Monday, June 22, 2015

Chinese should reject DAP’s rhetoric,blatant allegations and negativism

With the total defeat of SUPP, which used to be a dominant Chinese –based political party, in the April 2011 State Elections, the Chinese community now has only two out of 58 elected representatives in the Government. It managed to retain Bawang Assan and Senadin with the support of Bumiputra voters only by the skin of their teeth.

In spite of the defeat, the leaders continue to fight tooth and nail against each other to the benefits of DAP, which used to have only five or six elected representatives in the opposition bench to 12 now.

SUPP’s candidates, made up of the party big wigs led by the President Datuk Patinggi Dr. George Chan (Piasau), Secretary- General Professor Dr. Sim Kui Hian (Pending), Treasurer General David Teng (Repok) and others all dropped like paper pins against unknown politicians being nominated by DAP against them. 

Obviously, the Chinese community, out of the doing of members, is experiencing the politics of under representation in the government. They are indulging in a very unhealthy trend of politics of political and racial polarization in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Sarawak.  They are creating a situation where an overwhelming majority of them support the opposition while the majority of Bumiputeras support the Government. 

Given the existing political framework, yelling at the top of their voices as members of the opposition, they do not solve problems. They may look good in newspapers or at a mass rally, but they do not bring any results.

Obviously, it is important for the Chinese community to recognise that it would be more effective to be in the Government as the task of building a better future is the collective responsibility of every citizen.

It must begin with positive thinking and correct attitude. They must be prepared not just to bemoan problems, being antagonistic and confrontational but be more cooperative with the other communities to solve their problems.

Generally, members of the Chinese community have high ideals and targets to such an extent they become unrealistic. The targets could not be achieved due to lack of fundamental understanding and unity of purpose. They blame others for their failures.  

Given the existing political framework, it is one thing not to know what are the problems facing the Chinese community, it is another not to have looked at the problems in the correct perspective.

The Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, in his winding speech on the debate of the Governor of Sarawak, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud’s opening speech during the last sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, said as a Cabinet Minister, he considered it appropriate for him to appeal to Chinese to change their attitude, political approach and ways they manage their affairs given the existing political framework.

He said they should take the opportunity to work with the Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, with his emphasis on efficiency, integrity and good governance, in order to keep pace with his decisiveness of action and admirable courage to imbue a greater sense of belonging into the people of different races and move with greater unity to the task of building a more united Sarawak and a better future.

Dato Sri Wong said Datuk Patinggi Adenan has proven himself to be very decisive in addressing any political and economic issues. He likes his administration to be inclusive, which means all the communities should be part of the Government. He has been particularly vocal in so far as the Chinese community is concerned as he really wants the community to be represented in his administration.

He said Datuk Patinggi Adenan is ever willing to listen to grievances and address issues affecting them. His efforts should be lauded so that no one community would be left out of his Government.  The Chinese community should take stock, change the political attitude and approach and work with him.

They should help him to create an environment more conducive for the greater unity and solidarity for the people in Sarawak.  With his emphasis on efficiency, accountability and integrity, the Chinese can ask for no better time than now to start working with him.

He regretted that the polarization of political parties by claiming Chinese interests has led to a wide dissipation of Chinese voice. The parties concerned also lack the communication in the search for basic denominators for concerted efforts for the community.  There has been an inadequate common voice for the community.

For example, too often, the Chinese community talks a great deal about issues they have to face but they are indisposed by political apathy, which used to be further aggravated by negative attitude in registering protests instead of positive participation.

Dato Sri Wong said he shared a view that Chinese community has been likened to a boat with under-powered motor tossing about in the high seas.  Therefore, the members should concentrate on the paramount of the politics of under representation in the mainstream of politics.

He believed members of the Chinese community must do some fundamental re-thinking in their efforts to forge a consensus on political issues and a common direction. The present practice of fragmenting Chinese political support among DAP, UPP and SUPP is doing nothing good for the Chinese community. Even DAP with a dozen representatives carrying the so-call Chinese voice has not done anything to exert any perceptible influence on the Government.

He also believed any objective analysis would conclude that a Chinese-based opposition would only lead to further erosion of the community’s position of political representation in the Government.  

Obviously, the Chinese community needs a real political break-through, which requires political wisdom and courage to change. They can face the future either positively or negatively or constructively or destructively.

They can choose to approach challenges by viewing each other positively or adopt a negative attitude by deliberately misinterpreting and opposing anything that come along the way to arouse emotions of the people.

Dato Sri Wong said the Chinese community must have the foresight to recognize the necessity to be represented in the Government and participate in the process of development to benefit from the economic and socio-political opportunities that will come up more and more.

They must appreciate that the development of the economy and socio-political future cannot be gambled away by allowing themselves to be fooled by mere rhetoric, slogan-shouting, empty promises, blatant allegations and negativism.

He believed the Chinese can achieve much by having a good representation in Government to enable them to participate in the  transformation of  opportunities into results and benefits for all communities."

The Chinese community in the Government, just like in a family, could use the combined resources and common spirit to overcome crises, in striving for the common goals.  They should all join hands together to become united and strong in striving for a shared vision of the community. The choice before the Chinese community is clear but daunting one namely to unite the members to join the mainstream politics in the Government.  

Sarawak Monitor
22 June 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Federal Departments, agencies are also answerable to State

The Federal Departments and agencies, which believe they do not have to report to the State Government and only to their headquarters in Putra Jaya have been told in no uncertain terms by the Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Haji Satem   that they are here to serve Sarawak; the people and State Government are their clients. 

 If the people and the State government are not happy with their services, they have the right to complaint the agencies concerned to their big bosses in Kuala Lumpur. In other words, if the State is not happy with their services, it can go on over them to improve such services.

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Haji Satem, in his winding speech on the debate on the opening speech of the Governor of Sarawak, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud during the last sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, said the Federal Departments and agencies are duty bound to do what the people and the State Government want them to do.

In a straight talking, which is his trademark, the Chief Minister said: “don’t tell me you only report to your bosses in KL, you don’t report to State Government.”

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem regretted that some Federal Departments have been found to be inactive in their services to the State. Hence, he has requested the State Secretary to write to Chief Secretary to the Government to complaint about the non-performance of some Federal departments in Sarawak.

For example, the fact that the local people alerted him about the Bajau, Suluk and other fishermen from the Philippines, squatting in Miri or Lutong, shows that the enforcement personnel of the Immigration and the Maritime departments have not been doing their jobs well.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan had to convene a meeting with representatives of the departments concerned and direct them to get rid of the illegal immigrants. The State does not want to become another Sabah. The problem of illegal immigrants must be nipped in the bud, before it becomes worse and unsolvable; the State must take early action.   After a series of raids, which resulted in the arrests of more than 200 people, some decided to come out and go back voluntarily. 

He said the State Government has adopted a policy of assisting them to go back to their places of origins as the State is not interested to push whatever punishments on them as, for example, sending them to prison means spending a lot of money to feed them.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan viewed the presence of illegal immigrants very seriously because they could cause serious social and security problems in the State. If left unchecked, the problem illegal immigrants can affect the security and sovereignty of State. 

The increases in the number of PATI ( Pendatang Tanpa Izin or illegal immigrants)  were due to weak enforcements by the departments and agencies concerned. . The illegal immigrants became bolder in encroaching into the State and territorial waters to exploit local business opportunities and rob the State of the precious resources.

He said the recent incidence involving illegal fishing in Miri was due to the abundance of fish in the State’s territorial waters. As a result, the livelihood of the local fishermen was badly affected. They raised numerous complaints to the relevant authorities. Unfortunately, little actions were taken to necessitate them to request him to step in to resolve the issue.

He said some PATI were known to be involved in smuggling illegal weapons.  Generally, their health condition was a concerned because they came in without being screened.  Some of them had contagious diseases like tuberculosis (TB), which could pose serious health risk to the local people.

He said the State Government would not compromise on issues that could affect the State’s security and sovereignty. Therefore all relevant enforcement agencies have been directed to be firm and bold in rounding up all illegal immigrants.  Besides, stern actions must be taken to penalize employers, who are hiring and harboring illegal immigrants. 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan, who is also the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, offered to help parties in NCR land disputes to settle their cases out of Court.  The State Government is even prepared to give land to Natives under Section 7 or Section 6 of the Land Code. But the Government will not tolerate ludicrous land claims that extend from sunrise to sunset.   IN other words, they own the whole place as far as the horizon is concerned.

He said if they are reasonable and compromising, the State government can assist the parties involved to settle their cases amicably out of court. Otherwise, the cases will drag on for years. This problem of land dispute, which is one of the biggest, requires the State government to have more time to settle them. 

He regretted, for example, that land disputes between plantation owners and claimants of NCR lands had become recurring issues that had dragged the Government to Court as a party accused of being responsible.  There are a total of 124 reports on land disputes at various stages of Court processes in Land and Survey Department.

The problem, if left unchecked, will be a constant drain on everybody’s time. Worse it gives fodder to the detractors to accuse the Government of a slew of wrongdoings from land grab to the rape of the countryside.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan reaffirmed the commitment of the State Government to manage, protect and conserve the forest with the belief that it is the right thing to do regardless of whether it is being attacked by foreign NGOs and other parties or not. 

The State, with a long history of conserving the environment, is tackling the problems at all levels ranging from policy, legislation, process and procedures, systems and enforcement. The State government, with the aspiration to become a leading player in sustainable forest management, is making serious efforts to transform the image and reputation of the forestry sector and timber industries. 

 In fact, the timber industry is one of the economic sectors that have contributed tremendously to the State’s economy for the past few decades. The timber sector, occupying the fourth position in terms of export after LNG, petroleum and palm oil, will continue to grow to ensure that the state remains an important player in the international tropical timber and timber products.

The State’s policy has been very clear in respect to sustainable forest management.  The policy will continue to be followed with effective implementation and strong enforcement in the overall efforts to manage and protect the forests to ensure that they remain sustainable for future generation.

The State government is making all out to eliminate illegal loggings, which have serious implications on the environment, revenue and image of Sarawak in the world on how the forest is being managed. The efforts in eliminating illegal loggings will be enhanced and intensified until the activities are completely wiped out in the State.

A total of 46,215 cubic meter of illegal logs worth aboutRM14 million and royalty, about RM3 million were seized in 2014. That was just the beginning of efforts, which the opposition should support rather than belittling the efforts to eliminate illegal logging.

There are 123 active sawmills while 42 are non-operative.  There are suspected to rely on the supply of illegal logs to support operation. The Government will no longer approve new sawmills to be setup within the timber concession areas.

Some of the illegal loggers, before actions have been taken against illegal logging activities, believed they could do whatever they wanted. They were just timber thieves. Then the enforcement by Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation were very weak. 

He told 2,000 enforcement officers to their face that if illegal logging activities happened in their areas, without them knowing about the activities, he would get MACC to investigate them. He had to put the fear of God into them.

He said the activities of illegal logging are scandalous to such an extent that even national parks have been intruded into.  He would not tolerate anymore nonsense and intensified efforts would be made to hunt down the culprits.

He said quite a number of sawmills have closed down because there are no more timber to be stolen.  It was ridiculous to find sawmills being set up in jungle even though they had no concession areas. Obviously, they expect people to steal timber for their operations. Admittedly, more works had to be done to stop or at least minimize these scourge of illegal felling of trees.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the seized timber being taken custody by Hardwood, a subsidiary of Sarawak Forestry Corporation, would be used by Hardwood for its processing plants; there is no more hanky panky in the business. Undoubtedly, the message that the State government is serious about fighting illegal loggings has been conveyed to perpetrators. 

The State government has been receiving tips and reports from the people about suspected cases of illegal loggings in their areas to enable enforcement officers to investigate them.  
They did not report such activities before because no actions had ever been taken by the relevant agencies on their reports.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the Forestry Ordinance, which has been amended, makes the burden of proof on a person, found in his possession timber, which are still unmarked and with no royalty being paid, that he has got it illegally. It is not for the prosecution to prove that he has got the timber illegally.

The new provision makes it more difficult for the suspected timber thieves to escape. Sometimes lorry drivers, when being apprehended carrying illegal timber would just say they had been directed by the “towkay” to deliver them to certain sawmills.

 The Enforcement officers, with the amended Ordinance, will be able to charge such drivers and make them sing until they reveal who the “towkays” are.  Basically, lorry drivers, who are suspected of transporting illegal logs, will be investigated and apprehended. If there are cases against them they will be charged in court under the amended Ordinance.    

He said the penalty, which used to be quite low for the offence, has increased including imprisonment. However, the crux of the matter lies with the enforcement; if the enforcement is weak, the law means nothing. The best deterrent is the certainty of being caught.

He said the introduction of Forest Bill 2015 during the April 2015 sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, manifested the State Government’s resolute commitment to strengthen forest management. It took into account the environment and welfare of the local community. The implementation of the law would help the State to combat and eliminate illegal logging and improve its image in the world.

He regretted that the State’s management of the forest has become the victim to criticisms by foreign NGOs.  They have been quite successful in giving Sarawak a bad name internationally.

But he expected them, with the policy change, to stop making such unfair criticisms. If they are truly concerned with the forest, they should stop making such criticisms and instead come forward to help the State with better ideas on environment conservation for the future. 

However, Datuk Patinggi Adenan is not interested with Bruno Manser Fond because its agenda is not the State’s forests. Its agenda is a suspect and of no interests to the State. He is more interested in NGOs whose real concern is preservation of forest.

Admittedly, the enforcement officers, in carrying out raids also found out legal timber being transported from one area to another area. The lorries suspected of being involved in transporting of illegal timber, have proper document with them. Generally, rampant timber thefts happen when the prices of timber are high. When the prices are down, the thefts will be minimal.

Sarawak Monitor
17 June 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SUPP, SPDP have become mosquito parties

The Barisan Nasional is founded based on the spirit of consultation, compromise and inclusivity. This must be upheld by all component parties to keep political situation strong, healthy and stable. Obviously, politics in Sarawak, like those in the rest of the country, must be based on sincere desire to develop the economy and bring positive changes to the people.

The common struggle must be motivated by the desire to preserve the unity and solidarity of the people and ensure that no community should be left out of the mainstream of development. Only the politics of pragmatism can bring about a transformation that brings improvement and the betterment of life for the people. 

Admittedly, this is easily said than done and not an easy task to accomplish. Hence, even an established party like SUPP, after a long quarrel among leaders, has been split into two separate entities – SUPP and UPP. There is no mass movement of the people towards the party to enable members to claim that their party remains strong. The party will be able to capture all the urban constituencies that it lost to the Opposition DAP in the April 2011 State Elections. It lost all its urban parliamentary constituencies in the General Elections (Parliamentary Elections for Sarawak) in 2013. 

Boasting aside, the party must accept the reality that it has not got the strength and grass root machinery to face DAP, which has been very active on the ground, yet. The general view is that people are more likely to bump into leaders and members of DAP than those from SUPP in coffee shops or in market places nowadays. 

SPDP has lost a lot of credibility in term of feedback and failure to nominate the party Secretary –General, Nelson Balan Rining, though an incumbent, in Ba’kelalan in the April 2011 State Election.  Subsequently, the party lost Ba’ kelalan to Baru Bian of PKR.  

The Deputy President, Datuk Peter Nyarok, an Assistant Minister   and the incumbent for Krian, lost to a political unknown, who represented PKR, which was rejected in all other Dayak majority constituencies in the elections. SPDP, after a prolonged political squabble among the leaders, has been reduced to a mosquito party, a reality, which the members find difficult to accept. Even the founding President, Tan Sri Dato Sri William Mawan, realizing attempts to oust him, ejected out of it. 

As politics is about numbers, the existence of both SUPP and SPDP can be considered negligible though the members find it difficult to accept and remain defiant. They are prepared to defy the decision of the Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, who is also the Chairman of Barisan Nasional Sarawak and President PBB, its backbone, to keep the Barisan Plus formula for the next State Elections, which must be held by June 2016. 

They protested louder, which was unprecedented, after the Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak endorsed the formula.  Clearly, they have gone overboard the norms and practices of Barisan Nasional by going public with their protest.  Logically, the public expect them to pull out of Barisan Nasional if they disagree with the decision of the top leadership. 

Understandably, the break-up of SUPP was because leaders of the opposing groups had no communication among them. They did not have consultations among them, each side holding on to their ground in a stubborn and adamant manner.

Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, during one of his campaign speeches for the Balingian by-election, openly told leaders of the opposing groups that they had enough of the quarrels and should stop them. They had been making Chinese to become more confused and losing sense of direction. 

He believed it was time for party members to tell their leaders to stop quarreling just like children telling their parents to stop quarrelling. They have enough of quarreling and should settle their differences.

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan said he would continue to talk to the rival leaders to find way to settle their disputes and bury their hatches and all must work together in preparing for the forthcoming State elections. 
The State has no majority from any particular groups.  Therefore, they should avoid arguing that certain groups can become a majority or certain groups should dominate and there should be politics of dominance of one group over the other groups. 

Besides, the politics of development, as the philosophy of development, which was introduced by Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, as the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak,   requires elected representatives of the people to weigh between short-term and long-term benefits and make efforts to convince the people that a long-term program, which can have comprehensive coverage of the whole state, is more important than short-term ones. 
Admittedly, it is daunting task to keep party members, who comprise of old and young people, each nurturing the political ambition of coming up, to work together in the service of the people, State and country.  The older members have the experience after witnessing a lot of development in politics in their struggles and believe that the development that has been good for the State and the people.

However, the younger members want more things to be done fast to meet the rising expectation of the people, who still want more to be done for them. As a consequence, a component party has to face a lot of differences from views of members those from the younger members, who have very high expectation of their struggle, in particular.

Obviously, the common challenge of members is not to fight but to adjust themselves and try to hold to the view that adaptability must be injected into the system and become part of the policy of the party.

The process may take a bit of time as some members want changes to happen very fast while others want them to take time. This alone required members to nurture the attitude of being able to recognize the need to give time and space for differences of views that can be incorporated as a policy of the respective parties.

The Governor, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who served as Chief Minister for 31 years,  believed that leaders must keep in touch with the people and have a common aim with them.   In all his years in politics, the thing that bound him together with the people regardless of race or religion was knowing how best to serve them,  help the poor people to become better and those once illiterate to become educated.

He also believed it was important to keep the spirit of political process alive among people, who wanted to be consulted in formulating development policies and programs. Hence, politicians must have links with the people to enable them to get report on things on the ground. He had consultations with the people after prayers in his house throughout his political careers. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, once the Chairman of Barisan Nasional Sarawak and President of PBB, said his party had the practice of picking  candidates for elections based on reports being submitted by party leaders, who were close to the people on the ground.  He had always discussed party matters with grass root leaders, who could advise him on what the people wanted. To him the dominant consideration was to serve the people with the best of one’s ability.

He believed a political party is one way to realize the ideal of the government of the people, by the people and for the people. In this respect, a political party must try to bring the people together and make the people to become part of the political movement. The leaders must have links with the people in order to have a common aim with them.  Only then, he will be able to know how best to serve them.

Of course, efforts must be made to encourage young people, who have good education, to participate in political process in order to get the thinking power into the political system and political process for democracy to last.
The adage is politic is the art of possible.  If  things do not happen as in the case of the crisis ridden  SUPP, then members of the party, those at the top in particular, must be blamed for not practicing the principle and practices of politics.
Regrettably, they are still fighting against each other, tooth and nail and less against the Opposition DAP. Obviously, both sides are not concerned with the reality  that even as a united  political entity and in spite of it being the oldest party, it could not withstand the onslaught of DAP  in fighting for urban votes.

In the last State elections on April 2011 and the National Elections in 2013, they lost the Parliamentary constituency of Kuching Bandar and all the State constituencies that make up the Parliamentary Constituency. Clearly, SUPP in facing DAP with the gutsy politics of Peninsular Malaysia, stood no chance at all. SUPP lost all urban Parliamentary and State Constituencies, which used to be its power base during the elections.

Then the secretary-General, who enjoyed a very good standing in the Medical profession, did dismally in the State constituency of Pending, which used to be his late father’s turf, in the April 2011 State elections.

Then, the party Treasurer General, at one time a bright star in the party, failed to defend his old state constituency of Repok in Sarikei.   None of them in the party supreme council, except the Deputy President, Datuk Richard Riot Jaem, are elected representatives of the people.  They do not contribute to the numbers that the party needs badly.

They may have some followers, which may be easy to keep in the party, but they do not represent the people to make up the numbers.   They cling to their positions in the party and blame other people for their defeats in the elections.    That is not being sensitive to the needs and aspiration of party members, who want change from inside.

Now the party is reduced to one Parliamentary constituency of Serian and the State constituencies of Sri Aman and Senadin mainly with the support of Bumiputra voters. It could retain Sendin by the skin of its tooth only. The other seats of Opar, Bengoh, Engkilili and Bawang Assan have moved to the rival faction, which has formed United People’s Party.

Of course, their defeats in urban constituencies are also attributable to the trend of anti -establishment among urban voters. For example, they perceive that everything done by government is wrong, it is being motivated by corruption or personal gains. Even in Sarawak the opposition’s campaign was to defeat Barisan Nasional to teach UMNO the lesson. Though the line of campaign had no relevance yet urban voters fell into it.   

Obviously, SUPP, which used to be the choice of urban voters, must focus efforts on getting them to elect good leaders to make sure that Chinese have got good leaders in the government. Obviously, it is up to the Chinese to decide.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, as a veteran politician, believed that the consultation job must keep on growing; it could not be carried out among small groups only. Otherwise, a community including the Chinese would remain backward starters in progress and the prosperity of Sarawak.

He believed that a political party must try to bring the people together and make them becoming part of the political movement. The leaders must keep in touch with the people in order to become the government of the people.
He used to say the greatest link between the government and the people were to stay in touch in order to have a common understanding on the development policies and programs. The thing that bound him together with the people regardless of race or religion in all his years in politics was  knowing how best to serve them.
The leaders must know how to help the Rakyat; know how the poor people can become better in whatever they do. They must know that people can become clever with good education.
Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib believed there were many ways to get democracy to work but the best way was to serve the people to the best of one’s ability. Over the years, more and more people would get good education. 

For example, his former party PBB started with very few clever and educated people but today the party has one ideology among party members comprising of well educated and less educated people. The party has the machinery to explain a lot of things to the people. 

During his time as the leader of PBB, he made it a policy to change people in every election. He used to make 20% or 25% changes among the party candidates. The new people, mainly young people, have ideas, which should be cultivated.  

They may make mistakes but they can learn from their mistakes with the leaders guiding them what is practical and what is impractical in politics. Therefore, the party has to keep the spirit of political process alive especially among people, who are well educated and having the interests to test their knowledge with the reality of the situation. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, used to have consultations with the people after prayers in his house.  He considered consultation as an important process in politics to enable him  know things happening on the ground as the party was not set up with a lot of consultations. Therefore, the people still trust the leadership after knowing them since 40 or 30 years ago. 

Generally, young members believe they know more about the economy, finance, management than their seniors in the party.  Therefore, they must know the older leaders have more and in-depth knowledge about the subject matters.  So consultation is the most important thing to keep alive among new and older members. 

Besides, political parties must have the mechanism to understand whether people are out of date or not.  Therefore, the process of consultation must be made continuous.  For example, sometime candidates for elections are being picked at the last moment, because the party made the decision to accept the nominations after having thorough discussions on them. 

Sarawak Monitor

16 June 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Racialism, religious extremism saps energy of Rakyat in development

Sarawak, which has been built on mutual respect and the value of human dignity among people, comprising of diverse ethnic and religious groups and ideologies, belongs to every Sarawakian, who respects each other’s belief and tradition and upholds the value of human dignity as the basis of relationship with others. 

Truly, there are not many places like Sarawak, where the people can celebrate their differences rather than making such differences, even political differences divide them. Admittedly, Sarawakians, like other people have differences in opinions but more often than not, they respect each other’s opinion and find ways to solve problems among them amicably. 

However, they endeavour to nurture the spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie in the true spirit of the traditional goodwill and harmony, which the state is known for.  Generally, the people, in spite of their diverse backgrounds, do not subscribe to the ideology of creating Sarawak by the tactic of “divide and rule”.  

They are building Sarawak by mutual consensus, the spirit of co-operation and give-and-take and the genuine desire to see Sarawak on par if not better than other more developed states in the country. Sarawak is for everybody and Sarawak is big enough for everybody.

The overriding issue is how to build a peaceful, progressive and united country for all. In this regard, Sarawak believes that if the people have problems to know where they stand in a valley they should go up to a mountain to determine their position; that is what the people have been doing every five years.  Every community holds cultural seminar to take a close look at the progress of members to ensure that they are on the right track in the common struggle for nation building.
The exercise of re-examining ourselves helps us to see tremendous changes, which signify successful efforts of all communities, to develop the state and country.  Generally, the people should find it easier to earn their living, find better ways to do things and pursue the life of their own choices.

The obvious choices for the people are either to live a life of stagnation or a life of change. Arguably, over the years, the people have been experiencing phenomenon of change; even people, who have been afraid of change, now accept it as a way of life.

It is a process that must take place when the desire and aspiration for the people get higher; there is no way the people can achieve higher standards of living without economic changes.

More importantly, there is no way to get the people to work harder without educational and cultural changes taking place; even the adoption of some new functional education system will not help the people to attain higher heights without the adoption of the subjects on technology and science.

Undoubtedly, a stronger sense of belonging and oneness among the people is attributable to the political philosophy of the politics of development of Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud as the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2014. 

Then Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s primary concern was to pull Sarawak out of the backwater of development into its mainstream.  He had been preoccupied with the idea that Sarawak must run faster than other states in order to catch up with their progress and advancement. 

Then the rate of poverty in Sarawak was about 60 per cent and unemployment among the people especially youth in villages and longhouses were very high.  The demographic pattern of the State was about 80% rural and 20% urban. The situation gave rise to an explosive feeling of dissatisfaction against the government, which was being accused of pursuing politics of favouritism. 

Consequently, instigating racial and communal feelings was the best weapon to win support, though a highly divisive support, in any elections.  Obviously, the new way forward must necessarily be to mobilize the people and orientate them towards development.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s mammoth task was to propel, reshape and develop Sarawak, with its huge land surface, which is almost the size of peninsular Malaysia, but still under-developed and had small population of 1.5 million people only.  

His problem was compounded by the fact that the small population was scattered in 5,000 pockets of settlements over a wide area. Besides, the State inherited a very poor network of roads of less than 1,000Kms only. 

Then, the villages and longhouses were distant apart with the distance of anything between three to 100 miles apart. He knew, apart from having a strong political will, his administration must have efficient administrative service with good delivery system and enjoy a strong support from the people. 

Essentially, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s immediate task was to bring about 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups together. Therefore, earnest efforts must be made to nurture harmonious relationship and goodwill among the people as unity must become the cornerstone of the progress and advancement of the State towards the year 2020 and beyond. 

Obviously, the political situation must be made healthier, strong and stable. In other words, politics in Sarawak, like those in the rest of the country, must be based on sincere desire to achieve something to fulfill the State’s independence with good economic growth and development that can bring positive changes to the people.  

To Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib whether the people like it or not their lives have been so intertwined by inter - dependent on each other in various fields, be they in economics, politics and other fields. They have got to make a success of this co-operation. Nothing else is a better alternative in the way they look to the future.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, in one of his landmark speeches during the sitting of the State Legislative Assembly on November 24, 1987 said:  “Whatever political views that the people entertain, must not prevent them from agreeing, as a matter of principle, on the question of development for the people. 

He observed unfortunately, politics had gone quite far that some leaders of the opposition thought that they should continue to harp on development issues to suit political agenda and score political points on the ground.  

To him it was time for the people to stop with petty politics and instead work together in matters of development for the overall progress and prosperity of the people.  Those persisting with petty practices in order to score political points will only have themselves to blame if they cannot deliver the goods that they have promised to their constituents. This is the reality of the future.  

Personally, he would endeavour to see justice to all as the prevailing means of serving the people, state and country. The common struggle must be motivated by the desire to preserve the unity and solidarity of the people and ensure that no community should be left out of the mainstream of development. Only the politics of pragmatism can bring about a transformation that brings improvement and the betterment of life for the people.  

He said he has been pursuing this line of politics in the form of the politics of development that has served as the basis of his struggle because the other forms of politics, with a lot of rhetoric or worse empty talks, do not bring any benefits, development benefits in particular to the people, state and country.  Efforts must be made to reduce politicking among the people because, in any political fights, it is the people who get confused the most, their line of thinking and attitude will be distracted. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, who was also the Chairman of Barisan Nasional Sarawak and President of PBB, said the policies of the Government are meant for all people, all sections of the community. The State does not have to be trapped in wrangling between races and groups as it has ample of wealth to be shared by all; it is the problem of how to distribute the wealth. 

He said politics should not be based on how to deny others and grab as much as possible for ourselves but rather on how to realise the potentials of the State and country.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, in another speech in during the sitting of the State Legislative Assembly on May 18, 1990, said: “Two things, I have been able to learn: Racial and extreme religious practices and politics that tend to divide the people must be fought by all people. These two things cannot be compromised as the development of the future cannot afford to accommodate negative elements”.

He outlined the fact that the Politics of Development is not a slogan. It is making politics substantial to the demands of development. The politics of development dictates in the people the kind of attitude that places demands of development above own politics as long as they do not conflict with the prospects of survival. 

He believes that politics of development provides a common forum, which can bring all parties together to learn how to compromise and get the leadership to contribute towards better ways of implementing policies for the benefits of the people. 

Even in his own party PBB, which has more Bumiputra learning, the leaders, in their discussions of major policies, talk about the interests of other communities too. In other words, they want to ensure that justice must prevail in the way the government deals with all communities. 

Generally, the politics of development outlines roles of elected representatives, civil servants and community leaders in the process of development. For example, it requires elected representatives of the people to weigh between short-term and long-term benefits and make efforts to convince the people that a long-term programme, which can have comprehensive coverage of the whole state, is more important than short-term ones.

He said the people must be prepared to start from a different premise and think of what they can do by co-operation rather than by fighting.  In this regards, they should all think what they can do for the people by being patient in building up the momentum for a strong development.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib was happy with the progress of the implementation of the politics of development as the philosophy of development. In his speech during the sitting of the State Legislative Assembly on May 14, 1996 he said: “After 10 years of politics of development has helped to convince us that, for the success in development and in services of the people, state and country it is better to have politics of cooperation rather than politics of confrontation.  

He said the fact that racial harmony is being built on solid foundation and that everybody is working for the country rather than his group or race, speaks well for the future.  Hence, the politics of development has provided the kind of stability to make Sarawak a place where economics development can be implemented not only by the government but by the private sector as well.

However, conscientious efforts must be made to reduce politicking among the people, as they do not give the people, state and country a better future.  Politicking may comfort people emotionally or provide a sense of security albeit a false sense of security because promises can never be fulfilled without power or authority. 
He said any movement that tends to confuse people and get them to be bogged down in useless squabbles and turning them away from the necessity of participating in the process of adjustment to the new situation, is an anti-development activity; the people who follow anti-government propaganda will be left out in the process of development. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib assured that the State government, being led by him, is obliged to fight against any form of racialism or religious extremism because they are like cancer that saps the energy of the people, who should put maximum efforts behind the developmental drive. The development programme, which is new and innovative in concept, if successfully implemented, can give maximum impact to the people.

He said the people must together fight against conservative forces and correct any misunderstandings, natural or induced, on the ground. The government, on its part must introduce new concept of development, which entails new ways of doing things and have the commitment to bring the people to the mainstream of development. 

 Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib made it an obligation to remind the people that the State has no majority from any particular groups.  Therefore, they should avoid arguing that certain groups can become a majority or certain groups should dominate and there should be politics of dominance of one group over the other groups.

Admittedly, it is an attractive way of trying to wrestle power but does not provide a guarantee to a smooth development of the future as development must be able to increase the size of wealth and develop good distribution machinery for the people to benefit from it. 

He kept on reminding the people that though Sarawak’s economy is strong with a big reserve and good credit ratings they cannot rest on our laurels with Industrialisation and sustainable development as the ways forward towards the year 2020 and beyond.

He is confident that industrialisation through the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) will carry Sarawak through to the year 2030 and beyond.  

Sarawak Monitor
15 June 2015