PETALING JAYA: Tian Chua of PKR said today the Opposition failed to win the just concluded Sarawak state election because they neither respected nor understood the locals.
He also regretted that some Opposition supporters had stooped “so low as to call the locals stupid for not voting in the Opposition.”
He said the Opposition needed to respect the decision of the locals to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) and strive to understand the complexity of the issues in Sarawak which were different from those in the peninsula.
“If they voted for BN, respect their wishes. If they had obtained monetary gains from BN, we should understand why they did that. We should not put them down for that,” he told FMT today.
The Sarawak election was held on May 7. BN won 72 seats and DAP, seven while PKR won in Krian, Ba’kelalan and Batu Lintang.
The PKR vice-president said the Sarawak war for votes was not about reaching out to voters via social media or ceramah held during the election period.
“Locals say if they vote for the Opposition, they will have to face the village heads and district officers. They say when they face intimidation for land acquisition and other matters, we are not there on behalf of them,” alleged Tian Chua.
“It is easier for Sarawakians to vote for the ruling party. They don’t mind any monetary gains and vote for BN because life is easier for them and their communities after the elections,” he added.
One of the ways to solve the issue was by appointing more local activists in Sarawak to fight local issues, said the Batu MP.
For instance, PKR did very well in one of the most remote areas in Sarawak, Ba’kelalan because the locals were aware their candidate Baru Bian, a lawyer, would be there for them.
He said PKR won Ba’kelalan despite BN’s promises to build churches and roads, which clearly showed that the locals wanted a candidate who would stand for their rights.
“Baru Bian is there for them. It gives them assurance. That is what they want.”
He said PKR would want to duplicate this example in the rest of Sarawak in their preparation for the next Sarawak state election.
He said they should not blame BN for having better facilities, such as helicopters to visit remote areas while the Opposition had to take boats or “literally crawl into very remote areas to meet voters. They need to know we will be there for them all the time and not only during the elections.”
Many Opposition grassroots from outside the state, who couldn’t fathom the loss, called Sarawakians “brainless voters” and “stupid sohai Sarawakians.”
Earlier today, Opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail gave her assurance that PKR would learn from its shortcomings in the Sarawak election to prepare for the next general election.
She said she had asked the leadership to identify weaknesses, to learn from their shortcomings and to take necessary steps to correct the party’s strategy and organisational capacity in time for the next big battle – GE14.