Tuesday, August 16, 2022

It is not time yet for the DAP to win Dayak-majority constituencies

Secara Rawak

I fully agree with Associate Professor Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in his observation that the DAP does not stand a chance of winning any Dayak seats in the coming Sarawak state election.

There are many reasons for the DAP to fail to win the rural Dayak seats.

First, the party has only started penetrating the rural areas two or three years ago  so it is considered as a “new” political organisation among the rural Dayaks, secondly, there is little visible impact of the party’s rural penetration drive and third, the Dayaks are strong supporters of the Barisan Nasional.

The popularity of Chief Minister Adenan Satem among the rural voters with his people-centric policies is also not working in favour of the DAP. Reduction of electricity tariffs and more allocations for infrastructural development under the rural transformation programme are among the policies that are attractive to the people.

I do not think that raising up of  allegations against Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Goods and Service Tax (GST) have any significant impact among the rural population.

The rural people are more concerned with the bread-and-butter issues. Perhaps the allegations against Najib and GST will somewhat have some influences on the town voters to support the opposition.

The issue of NCR land, however, will only have limited impact in certain areas where there are disputes between the natives on one hand and the state government and plantation companies on the other.

As in the 2011 state election, the NCR land issue did not result in the opposition winning Dayak seats where cases of disputes over NCR land were rampant. The dissatisfactions of the native landowners were not fully translated into more votes for the opposition to beat the Barisan Nasional.

Perhaps, the time has not come yet for the Dayaks to fully accept the DAP.

But if the DAP wants to contest in the Dayak-majority seats in the coming election, it is merely for experience and to test the response of its rural drive under the Impian Sarawak project among the rural population.

Although the DAP claims that about 60 % of its total members are Dayaks, it does not mean that the party is well received by the community. It should not and cannot be used as a yardstick to measure its popularity among the politically divided Dayak community.

And last year’s admission of a group of educated Dayaks into the party is no indication that it has the support of the educated Dayaks. We must look at the backgrounds of these educated Dayaks.` Well educated yes, but they are not well known among the community. So, they cannot be said to be the representatives of the whole community. They are also not that politically influential among the community.

As far as we know, they do not have the charismas of the likes of Daniel Tajem, Leo Moggie and James Masing, who can attract large number of people to their sides.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), formed in 1983, was able to attract educated and ordinary Dayaks because the leaders then were Moggie and Tajem.

Moggie-Tajem combination was the key factor why a large number of Dayaks supported PBDS.

It is not time yet for the DAP to win Dayak-majority constituencies

The DAP does not have leaders who are as charismatic and influential as Moggie, Tajem and Masing.

Although Moggie and Tajem have retired from politics, they are still being respected highly not only by the Dayaks but also by other communities.

Does the DAP has that kind of Dayak leaders who can influence the Dayaks to support the party? With regret, I say “none”. I mean no insult to them. They have to work very hard to win the support of the Dayak community.

The Dayak leaders of the DAP cannot expect instant results to come out of the Impian Sarawak project which was launched two years ago.  It takes years to bear fruits, provided that they have the patience and staying power to wait.

The DAP’s rural drive was mooted by the party boss Lim Kit Siang just after the 2011 state election.

After the success of the party in the town centres, Lim saw the need to penetrate the largely Dayak areas and to expand its areas of influence outside the largely Chinese-dominated town centres.

Since it did not have any roots in the rural areas, Lim suggested that the penetration could be done through a cooperation or merger with the Sarawak National Party (SNAP). The suggestion, however, was not acceptable to SNAP because of certain conditions involved.

Spurned by SNAP, the DAP formed the Dayak Consultative Committee in 2013 whose task was to spearhead the party’s Go Rural drive and to attract educated Dayaks as party members.

For the record, the DAP established its wing in Sarawak in 1978 after a Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) faction, led by lawyer Chong Siew Chiang, who was then Repok state assemblyman, left to open up the DAP Sarawak.

It was only some 18 years later, in the 1996 state election, that the party made a historic breakthrough of winning three state seats – Wong Ho Leng in Bukit Assek, Wong Sing Nang in Pelawan and Wong Sing Ai in Kidurong.

In the 1982 general election, the DAP won two parliamentary seats through Ling Sie Ming (Bandar Sibu) and Sim Kwang Yang (Bandar Kuching) who defeated their respective rivals from SUPP.

In the following general election, Ling lost his seat to a SUPP candidate, Teu Sung Seng, and Sim was defeated by Song Swee Guan of SUPP in the 1995 general election.

So, the question is can the Dayaks in DAP have the staying power to wait- which can mean many years –  before the party can win any Dayak majority seats? – SARAWAKVOICE.COM

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