his neck. This at a time when the super-spreader Omicron virus has now been detected in Malaysia.
He is no exception. This is a WhatsApp election and whilst the Greedy Old Men of this tired regime have just continued to do what they always do, bribing and bullying and acting as if the rules do not apply to them, the nation has been watching.
One video that has circulated is of Snowdan Lawan presiding over another crowded GPS longhouse election party where maskless party workers and local folk are being encouraged to dance by the party giving YB. Once again the elite of GPS can flout the rules bringing the danger of infection and disease with such practices into the very homes of the people they seek to represent.
Indeed, the single biggest thing that GPS and their UMNO protectors in the federal government could have to avoid the spread of the pandemic during this selfishly timed election would have been to encourage postal and mailbox voting. Yet that would have enabled thousands of migrant younger voters to add their votes and the old men of GPS, who have crafted the electoral map to suit them over very many years, had no intention of risking victory to save lives.
Of course, if they had cared about lives at all they would have continued to delay the election till it was safer. However, they have instead rushed the ballot to avoid the youth vote which would have come into force if they had waited two more weeks owing to the ruling of the courts.
As in so many previous years GPS are hoping to sweep to victory through the dozens of tiny seats they have allocated to captive ageing communities of rural voters dominated by their paid headmen. Swooping round in their government helicopters they have been showing up to remind these folk who’s boss.
But, these swaggering overlords are also outdated. Their tactics can backfire in a WhatsApp election where all their dirty and devious tricks can be shown, shared and roundly commented upon.
Snowdan (who inherited from his Dad) has to be one of the youngest of the Sarawak Greedy Old Men, yet it was he who was again who was identified as the bully overlord who chose to land three helicopters on the Pan Borneo Highway during his effort-free campaign (whilst his opponents have to slog by river, road and foot to reach such regions).
The outraged drivers who were forced to sit honking their horns for the GPS ‘VVVVVIP’ recorded the moment…. and their comments which have viralled round the state, including without doubt to Lawan’s Pandemic Party dancers. These were the words.
Samseng = Gangsters!
* Macam di Vietnam, mahu berperang = Like in wartime Vietnam!
* Sebab ini dia punya connection dengan Abang Jo = the reason is because they have connections with Abang Jo.
* Kumpulan Mafia = Mafia group of people
* Dia ingat dia raja kah? = They think they are Rajah’s, is it?
The helicopters being used by Lawan in this incident have also been identified. One was a Sarawak Govt owned Hornbill Skyways helicopter, Registration: 9M-AZZ (representing abuse of power and breach of election regulations by GPS who are currently formally out of office). The second (9M-WAS) is owned by Westar, run by an UMNO billionaire business crony plugged into defence contracts and the third was hired from Indonesia according to the flag on the tail – such is the great wealth the GPS overlords have to throw at this campaign.
GPS are supremely confident that this time they will continue to be able to combine their control of all the wealth and authority after 50 years of uninterrupted grip on power to bulldoze through their win. Their tactics have been to disenfranchise the majority and then bully and blandish those few they have allowed to vote.
Turnout is expected to be minuscule as the rains fall and younger voters are trapped away from their rural homes by the pandemic and crippling travel costs. Calculations are that GPS can win on just 17% of the vote thanks to their outrageous gerrymandering over the years and boss man tactics (urban seats have 150,000 voters compared to rural seats with 5,000).
But, it’s all on show this time. Plenty of visual evidence circulating the state has shown the traditional cheap bribes have been offered everywhere.
Impoverished longhouse folk have naturally accepted all that has been offered. But the look on their faces (left) betrays their sad humiliation and their knowledge of what it all means.
The longhouse communities who have lost so much of their traditional way of life and means of living as the jungles and rivers around them have been destroyed are effective hostages after all, dependent on whatever is on offer in return for their obedience.
That argument is over and the neo-colonial invasion by the timber raiders triumphed and those plunderers now rule the state. Protests were met across with harsh police and court action, gangster attacks and the raw power of the massive bulldozing machinery of the marching logging and plantation barons. The federal authorities did nothing to support the indigenous rights written into Sarawak’s constitutional laws.
At election time, these intimidated and resourceless communities are offered some little treats. A pork feast, crisp bank notes, beer and cigarettes and parties are the normal offering, donated at the same time as the reminder is delivered of punishments to be expected if they vote the ‘wrong way’.
And these handouts have not just been on the part of GPS but also the highly suspect ‘opposition party’ PSB, which is headed by ex-ministers and the timber cronies of the present government with the likely intention of splitting the opposition vote.
Urbanites and West Malaysians who complain at the ‘mentality’ of longhouse folk or claim these simple people have a ‘culture of money politics’ and have yet to learn the meaning of the uneven bargain in selling their votes for pittances betray their own lack of understanding of the predicament of these subdued indigenous communities.
It is the agents of the colonialist regime that West Malaysia operates in the Borneo States who have inculcated the mentality of bribery and pepper corn rewards to those who have no other choice apart from outright rebellion against the armies of the state.
Where there is no rule of law there can be no democratic election, so what can the longhouse do but accept their guests and accept their ‘gifts’? Except in this election it is all being recorded and circulated. This time maybe the wider public in Malaysia will wake up and own their country’s guilt over what has happened in Sarawak.
Maybe as the phone communications spread awareness the longhouse folk themselves will take the money and deliver upsets!
Until the people of Malaysia understand the nature of the oppression in Sarawak which is being raped for its oil and natural resources for the benefit of a ruling thug-elite and West Malaysia’s own development, there will be insufficient pressure on their government to act.
The failure is with governance. Criminal kleptocrats were imposed under emergency conditions by the federal government in a determined bid to secure Sarawak’s oil. In return that central government has allowed freedom to the thug leaders of the state to raid the remaining resources from the native people.
Federal authorities have failed to act either over the years of blatant corruption or to curb abuses at elections or to prevent outrageous gerrymandering or the abuse of the bloated civil service to promote the interests only of the ruling party.
So, don’t blame the victims for accepting cigarettes and doing what they are told. Just remember that through these captive seats the mafia who run Sarawak are also holding the entire nation as hostages against reform.
What is striking about this Sarawak election is just how few changes there have been in the ranks of GPS candidates, mainly now old men who have enjoyed a life in politics treating their positions mainly as a sinecure which they plan to keep for life. Of the few seats that have changed hands at least one has been handed as an inheritance to the son of Adenan after Adenan’s wife decided not to bother to inherit it herself.
Yet this time round their actions are being watched. Do the old men stuck in their ways understand the significance of that?
More news of dirty GPS tactics, for example, has just been viralled from Marudi where once again under the guise of ‘voter education’, personalised leaflets are being handed out to every voter with instructions on where to find the polling station and which box to tick.
Handed out together with these leaflets, to focus the voters’ minds, are a duo of crisp RM50 notes according to the WhatsApp photos. All money looted from the public purse – doubtless a further bribe was promised for after the ‘right result’.
In return for such humble pennies GPS aim to secure ‘permission’ to loot the remaining billions from the lands of the people of Sarawak. They have played the same game for 50 years.
Yesterday another faint-hearted opposition leader announced (amid fanfare) that she was changing sides to go to GPS. Her reasons were selfish but pragmatic – the opposition had given her ‘no help at all‘ she said, whereas GPS was plainly flush with cash to satisfy her dependency.
But, don’t blame the longhouse for money politics and the cheap dependency culture where impoverished communities swap the great wealth of their lands to kleptocrats who wave cheap gifts. Blame federal Malaysia and its dirty colonial secret in Sarawak.
Even the distant ‘backward’ rural voter are hearing through daily messages and from their younger generations in the towns how the GPS bullies are taking them for a ride and plundering their homelands. There could, despite everything, be some upsets this weekend.