In June the present Agong (ruler of Najib Razak’s home state of Pahang) agreed for a State of Emergency to be called in Sarawak in order that the state election could be suspended. It left GPS in power beyond their constitutional term of office on the grounds that the rising spread of Covid in the state would be made far worse by holding an election. The excuse was to SAVE LIVES.
Under the SOE most of the population, including opposition parties, have been grounded under strict lockdown rules which have caused widespread suffering and deprivation. However, GPS politicians have taken advantage of their continuance in office to conduct rampant electioneering throughout the state disguised as ‘official business’ trips.
Likewise, logging and other crony industries have also continued operations, leaving it as no surprise that during this period of ‘Emergency’ the cases of Covid have in fact risen despite the ‘health crackdowns’ as have the number of deaths.
These included just in the past few days the passing of one of GPS’s native leaders, Deputy Chief Minister James Masing, whose family have barely completed their parting respects before GPS have suddenly U-turned on their own platformed to prepare for a snap election!
How could this be at a time when the danger from Covid is even worse than at the time the SOE was announced on the grounds that an election would increase the number of infections in the state?
Indeed, over just the past fortnight a series of ‘field hospitals’ have been thrown up by the military across the major population areas in response to the growing concern that a rising flood of cases are about to overwhelm existing hospital facilities. And true to those expectations the patient numbers have escalated day by day with a worrying over 90% featuring breakthrough cases amongst people who have received two vaccines but have still succumbed to the disease.
What worse circumstances could there be for holding an election? As the example of Sabah has shown Malaysians to do so will inevitably result in the further spread and loss of Sarawakian lives. With appalling cynicism it would appear that this was why the field hospitals have been constructed! Thanks to GPS’s determination to maximise their election chances (and hang on to power and money) people in Sarawak are being condemned to die alone and suffering in a makeshift tent.
In short, GPS are willing to declare war on their people and see them die to keep power by whatever means they can.
It was for this reason that just last week the Deputy Agong rejected pleas by the GPS Chief Minister together with the power behind him, Governor Taib Mahmud, to hold this snap election. The royal ruler rightly stated that to end a state of emergency brought in to save lives at a time when Covid was worse not better, purely for political convenience, would be unconscionable.
Returning from his lengthy London holiday today however, the Agong himself has overturned that view and granted the ending of the SOE (earlier extended on health grounds till February) so that Abang Jo, Taib and their boys can barnstorm a snap election where the opposition will be unable to campaign, but they can command the state’s entire machinery to push their full advantage.
Why did Najib’s friendly Agong decide to do this? One can only say it comes in a long line of perverse decisions by this king, who cut short his predecessor’s term. They include the appointment as prime ministers not one but two secondary figures from the parties which lost the last election, instead of the leader of the winning coalition with the largest number of supporters.
Announcing his decision the Agong today acknowledged the very health concerns that had caused his fellow royal to reject calling the election. He conceded it would threatened lives according to reports of the announcement:
“His Majesty expressed his concern over the increased risk of Covid-19 spread should a state election be held. In His Majesty’s view, the country is still struggling to face the threat of Covid-19 and the spread of the virus is still at an alarming level.” [Free Malaysia Today]
Nonetheless, the Agong decided to let GPS go ahead anyway after discussing the matter with Abang Jo and his billionaire Governor, Taib Mahmud. This appears to be on the grounds that access to the ‘democratic process’ has become apparently regarded as being more important than before, when ‘health concerns’ dominated:
“His Majesty’s consent to the termination of the proclamation of emergency was a difficult and complicated decision. However, it has been allowed in order to meet the needs of democracy and return power to the people, to make their choices and give their mandate through the formation of a new state government.” [Free Malaysia Today]
The decision is even more shocking given that at this very moment booster vaccines are becoming available and ready to role out in the state, including vaccines like Pfizer which could boost the weak effect of the Sinovac jabs – evidence by the over 90% of patients in Sarawak ICU who qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’. In just a few weeks, in fact at the time the SOE is scheduled to end in February, a state election could be held far more safely.
So, why the sudden hurry? What is the motive behind this reckless and deliberately murderous decision to reverse a state of emergency that was supposed to be saving lives and to hold a sudden snap election?
The answer is no secret in Sarawak and it is as shocking as it is disgraceful, murderous and evil. As everybody knows, GPS are racing to avoid the youth vote harming their support.
The peril of the youth vote became an issue when the agreement that underpinned the appointment of the latest UMNO minority administration forced the condition on the reluctant coup coalition that they must enact the law allowing all those over the age of 18 to vote.
The young voters’ right to join the electoral register comes into force on December 31st according to a court ruling that has not been challenged. Hence the obvious hurry despite the risk to GPS’s more ‘loyal’ older voters.
The GPS fears are well-founded. The change will add some 600,000 new young voters to the state electorate which they have previously controlled and manipulated through gross gerrymandering and bullying of now elderly rural communities over decades of strong arm rule. Impoverished and remote longhouses, cut off from modern communications, have long been cowed into obeying ‘community leaders’ who threaten to deprive them of even the most pathetic state support if they do not vote as told.
Their children feel differently. Their children have learned to read and write and have moved into towns where they can access information on the internet. They understand how previous generations have been robbed by the timber raiders, plantation bosses and resource snatchers under Taib and the GPS parties over the past four decades. They will not vote for GPS, so the GPS plan is not to let them vote.
In order to rush through the election before December and to prevent the youth vote, GPS are therefore prepared to risk the health of their vulnerable, poorly vaccinated voters, some of whom seem bound to suffer and die from Covid caused by electioneering spread.
They are prepared to abandon their own State of Emergency brought in on health grounds at a time when the crisis has got worse not better and even their own friends, political allies and family members (including Abang Jo’s own brother) are falling sick and dying.
Let us watch these politicians as they walk into their mosques and churches to pray for their election success and consider the penance they ought to pay.