How Did BN Achieve A Landslide Victory In Sarawak?

BN has swept 72 out of 82 seats in the House.

Cover image via Malaysiakini/Norman Goh

The 11th Sarawak state election yesterday, 7 May, saw Barisan Nasional winning a glorious victory by capturing 72 seats out of the 82-seat state assembly

Sarawak's Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem

Image via Malaysiakini/Norman Goh

While the official results were only released around 11pm last night, local news sites started reporting on BN's wins earlier in the evening.

Just two hours after the electoral votes calculation started, BN had reportedly won a simple majority, with over 44 seats while the opposition parties were slugging behind with only a few seats under their belt.

The voter's turnout on the other hand, was less than satisfactory as the Election Commission announced that only 52% out of 1,109,795 registered voters turned up as of 4pm, yesterday.

"We don’t know the exact reasons, but many of the voters could be away on holiday," said EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah, as quoted by Malaysiakini.

Here's a breakdown of the Sarawak election wins:

Summary of the 11th Sarawak State Election's results

Image via Twitter/Barisan Nasional

Barisan Nasional's wins:

- Parti Persaka Bumi Bersatu (PBB): Won all 40 seats they contested for.
- Sarawak Peoples' Party: Scooped up all the 11 seats contested.
- BN's direct candidates: Won 11 out of 13 seats.
- Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP): Managed to win three out of 5 seats they contested for.
- Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP): Won seven out of 13 seats.

The opposition's tumbling defeat:

- Democratic Action Party (DAP): Won only seven out of the 31 seats they contested for.
- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR): Defended all three of its seats.

BN's win lead to the ruling party conquering 87.8% of the House.

This landslide win comes in the midst of BN's many alleged financial and corruption scandals.

While this may seem surprising to many in peninsular Malaysia, most political analysts had, in fact, predicted that Team Adenan would win this round of elections.

Image via Malaysiakini

A poll by Merdeka Center recently revealed that a large number of Sarawakians feel that they are being unfairly treated by Putrajaya, which is governed by Barisan Nasional.

Interestingly enough, it is the same party that they have generously voted for, time and time again, making Sarawak a Barisan stronghold in the general elections over the past decades.

The locals, especially in grass-roots level have applauded CM Adenan's liberal ways and his efforts of not politicising the harmonious state of Sarawak.

For starters, Adenan has shown great disapproval over the usage of the word "immigrants" to describe ethnic Sarawakian Chinese and abolished all tolls in the state.

For almost half a century, Barisan Nasional has comfortably and easily won the elections in the eastern state despite the strong negative sentiments against the party in west Malaysia

Image via Astro Awani

This time around, instead of using Barisan Nasional and it's key leaders including its scandal-ridden president Datuk Seri Najib as motivating factors in the elections, Adenan had cleverly stripped the entire Barisan facade from the election campaigns.

Using only the theme "Team Adenan", he has easily won the elections. But the root of the matter is that most Sarawakians are still unsatisfied about the lack of development in the state, especially in rural areas and the native community.

From unpaved roads, no proper school systems in rural areas to the lack of respect for native rights and lands, the list of complaints against the rulers of the state is pretty long.

According to a piece by Bernama, BN has reportedly accumulated 63.72% of the popular votes from the 11th state election which saw a 8.32% increase from the last state election in 2011.

So, why not vote for the opposition, especially since DAP has embarked and successfully completed many ambitious projects with their Impian Sarawak program for the rural community?

DAP's Petaling Jaya Utara MP, Tony Pua is one of the main person behind the Impian Malaysia program and is very actively involved in its projects

Image via Impian Malaysia/Facebook

Since 2013, the opposition party has actually made solid changes in a number of rural Sarawak villages by bringing running water system, education camps, and electricity to the local community.

Many would have easily assumed that their enthusiasm would have driven the locals to vote for the opposition parties. The issue here is that, these people that they have helped are mostly natives that are not exactly in touch or interested in current politics.

It is the urbanites that contribute to a great deal of the votes, mostly. They are highly aware of the issues Barisan Nasional and the people are facing in west Malaysia such as power plays, corruption and clampdown on freedom of speech, to name a few.

However, the political scene in Sarawak is a little different. Their concerns are still on a very basic level as development is yet to reach all parts of the state. While we huff and puff about corrupt politicians, they are trying to get the leaders to provide them with basic necessities.

The reasons for the opposition parties' disappointing loss can be pinned on mainly the fact that they have failed to put up a united front

PKR and DAP battled against each other in six constituencies, all of which were won by Barisan yesterday.

A report by Malaysiakini revealed how political analyst, Jeniri Amir said that both PKR and DAP were "rightfully punished" for not being able to put aside their differences for the greater good of the opposition coalition.

Jeniri also mentioned that this year's situation is little more tricky for the opposition. In 2011, the opposition was trying to oust unpopular, then CM Abdul Taib Mahmud, which resonated with what Sarawakians wanted them.

"1MDB is not a sexy issue in Sarawak," said Jeniri to Malaysiakini. The opposition parties have been using the scandal-ridden state fund and their breakthrough with the rural community as their campaign MO.

Refusing to be discouraged by the crushing defeat, DAP has vowed to continue paving ways into the rural heartlands of Sarawak

"We will continue to penetrate the rural constituencies; we have made the correct decision.

"DAP needs to get out of rural areas to become a multi-ethnic party.

"How are we going to do that, (we need) to study and do introspection before deciding our strategy," said Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen at a press conference after the state poll results were announced.

Apart from losing in all the rural seats it contested in, DAP also lost five out of the 12 urban seats it held.

What's next for Sarawak?

With another term to make substantial changes and progress in Sarawak, BN's leader and Prime Minister Najib Razak has vowed to work on the 'Sarawak for Sarawakians' agreement

"When there is 'Sarawak for Sarawakians' sentiment, it means Sarawak wants the federal government to consider its rights within the framework of the federal constitution.

"The principle is ‘Sarawak Merdeka dalam Malaysia’," said Najib after CM Adenan's swearing in ceremony in Kuching yesterday, as reported by Malaysiakini.

"In the second stage, we will look at what legislation and legal provisions can be considered by the federal government based on the consensus between the federal and state governments," added Najib, while explaining that the federal government will take the wishes and concerns of Sarawakians into consideration.

While Sarawak's BN continues to work hand in hand with the locals for a more developed and well-equipped state, the question remains on whether these progressive changes will reach the native and rural community

Meanwhile, west Malaysians are not too happy with the election results in Sarawak:

In the midst of the polling process yesterday, reports of BN bribing voters surfaced:

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