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Media statement by Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 23rd April 2011: 

If there is any generalisation of the Sarawak general elections is to be done it should not be based on demographic trends based on race but geographical trends based on location 

In this holy Easter celebration to mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the Lord Jesus resurrection, is also an occasion to to renew Christians' vows of faith in truth, hope and love. Christians regardless of skin colour have prayed for peace and prosperity. Christians have also prayed for wisdom and compassion in our leaders. Most important of all Christians pray for truth to guide Malaysians in our daily affairs.

All religions celebrate these common values of truth, unity in diversity, freedom of choice and peace. We must seek truth from facts and not allow sentiments to be ruled by blind emotion.

Those fanning racial sentiments by accusing DAP of playing racial politics should cease immediately. The results of the 2011 Sarawak Election have proven that the desire and movement for change is not confined to one community alone but spread across the various communities of Sarawak.

The Pakatan Rakyat's success, and the DAP's in particular, would not have been possible without the increase in support from all communities in Sarawak. This is especially evident in semi-rural seats such as Kidurong, Piasau, Batu Kawah and Meradong, all of which were won by the DAP. Even PKR's narrow loss in Senadin exemplifies this point. For a clearer perspective, refer to the table below.

Area Opposition gains in % share of majority
Rural 14.8
Semi-Rural 19.7
Urban 13.4
Source: Bridget Welsh/MKini

As Prof Bridget Welsh has stated in her detailed analysis of the election results, increase in Opposition gains is most obvious in mixed constituencies and semi-rural areas. In addition, it would appear that in many areas, the Opposition swing is even more obvious in non-Chinese communities, as the following table illustrates.

Majority seats Average opposition gains in % of votes compared to 2006
Chinese 13.4
Iban 14.2
Bidayuh 17.9
Malay 18.4
Orang Ulu 20.5
Mixed 24.8
Source: Bridget Welsh/MKini

However, it is important to note that the swing is not uniform across the state. There are pockets in which the BN managed to achieve swings in their favour. This applies to Chinese-majority seats as well, such as Bawang Assan, in which our candidate lost by an increased margin compared to 2006. This is to be expected in a state as large as Sarawak, and where the divide between Chinese and non-Chinese but more between rural and urban.

Factors such as access to information, local issues and candidate choice played key roles as well. The BN was able to mitigate their losses by replacing many unwanted incumbents with new faces. However, as the results have shown, there was not enough effort put in. Many of the old guard were shown the exit, most notably Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

Prof Bridget's hypothesis is supported by Dr Ong Kian Ming's analysis, which shows that 23 non-Muslim Bumiputra-majority seats experienced an increase in support for the Opposition. Again, while this pattern did not propagate itself across the board, the level of shift is enough to concur with Prof Bridget's view that the Ibans, Bidayuhs and in particular the Orang Ulus, have indeed moved towards Pakatan Rakyat.

In addition, it would also appear that our Pakatan Rakyat coalition managed to increase gains in 13 Malay/Melanau-majority seats, as compared to gains in 8 seats for the BN. According to Dr Ong, this would not have been possible without an increase in Bumiputra support for the Opposition.

In other words, if there is any generalisation of the Sarawak general elections is to be done it should not be based on demographic trends based on race but geographical trends based on location. PR won more votes or more seats because PR won the urban votes regardless whether they were Chinese, Dayak or Bidayuh. BN managed to retain their seats because they still retained or did not lose sufficient rural support whether they were Chinese, Dayak or Bidayuh.

Hence, those trying to twist the result into a racial issue are acting irresponsibly. What is crystal clear is that the voter rejection of Barisan Nasional has less to do with racial considerations but more to do with the issues afflicting them. Sarawakians have declared in a loud voice that they have had enough of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his brand of monopolistic politics. They have rejected his brother-in-law George Chan and by voting in 15 Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen, they have sent a clear signal that Taib must leave immediately.

The results also mean that Sarawak is no longer BN's 'fixed deposit'. The shift in voting pattern not only in urban areas, but also in semi-rural and rural areas such as Ba¡¯kelalan and Krian is proof that there is widespread discontentment with the BN Government.

The rakyat of Sarawak are tired of the widespread abuse of power, corruption, cronyism and lack of infrastructural development while the political elite manage to accumulate massive wealth for themselves. If Taib Mahmud still does not go now, then the swing towards PR will be more pronounced in the coming parliamentary general elections.

*Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan



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