As good a time to reflect

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Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.

– Peggy Noonam, columnist

Make no mistake about it, the state election is just around the corner. Somehow everyone knows that it’s going to happen one way or the other.

Five years have passed. Two years under the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government from 2016 to 2018 as a government state. Another two years as an opposition state under Pakatan Harapan (PH).

In the last one year, we returned to being a government state under the Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional (PN) umbrella.

Surely lots of changes, where suddenly Putrajaya who was our friend, became a nemesis. All of a sudden, the spirit of federation, which goes both ways, was a stick to beat us with.

Among others, when Sarawak was an opposition state, the projects that were approved and slated for implementation under the previous federal government were cancelled.

Allocations were only given for the sake of political mileage and efforts to return the state’s eroded rights were cosmetic at best.

The state’s request for the federal government to repair the dilapidated school here fell on deaf ears, it was only after Sarawak, who forked out RM1 billion of its own money as an advance that the wheels got moving.

Even then, after the money was paid, the repair projects didn’t take off as swiftly as we had hoped even after the kids were held to ransom by a certain finance minister.

The federal government under PH then started to strategise on how to best wrest the state; to ‘conquer’ Sarawak as they put it.

Efforts were made to set up their own community council, mirroring that of the role of our traditional village safety and development committees (JKKKs), purportedly to disseminate information from the federal government.

But then again, the catch was that these roles were to only be filled by appointees of the federal government. Not to mention that their federal village community management council (MPKKP) was in breach of the state’s own ordinances.

The politicking and scheming was to no end and because they were in the honeymoon period of their recent win during the 14th general election (GE14), people didn’t bat an eye.

So-called defenders of Sarawak rights leaning with the federal government of old, who was vocal suddenly found it in themselves to make compromises to toe the party line.

Suddenly state laws didn’t even matter anymore and suddenly it was the people of Sarawak who are making unrealistic demands, despite them promising to deliver it in the first place in their election manifesto.

So what is the point of me bringing all these old stuff up? Well, apparently there are some of us who are really forgetful of how difficult it was, being bullied into submission by a vengeful lot.

The bitter experiences should be taken as a lesson by everyone – not to fall for sweet promises and retain a formula that works.

You may have heard this a million times: “Easier said than done”. It’s an adage probably as old as time as still as poignant in the context of today’s politics.

The swing voters in GE14 found this the hard way when a major portion of the election pledges by the winning coalition was not able to be fulfilled.

Same time this round, one would assume in the state election. Of course, there will be carrots being dangled in front of the voters with wild ideas aplenty.

There will be many geniuses across social media coming up with their own solutions to the current problems relating to the state even when it is not within their qualification or expertise.

In the end I think, we have to be a smarter lot this time. We can’t be deceived by promises that sound too good to be true.

While the fluid political situation in Malaya fuelled by the polarisation over there across the South China Sea is to the delight of the politicians, it has been detrimental to the people, weakening unity, social cohesion and race relations.

We simply can’t afford to be divided. Not when we have a lot of catching up to do in terms of development, uplifting the living standards of the people as well as improving the local economy.

We are grateful people. “Kita tahu erti berterima kasih,” as the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem put it.

We know what’s good for us and what’s not. We have to embrace the formula that works all along.

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