As the dust settles on the 10th Sarawak State Election on April 16, election promises in Sarawak seem to have some impact on neighbouring Sabah.
Sabah will get to enjoy the betterment of the Pan Borneo Highway from Miri to Kota Kinabalu soon as a result of a new promise by the Federal Ministry of Works during the 10th Sarawak State Election.
When completed, the number of Sarawakians seeking specialist medical treatment in Sabah’s Queen Elizabeth Hospitalin Kota Kinabalu is expected to drop.
These medical tourists from Sarawak were supposed to have benefitted from the expertise and specialists of the Sipitang Hospital that Ghafar Baba promised Sabah in the past.
Sarawak brain drain
Some Sarawakians find it easier to do business or find employment in Sabah. Many have settled down in Sabah and owned their own properties.
Sabah has benefitted from some of the brain drain from Sarawak.
In fact, Kota Kinabalu has a Sadong Jaya enclave in Karamunsing like the name of one of Sarawak’s State Assembly constituencies. It was a real estate property development project by a Sarawakian company during the 1980’s.
In a way, Sabah has benefitted from the influx of Sarawakian talents, businesses, funds and know-how to become what was reportedly the second hottest property spot in Malaysia and going on to be the second largest city in Malaysia, partly thanks to Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Sarawakians in Sabah are serious players and workers in the eatery, hotel, tourism, construction, timber, hardware supplies, steel industry, educational establishments, printing, media and as property developers.
According to some Sarawakians in Sabah, the unpopularity of the Sarawak Chief Minister among Sarawak urban voters was also because he has become a lightning rod for the establishment’s high property charges from land renewal premiums to assessments in the past.
Another claims is he was made out to be a wealthy property owner with many business properties all over the world from exploiting the state with monopolistic control of ‘development’ in Sarawak with his family. Meanwhile, his associated family company dominates supplies of cement for the building of roads, bridges, buildings and dams.
Chinese voter’s turn to punish
Despite Chinese representation in government being one of the campaign slogans for the Sarawak BN during its campaign in the recent Sarawak campaign, the anti-establishment voting bloc vented their anger as property owners and families affected paying high land renewal premium for their 60 years land leases.
Prior to the polls, the establishment dropped the exorbitant rates but those who had renewed earlier were refused a refund of their overpayment based on the new rates.
This was perceived not only to be unfair but discriminatory by many.
All these perceptions swelled up to a crescendo of disdainful indignation to end the tenure of the public face of oppressive state charges on property owners.
There will be only two Chinese BN representatives in the State Legislative Assembly following the SUPP’s landmark loss 13 of the 19 seats contested, all of which in Chinese-majority seats, many voters couldn’t care less because with strong representation in the State government, they were also hit with high property ownership costs.
Their former SUPP government representatives were deemed too slow to put across their views and concerns and they were seen to be cocooned living in their own comfort zone disconnected from the masses.
Whatever way others may want to spin the other factors for the outcome, the results also show that the majority of the urban voters expressed their unhappiness with the establishment.
The predominantly rural and postal voters backing the establishment were mostly the non-taxpaying public with little leasehold properties due for renewal and those who hardly pay quit rent, income tax, stamp duty, real property gain tax etc. that do not affect rural native or NCR property.
Out of the 960,952 registered voters in Sarawak, only about 70 percent or 672,667 voted. Some 288,285 or 30 percent did not vote.
These people were among those working outside the state that a non-beholden Dayak leader likened to be ‘thinking voters’ but were not eligible to take part in the polls as postal voters.
Some 372,379 or 39 percent including the contentious amount of postal votes went to the BN including the 1,000 postal votes that the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) got to win in Senadin by 58 votes.
The popular majority for BN fell from 62.93 percent previously to 55.24 percent.
BN took 55 seats, DAP 12, PKR 3 and Independent candidate George Lagong won.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat got some 261,666 or 27 percent of the votes while SNAP got 15,663 or 1.6 percent of the votes and the Independent candidates collected 20,064 or 2.1 percent of the votes.
BN only enjoys less than 11 percent more of the popular votes.
All 26 SNAP candidates except Toh Heng San who contested the Katibas seat lost their deposit in the Sarawak polls.
They were among 71 candidates, including 36 independents, who lost their RM5,000 deposit, which brought the total amount to RM355,000 which may go to the betterment of the Pan Borneo Highway with other taxpayers’ fund.
This election saw unprecedented cyber attacks against on-line media sites featuring Sarawak issues that also affected Komunitikini.