Q and A
Q1: With the conclusion of the GE14, Malaysians in general have rejected the Barisan Nasional. However, in Sarawak the backbone of the coalition PBB did very well delivering all but one of the 14 seats contested. With UMNO suffering a disastrous defeat in Kuala Lumpur resulting in PBB left in the lurch, how is PBB relevant in Malaysian politics?
A: Yes, we acknowledge the rakyat has spoken and have chosen their government of choice which we must all accept. We are thankful that PBB did well. Even though BN was not able to retain their foothold in Semenanjung and Sabah, much to our disbelief where the majority of rakyat rejected BN. We must emphasise that UMNO did not suffer a disastrous defeat but BN in general did.
Needless to say, we are grateful that PBB as an autonomous party is still intact despite BN’s defeat. We are proud to reinforce PBB’s stand as the relevant party that fights for all Sarawakians inclusively regardless of race, religion and region. PBB is exceptional as we differentiate ourselves through our Sarawak culture and value system which we embrace closely to our hearts.
Q2: Sarawak BN’s coalition’s SUPP performed so badly, that they lost all but one seat in the election where even their President lost badly. Coalition members PRS and SPDP also did not fare well with both parties suffering bad losses.
How do you mend this trend? Is this indicative of leadership problems within the coalition members or just the new political trend where the younger voters are rejecting the old system of addressing the current needs of the people? Is SUPP relevant since PH has DAP as an alternative??
A: We are mindful of the defeat of our coalition members and recognise the fact that the rakyat, particularly our younger voters’ desire for change and have their voices heard. We have failed in the war of perception to fulfil their aspiration of change and must engage more intensively with our younger generation in understanding their needs and expectations. We certainly need to relook, rethink and remake in the way we attract the younger generation and in placing their trust and confidence in us.
Q3: As you know, the Pan Borneo Highway was a result of your influence in UMNO. Now that the project is off, what does this mean for Sarawak which has been a “step-child” for far too long? It’s a sad situation as Sarawak is languishing at least 30 years behind the peninsular in terms or development!!
A: I must emphasise that the Pan Borneo Highway is a “Janji Ditepati” project by the previous Federal Government for the people of Sabah and Sarawak and not my influence in UMNO. The Pan Borneo Highway is a game changer for Sabah and Sarawak which will change the socio-economic landscape of Sabah and Sarawak. Without it, Sabah and Sarawak will be further left behind. As such, I am confident the Federal Government under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will ensure that the Pan Borneo Highway project be continued.
Q4: Do you personally have problems with the current PH leadership? As it is the MA63 issue which was first brought by CM Tan Sri Adenan Satem is at stake. The PH leadership has now asked Sarawak PH to handle the issue and there appears to be a stale-mate as it is alleged that the Sarawak CM Abang Johari has refused to sign agreement to the deal. Is this true? Can you enlighten us as to what is happening? The Sarawak PH has said that the MA63 cannot be implemented until the Sarawak PH coalition wins in the coming 2021 State election and forms the Sarawak government. If this is so, then there is no choice for the BN at Federal Level to win in the next parliamentary election in 2023! But is this possible?
Will we ever get back our rights?
A: Personally, I have no problem with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership as I have the highest respect for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is our former Prime Minister of 22 years and back as our new PM for the second time. On the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Abang Haji Openg has already announced that Sarawak will take a positive approach in maintaining good relations with the Federal Government under the PH leadership in order to claim our special rights which are defined in MA63.
Although we are technically an opposition state, we will take an open mind approach so that the MA63 can be discussed amicably for the best interest of the people of Sarawak. It is heartening to note that PH adviser DS Anwar Ibrahim himself has assured us through the PH’s Buku Harapan that they are committed to restoring the autonomous power of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
Q5: In the recent GE14 Sarawak has become the biggest losers. How can PBB ensure that Sarawak becomes relevant in Malaysian politics??
A: We would like to stress that Sarawak is not the biggest loser in GE14 due to the fact that we are unique and strategically independent in our approach in supporting and cooperating with the Federal Government of the day. We will continue to be proactive in monitoring the political landscape in protecting the rights of the State and all Sarawakians for the benefits of all of us. As the biggest party in Sarawak, PBB is committed to taking a leadership position in championing the aspirations of all Sarawakians by capturing their hearts and minds through structured reforms and transformation in managing the state in an efficient and transparent manner.
Q6: The Sarawak state general election is due in three years’ time. The Sarawak PH is determined to initiate a “Sarawak Tsunami” and wrest the Government of the day!!! Do you think this is possible, and is the Sarawak BN taking this challenge seriously or think this just an empty threat?
A: We cannot deny the fact that we will be facing the “Sarawak Tsunami” with the winds of change brought about by GE14. We must be mindful of the lessons learnt from GE14 if we are to remain relevant. We acknowledge our shortcomings and need to embrace an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance and compassion at all levels of our society that will strengthen and empower all Sarawakians in moving forward together. Doing the right thing and doing the things right has become a pivotal point in our mindset as we take vigilance of the voice of the Rakyat in GE14.
Q7: As it is, Sarawak’s PH counterparts in the Peninsular say Sarawak is a backward State because of our lazy people!!! And to quote Anwar Ibrahim, that is why we are the “poorest state” in Malaysia despite our wealth of natural resources!!!
A: Let Sarawak’s statictics speak for itself as we can easily verify our economic position in the Federation of Malaysia through the State’s financial reserves and statistics which are widely available.
Q8: Ordinary Sarawakians always ask, wage-earning YBs can own multi-million mansions?? What is the source of their income? What is your view of corruption, nepotism and cronyism? Is this prevalent in Sarawak and if true, what remedial measures can you suggest??
A: We are not in the position to comment on the purported YBs’ financial status as we do not have information on these allegations. However, there are avenues for complainants to voice their concerns and dissatisfactions which they can take up with the various authorities like the MACC, LHDN etc. The fight against corruption, nepotism and cronyism must be looked at in a broader and bigger perspective by all parties in the country, which we readily know that it cuts through all segments and strata of our supply chain and society. As such a comprehensive and holistic approach in adopting multipronged strategies and interventions will have to be carefully mapped out and implemented in combating this scourge that is compromising and jeopardizing our social economic fabric.
Q9: Having been part of the former BN government and former Minister of Works, you must have some friends in the present PH government. Many unkind words have been uttered against each other especially in the run-up to GE14. Is there any way Sarawak can bury the hatchet and work with the PH government for the benefit of Sarawak in particular?
A: GE14 was completed in a systematic and democratic way which we all should be proud of as Malaysians. The newly elected government must now start delivering and fulfilling their promises as spelled out in their manifesto. We all must move on as a country in achieving our Rakyat’s expectations and inspire the younger generation in our nation building journey. Here I would like to once again reiterate Sarawak’s readiness in working with the PH Government as announced by our Chief Minister in bringing greater benefits for all Sarawakians.
Q10: As we know Petra Jaya is the pride of Sarawak, if not Malaysia! From a backward community that was almost impossible to develop it is now a thriving Malay-Iban community which has the potential to grow even bigger!!!
With the recent GE14 election, do you think the backbone of the Sarawak Malay-Dayak community i.e. PBB, can rise above the challenges and continue to lead Sarawak towards a progressive society?
A: I thank the people of Petra Jaya for giving me this opportunity to serve them over the past 3 parliamentary terms which I am proud to have delivered and brought about change for the betterment of their socio-economic wellbeing in a diverse community. We must rise to the occasion in meeting the challenges of a complex environment which we live in, should be aspire to be a progressive society. Lastly, let me quote Jonathan Lockwood Huie who said “Circumstances don’t defeat us, we defeat our selves when we give up!”