Analyst spells out Opposition’s mistakes in Sarawak

taib-mahmudSUBANG JAYA: The failure to target former Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud was one of the factors contributing to the Opposition’s severe beating in the recent Sarawak election, says academician James Chin.

“It was a refusal to use Taib for their main campaign. They opted for Najib instead. If they had targeted Taib, especially in the rural areas, they would have done better,” Chin said at a public lecture at Sunway University today.

“Also, Adenan is not as much a household name in the rural areas as Taib is,” he said referring to Chief Minister Adenan Satem who took over from Taib in March 2014. Taib is now the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak.

In the lecture, titled “The 2016 Sarawak Election: Team Adenan and Other Stories”, Chin spoke about the other crucial mistakes made by the Opposition during the election.

The mistakes included the disagreement between DAP and PKR over seats, which he said had demoralised younger urban voters.

“It was a petty issue over who is better suited. DAP and PKR spent precious media coverage to ‘prove’ (their fitness for) Batu Kitang,” Chin said.

“You could also say it was due to limited personal relations between the leaders.”

Another mistake, he said, was the Opposition’s inability to understand political symbols, and the power that would have been afforded them by taking down SUPP president Sim Kui Hian.

“In Batu Kawah, DAP did not provide additional resources to fight BN. The crucial candidate (to watch) was SUPP president Sim Kui Hian.

“For symbolic purposes, DAP should have taken down the rival SUPP leader. DAP had a weak candidate who needed significant additional help,” Chin added.

According to Chin, PKR had also made the mistake of spreading themselves too thin.

“The party knew that its machinery was unable to cope with 40 seats but went ahead anyway. DAP was more strategic, pushing resources into selected Bidayuh and Iban areas,” Chin said.