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Radio Ubah, ‘ngap sayot’ plan for Sarawak

 | June 10, 2013

The notion of what happens in Sarawak and Sabah stays within the states is no longer tenable, says DAP.

KUCHING:  Encouraged by the increased support from the rural communities in the recently concluded general election, Sarawak DAP has come up with a number of strategies in order to make further inroads into the rural areas.

“We will open up branches particularly in 20 constituencies which we want to contest in the coming state general election,” said Dr  John Brian, Chairman of DAP Dayak consultative Committee.

“Besides setting up these branches, we will also seriously consider setting up ‘Radio Ubah’ which will help DAP in particular and Pakatan in general to put across our messages to the rural areas.

“Currently our main problem is that our message does not reach out to the rural masses as a result not many understand DAP’s policies and struggles,” he said.

Brian, who is also a member of Sarawak DAP State Committee, said that with the setting up of this ‘Radio Ubah’ it is hoped that the party would be able to put across its messages, to explain its policies and struggles more effectively.

Brian was among 120 delegates attending the 13th State DAP convention held in Kuching on Sunday. It was officiated by DAP Secretary General and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Brian said: “As part of our strategy for the rural areas, we will have permanent staff to man our DCC office, to coordinate all stages of activities and to improve our communication with the rural people.

“I think with this type of preparations we can hope to see more positive results coming from the rural areas in the coming general election,” he said.

Meanwhile the party has  agreed to establish a rural development sub-committee to be headed by the party’s deputy chairman Chiew Chiu Sing.

He would be assisted by Brian and Leon Jimat Donald and Dr. Bob Baru.

‘Ngap sayot’ Iban battle cry

According to the newly elected Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, the sub-committee would submit a plan to make inroads into the rural areas.

He described the party’s rural drive as an uphill task due to machinery and financial constraints, but pointed out that the party had its political will and determination.

“We believe that we can improve the lives of the rural people and improve our country by bringing change to the rural areas,” Chong said.

Earlier when officiating  the convention,  the DAP secretary general  Lim Guan Eng,  called on Sarawak DAP to adopt ‘ngap sayot’ as its battle cry in addition to ‘Ubah’ to spearhead its campaign in the rural areas.

‘Ngap sayot’ means to attack and win in the Iban language. The phrase was very popular with the Sarawak football team during its heydays in the 1990s when it was led by coach Awang mahyan.

The phrase is associated with the idea of going forward and on the offensive.

Asked to explain what he meant by ‘ngap sayot’, Lim who is Penang Chief Minister said:  “I am talking about the combination of ‘Ubah- Ngap Sayot’.

Opposition’s four challenges

During his speech he had also listed out four important challenges for the state party to move forward in its efforts to widen its influence and to establish its foothold in  the rural areas.

“These challenges are important in view of the coming state general election which may be called in 2015.

“Firstly, DAP in Sarawak must rise to the challenge of enhancing the party’s structure as a national party. This means the issues of concern to Sarawak must be seen as national issues and those national issues must also be seen and interpreted through a Sarawakian perspective.

“Sarawak problems are Malaysian problems,” he said.

Citing some examples, he said: “We have seen how allegations of massive corruption against the Chief Minister of Sarawak Abdul Taib Mahmud, affects not just the good name of the State of Sarawak and its people, but it also tarnishes the reputation of the country as a whole.

“We have also seen how cases involving palm oil plantations in Sarawak not obtaining roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) certification can affect the reputation of the entire industry in the country.

“When is the ‘one Malaysia, one Price’ going to be effected?

“When is poverty going to be eradicated and Native Customary Land of native Ibans going to be respected?” he asked

Lim said while “fully accepting“ the co-equal status of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawakians should “ no longer accept the false dichotomy” that whatever happens  in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia do not affect one another.

“The notion that ‘what happens in Sarawak stays in Sarawak’ is clearly a false notion that has been propagated by the BN in order to scare Sarawakians into continuing to support the BN and Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud,” he said.

Fight for electoral reforms

On the second challenge, Lim said that they must continue to fight for electoral reform in the country and especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Tens of thousands of Sarawakians are living and working in Peninsular Malaysia. They must be permitted to cast a postal ballot just like how Malaysians overseas.

“Without this change, the turnout rate in Sarawak, which was 76% in GE13, cannot be on par with turnout in Peninsular Malaysia, which was 86.5% in GE13,” he said.

Lim also stressed that they also must fight for the ‘one man, one vote, one-value principle’ in the coming re-delineation exercise so that the unfair advantages enjoyed by the BN can be somewhat reduced.

The last re-delineation exercise in Sarawak was completed in 2005.

“Eight years on, in 2013 it is possible that the Election Commission (EC) may want to conduct this exercise in Sarawak as well.

“If the Sarawak review occurs this year, then we must push for the size of disparity between voters per seat to be significantly reduced.

“Here I would like to stress that the present proportion of parliamentary seats allocated to Sabah and Sarawak shall not change for the traditional rights of both states granted when they joined Malaya in 1963 to form the federation of Malaysia.

“In other words, what we are seeking for is neither reducing the number of parliamentary seats nor reducing the proportion of parliamentary seats in a future enlarged Malaysian Parliament,” he explained.

‘One-man one vote, one-value’

Sarawak currently has 31 parliamentary seats. In the May 5 general election BN lost eight seats toDAP and PKR.

Lim said that regardless of the number of parliament and state seats which may or may not be added, the obvious examples of unequal distribution of voters in seats within Sarawak is already a great cause of concern and a violation of the ‘one-man, one-vote, one-value’ principle.

“For example, we can no longer sustain having Stampin with 86,000 voters on the one hand and Igan with a mere 17,815 voters (ratio 4.75:1). The same applies to the state seats as well where the largest seat, Pending, has more than 30,000 voters, while the smallest Ba’Kelalan has only slightly more than 7,000 voters, a ratio of 4.3 to1.

“The focus here should be to reduce the size of these disparities. DAP appreciates that geography can be equally important as demography in a state as large as Sarawak.

“Accordingly, DAP is proposing a special consideration of a maximum voter disparity between constituencies in both states of 100% instead of the baseline 15% disparity that was in the original Merdeka constitution of 1957 for Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

The next Sarawak state election is expected to be in 2016.

In regards to this Lim urged the state DAP to strengthen its machinery in the rural areas in a “non-threatneing and persuasive manner”.

“The important issues will again resolve around BN’s mercenary rule where resources are reserved for the few and when will Taib Mahmud retire as promised in the 2011 state general election


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