Sarawakians stand to win in battle royal

APRIL 26 ― The inability of DAP and PKR to shake hands on who contests where should be a game-changer as Sarawakians in six state constituencies now sit behind the chessboard and are not mere pawns.

What many have labelled as a loss for opposition pact Pakatan Harapan, I see as a victory for the people even before polling has begun.

How candidates in these constituencies fare on May 7 will also signal if a repeat is possible in the 14th General Elections.

In fact, the overflowing of this mantra ― multi-cornered bouts ― from Sarawak into Peninsula Malaysia in time for the next General Elections will allow all Malaysians to partake in this reversal of roles from prey to predator.

We could be witnessing the revival of democracy across the ocean, where “demos” (people) comes before “kratos” (power) as opposed to the usual practise of democracy here and in other countries.

Now, the people in Batu Kitang, Mambong, Simanggang, Ngemah, Murum and Mulu state constituencies can truly decide on what each candidate has to offer before crossing the ballot paper in two weeks.

A few things will change.

First, the candidates contesting in the above seats cannot adopt the “Government is bad” or “Opposition is worse” rhetoric in the run-up to May 7.

Instead, they will now be compelled to shift to a different discourse and communicate to their voters on why they should be elected, not why their opponent should not be given a shot.

Next, this will pave the way for a more positive message from all in the ring and eliminate messages of personal vilification and below-the-belt politics. The people deserve more.

Valuable time can then be spent on issues which matter to Sarawakians most, be it their housing, lack of social mobility and even essential services including the basics of water and electricity.

In the grander scheme of things, voters here stand to get the biggest bang for their vote as those standing for office will focus on policies, not personalities.

While some may decry such a view as focusing on small victories ― six constituencies involving multi-cornered battles within Pakatan Harapan ― and missing the bigger picture which in this case is 82 seats with Barisan Nasional favourites in many, progression in politics has to start somewhere.

In a one vs one battle, candidates sometimes cannot hold themselves back from resorting to underhanded tactics during the campaign period.

We might even witness this in the coming days in some of the messaging from candidates in Sarawak.

But not in these six constituencies.

In fact, parties within Pakatan Harapan should look on the brighter side of this rather than feel shortchanged.

They could instead lay down the gauntlet to their opponents and invite parties within Barisan Nasional ― including MCA, Gerakan and MIC ― to partake in this political progression in the 14th General Elections, if the smaller players in the ruling government are up to it.

In some cases of political buffoonery, there exists a silver lining.

#Sarawak2016 is one such instance.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.