Malayans are tripping over each other to have a bite at ‘kek lapis Sarawak’. Yes, political Sarawak is like its famous layered cake – mouthwateringly delicious and juicy, and something that Malayans cannot say no to.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been here, and he knows the cake is irresistible, addictive rather.
Well before him, it was the DAP people, and because they have been here longer, they have been chewing quite a lot, surely more than Anwar and PKR.
Today both PKR and DAP are camping here in Sarawak, or rather they have got themselves a ‘bilik’ each in a longhouse somewhere where they have been dancing to some gong music in the company of Sarawakians.
DAP draws Sarawakians from six parliamentary and five state seats while PKR, five parliamentary and three state seats.
The order of the day appears to be that the earliest bird, in this case DAP, gets the fattest of the worms, hard therefore to not see why Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Bersatu chairman, could not resist coming to Sarawak.
For Dr Mahathir, it was as if it was a case of better late than never; it did not matter that being the prime minister, he should have been given a red carpet welcome when he landed at Bintulu airport to launch Bersatu Sarawak last Saturday.
But Sarawakians didn’t accord him that kind of welcome, clearly because he came not as prime minister but as Bersatu chairman, and Sarawakians in the majority disdain Malayans and their condescending politics.
No doubt there is no beating Dr Mahathir in a lot of things, but like most Malayans, he too does not understand Sarawakians.
Otherwise, he would not have come to Bintulu and said the things he said.
He said as far as the federal government is concerned, Sarawak is part of Malaysia and the state’s development is Putrajaya’s responsibility.
Indeed it is. Putrajaya is legally and morally obligated to develop the state to be at par with the rest of Malaysia.
Unfortunately, Putrajaya has had 55 years to fulfill its obligation to Sarawak but all it has to show is a state that cries foul.
At the end of 55 years, instead of being a developed state, Sarawak is today anchored at the bottom half of the Malaysian development ladder, screaming injustice and demanding the return of its original rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Sarawak feels the nation has made so much and taken so much out of its oil and gas resources, but what has been spent on Sarawak does not reflect its contributions to the national coffer.
Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying: “We would, of course, prefer a government that is friendly, that is of the same party as the federal (Pakatan Harapan) government. But whether it is a different or same government, federal projects in Sarawak will go on.”
But the fact is Putrajaya has cancelled 315 Projek Mesra Rakyat and making very little provision to repair dilapidated schools in the state while some projects are being scaled down.
If anything, Dr Mahathir’s statement only shows his less-than-friendly attitude towards the GPS which has decided to be its own master.
Dr Mahathir sounds like he is angry because he cannot tell GPS what to do like he used to when he was prime minister and national BN chief for 22 years before 2003.
Most of all, he is angry because in Sarawak he sees a recalcitrant state that does not seem likely to fall on its knees and beg for a lifeline, thus his acid sarcasm: “I think they (state government) wanted to lend it (RM1bil) to us, but the state government also owes money to us. We would just prefer if they just pay the money they are owing us…They have a lot of money and the budget for Sarawak is the biggest in Malaysia, RM11 billion (next year).”
Dr Mahathir returned to power, riding on the waves of allegations of corruption and kleptocracy against his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He toppled a 60-plus years government but he couldn’t do the same to Sarawak.
Here is a proud government, and a proud state, and rich too. (Development only did not happen enough because Putrajaya failed to do its part.) It has all the ingredients of a delicious ‘kek lapis Sarawak’.
The temptation is just too much. For 22 years he had salivated, but last Saturday he made up his mind he must take that bite.
Any ‘kek lapis Sarawak’ is mouthwatering anytime, but the Bersatu chairman may well find that with this particular layered cake he could be biting more than he could chew.