Of political bees and hornets …

Actually, I have this random fear, and it’s of bees and wasps. Bees and wasps actually scare me just a little bit. I’d rather have a snake or a crocodile, yes… I appreciate them, and I love them, but I have a slight fear.   

Bindi Irwin, Australian TV personality

Politicians have certainly been busy as bees.

Well, busy keeping the coffee shop chitchat alive and well. I suppose it is a break from the mostly Covid-19 topics.

Internationally, the USA held its presidential election on November 3. This presidential election campaign has been the most acrimonious to date.

The two main candidates have been Republican incumbent Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States, and Democrat former vice president Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

The results are clear, showing that Biden has won the election.

A major hiccup has stalled this process. Trump has refused to concede, as predicted by many political pundits.

President Trump has gone into major denial of his loss of office and refuses to accept the obvious fact that Biden has won.

This on-going spectacle, however, has captivated people worldwide.

Trump has deployed various delaying manoeuvres ranging from challenging the results in states where he lost, a disinformation campaign to thwarting funding to the incoming transition team.

Well America, the world is watching. If you are not careful you might descend into a banana republic status.

We do, however, wish you all the best. After all, the US economy accounts for about a quarter of the world gross domestic product.

There is a saying that ‘When the US sneezes, the world catches a cold — meaning there are major economic consequences globally.

In our own parliament, we have not been devoid of controversies.

Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing on November 11 had a go at our popular Health director-general (DG) Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah in Parliament.

He highlighted that Dr Noor Hisham had not visited Bintulu during the recent Covid-19 outbreak. He then ventured to ask if the reason for his absence was because the doctor takut mati (afraid to die).

This prompted a major outpouring of support for the DG and a huge backlash against Tiong.

He is generally known to have a combative approach to issues he feels strongly about and is no stranger to controversy.

In June of this year through his fundraising efforts, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) lab was set up in Bintulu Hospital to speed up Covid-19 test results.

He has now apologised in a press statement but the pressure is piling on for him to make an apology in Parliament.

Moving closer to home, our Dewan Undangan Negri was also in session.

The Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2020 with two amendments under Article 16 relating to the qualification of members of the Dewan Undangan Negri to was tabled.

I will not go into detail about the much-discussed amendments. The first amendment lowered the eligibility of voting from 21 years of age to 18 years. 

It was the second proposed amendment that created a stir.

After a debate on the amendment, the Speaker withdrew the proposed amendment due to an anomaly. Basically, it was not well drafted.

The opposition had a field day claiming credit.

It was tabled again with amendments making it the exclusive right and privilege of local Sarawakians to be DUN members.

While there is mostly jubilation all around about the passing of this ‘Sarawak for Sarawakian’ amendment, there is still a way for non-Sarawakian Malaysians to represent Sarawak.

How? You may ask. Well, this amendment only applies to an election to our DUN, not to Parliament.

However, I would not place a bet on a Malayan’s chance of winning here.

All said and done, one clear and positive event was the presentation of the Sarawak Budget by our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

It was well received by the rakyat and passed smoothly by our legislature.

This shows that having an effective and stable government is important. During good economic times, there is no actual ‘stress test’ for governments.

It is during challenging economic times such as now that a government is tested to its limits.

The Sarawak government has managed the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent socio-economic crises very well to date.

I sincerely hope this achievement in governance is remembered by the rakyat when they next have the opportunity to go to the ballot.

At the outset, I mentioned that politicians have been busy as bees. It is important to note that bees are productive creatures and are beneficial to our ecosystem.

It is for you to decide which one are bees and therefore productive and which ones are hornets that go purely for the kill.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.