For months the people of Sarawak have had to endure a brutal lockdown. Many remote communities were stranded to the point of starvation in the face of seeming unwillingness on the part of the state government to recognise that they were short of basic foodstuffs, let alone other vital support and supplies.
This at the hands of a government whose Deputy Chief Minister had earlier cited a massive ‘war chest’ of RM31 billion of reserves in the public coffers that he wanted spent on what he euphemistically called ‘projects’ as he feared a GPS loss of power at this state election (that was before the coup).
But what better purpose could that budget surplus have in fact been put to use to over the past few months than alleviating such people’s suffering? Yet these poor communities have instead in many cases lived off food baskets passed to them by over-stretched civil society and opposition volunteers, whilst the well-heeled and government funded GPS representatives attended to their own followers.
Now is plain (and entirely consistent with their very long and shameful record) that what GPS actually have in mind for much of the available public cash is to bulldoze the election against the virtually penniless opposition in their time honoured fashion – in order to retain overwhelming power at the coming state election and continue to make themselves even more super-rich from the public purse.
Just take a look at their state budget pushed through the DUN last week – a budget stuffed with one-off allegedly ‘Covid related’ grants and bonus’s to government workers, project promises and even home deposit payments to butter up target voters just before the polls.
Was GPS thinking of the benefits of dashing to the polls straight after such announcements given the months of hardship? Of course they were.
These selfish election-focused deliberations at the expense of Sarawak’s pandemic battered communities immediately escalated over the past days into a full-scale plot to mug an election victory employing such a shocking and blatant shamelessness that one can only gasp.
Just as Covid figures have started to escalate in the state GPS have moved to maximise their best moment for electoral advantages at a time when going to the polls would obviously endanger the most possible people in Sarawak, a good many of whom could expect to die unnecessarily as a sacrifice to GPS ambition.
Thankfully, the despicable nature of the latest manoeuvrings have proven so vicious and intolerable that more decent and scrupulous senior figures in the royal circle have apparently intervened to put a stop to them for now.
Over just the past hours it emerged that the almost unbelievable was true – that GPS were rapidly pushing plans with the clear support of their UMNO federal allies to persuade the Agong to suddenly reverse the ‘Covid State of Emergency’ that they themselves had urged him to pass in August on the specific grounds that it would be dangerous to hold an election in the pandemic.
In August the figures were lower than they are now, but the outlook for GPS was less rosy that now right after their targeted budget.
The well connected Star newspaper and others reported that GPS would make a direct petition to the Palace in an online meeting set up between the Agong and Abang Jo with a view to obtaining permission to strike out the State of Emergency and dissolve the DUN.
Setting momentum for the narrative established GPS cheerleaders started putting it about in the press that people should consider the election imminent. The stalwart toady Karim Hamza went on the record causing a wave of publicity:
Speculations have intensified that the state election is just around the corner… PBB vice-president Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said .. “For me, if that is what members of the press are feeling (that the state election is near), I am also feeling the same thing. We are feeling the heat.
“Melaka is also holding its snap state election next month, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarawak follows suit. We wait tomorrow or the day after. The state legislature may be dissolved within these one or two days,” he said.
Within hours it was likewise being reported that preparations were underway for the newly appointed [Najib puppet] prime minister, Ismail Sabri, to jump on a plane on Saturday to meet Chief Minister Abang Jo in Kuching to seal the deal and launch the blitzkrieg Covid Election Campaign with all fingers pointing to a poll on November 27th.
After all, politically for GPS there could be no more optimum moment (inevitable disease and death of the people they were entrusted to protect to one side) and it is not just the budget that had got them all excited.
The moment the Malacca state government fell a fortnight ago and moves got underway in that state to hold its own election (in the face of an attempted injunction by the opposition parties who have pointed out the dangers there as well) it is plain that GPS saw their opportunity to rush through a parallel campaign in Sarawak aided by the distraction on the mainland. The opposition parties’ limited resources and those of civl society would be already fully stretched leaving no one to counter or even monitor GPS’s heavily funded flash campaign.
The added plus? The planned November timing would just manage to beat the dreaded youth vote coming into play, because the legislation which this government has perniciously sought to delay but now negotiated in return for cooperation over its bloated budget plans, comes into effect at the end of this December.
It is well known how the dirty old men of GPS/UMNO and PN who have for decades cheated and deprived their parents of their rights, their wealth and lands have every reason to fear the rising generation of more educated, informed and urban voters.
One could almost hear the cogs in the collective GPS brain churn as they therefore sprang to seize there chance in a manner that was as laughably unsubtle as it was cynical and uncaring.
As the plans were being forged to petition the Agong information came that instructions were also fanning out to close down the quarantine centres where for months people have been herded as part of the Covid crackdown that until last week was used to justify the ‘State of Emergency’ – until it suddenly ceased to be convenient to GPS. The authorities explained they must be rapidly converted to use as polling centres instead!
Likewise the Election Commission has sent out a memo to Town Halls and public spaces to ask for volunteers for the Election. There is no secret about what they are up to.
And yet right up till this very moment harsh SOP decrees enacted by the self-same state leadership have kept ordinary folk and opposition campaigners firmly locked within their home areas and unable to spread their messages, while GPS MPs have been freely abusing the ’emergency extension’ of office beyond the constitutionally appointed limit to helicopter around the country visiting communities (under the guise of official business) to personally distribute what publicly funded assistance has been available, as if it was the product of their own generosity.
The disgraceful practice of stamping the names and photographs of relevant government MPs on state funded food parcels and bags of rice has of course been part and parcel of the process.
Inevitably and in keeping with the latest disgraceful developments, this effective pre-electioneering has been documented as having spread Covid into many of the communities the GPS entourages broke their own rules by visiting.
The fact that over the past several months Covid cases in Sarawak have been markedly high compared to most other states should therefore be of no surprise, despite the isolated and sparse communities that ought to have been easier to keep from such infection.
As was the case with the national ‘Covid SOE’, far from bringing the pandemic under control, the past months have recorded rising Covid figures in the state under Sarawak’s local emergency. Presently, all signs are pointing towards a new peak in coming days and weeks in one of the most tragically affected parts of Malaysia which is the country that is presently performing worst in the pandemic in all of Asia in the number of deaths per capita.
So, how possibly could this government have even contemplated seeking to end their own emergency and engineer a deadly state election at such a juncture? Just because it benefits GPS politically!
The question is compounded by another glaring failure to protect their own people that a caring government should seek to rectify before even considering holding this election, namely the failure of Sarawak’s vaccine rollout. In short the breakthrough rates of Covid in the state have been appalling.
One undoubted reason for the devastating recent revelations that over 90% of patients now in ICU in Sarawak are registered as “fully vaccinated” was the predictable decision to shunt a large chunk of the Malaysia’s suspect supply of the less effective Sinovac vaccine (Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had attempted to halt the roll out only to be over-ruled by vested interests) to the native communities in state.
The globally uncompetitive Sinovac mysteriously cost Malaysia almost as much as considerably more effective top brands owing to a contract with a government linked company that involved local processing of bulk deliveries of the drug that has been beset with failures.
It is notable that favoured groups (like politicians and government officers) and deserving front liners received the other drugs, but most of those from the Dayak communities in Sarawak received Sinovac. The situation is well-known and to hold an election before the population has received at least one booster from a better drug (as now being urgently recommended by the more responsible authorities) is wilful murder.
As the GPS leadership prepared to make their audience with the King on Thursday Sarawak’s opposition PKR party, led by Dr Michael Two MP made its own appalled plea to the palace to decline the request to save lives. How, asks Teo, could a state government that knows full well that infections, hospitalisations and deaths are rocketing beyond the capacity of present medical facilities call an election?
What the opposition are desperately pointing out is that just at the very moment GPS are seeking for political reasons to end the State of Emergency a genuine emergency is taking hold.
In a stunning series of announcement over just the past few days the state government has sought to spin some kind of virtue about the rapid throwing up with the help of military of a string of so-called field hospitals.
Usually resorted to in times of war ‘field hospitals’ are another word for treatment tents to house patients when proper medical facilities become flooded with far too many casualties.
Is this because GPS have horrifyingly calculated their electioneering will escalate the toll of Covid to the extent hospitals can no longer cope? This is a justified assumption given the clear evidence that the previous equally selfish snap election caused by the backdoor coup-mongers last year in Sabah.
Or is it simply that the authorities have calculated that with or without an election Sarawak is running out of space to treat its patients?
In either case how can calling an election at this time find the slightest moral justification? To the contrary it would be a monstrous act of murder.
Thankfully, this grim reality was plainly understood by the palace if not the boys from Petra Jaya (it is understood the Deputy Agong put his foot down on the plea and won the day). Abang Jo was sent packing with his plea on Thursday and was soon announcing that he had never had the slightest plan to raise the matter with the Agong in the first place!
How strange that he hadn’t thought to make the statement earlier and rein back the open speculation in advance. It is understood and a given that the visit on Saturday from the Prime Minister is likewise cancelled…. or rather was never planned.
Sarawakians must now consider what this episode has taught them about their kindly leaders. Specifically, what possible excuse can their entrusted ministers provide for seeking to abandon a emergency that they themselves imposed for several months just at this deadly moment when those ministers themselves plainly expect Covid to get worse not better and must realise will inevitably spike even further with electioneering?
The only word to describe such self-serving political opportunism by leaders at the expense of their own people is evil. The only question is anyone surprised?