The concluded Sarawak state election might be frustrating to many but to Borneans, it’s nothing much of a surprise.
Out of 71 seats contested, 55 won by Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Rakyat picked up 15 and one more snatched by an Independent candidate.
There are definitely a lot of things to learn judging from the outcome of the polling.
The outcome of the urban seats is very much as anticipated, after witnessing the major swing of Chinese voters in Sibu by-election. However it fell little bit short with SUPP retaining the much controversial Senadin and Bawang Assan seat.
The Chinese voters’ sentiment has not changed a bit since 2008. They are becoming very open and brave off late with their anti-Barisan Nasional sentiment with crowd surging exceeding rock concert turn outs and individuals campaigning without any vested interest.
One thing to note is PKR candidate fared much better than SNAP in the rural areas. Even though, it’s not enough to win them the seat but it’s definitely a good sign for PKR as rural folks has begun to embrace them.
Generally, the Borneans are very much timid and doesn’t give any tell tale signs at all even after they have voted. Any campaigner will tell you that they were accepted with arms wide open while visiting long houses. Never should it be mistaken as a sign of support. It’s simply the nature of the rural folks.
Conveying message in Sarawak or Borneo in general plays a big role. Huge gathering or rallies doesn’t work in rural areas, be it Ibans, Bidayuh or Orang Ulu. Most of the time, the message is conveyed through whispering and sometimes through gentle nudge.
They prefer to be discreet about their support and always influenced by the majority. If bulk of the long house residents decides to vote for a particular party, everyone will follow suit. Furthermore, the rural folks are very much look up to their headman for direction.
The Iban and Orang Ulu youths have departed from the norm with them campaigning openly for opposition and tuning to Radio Free Sarawak. However their voice is still not enough to drown out the elders. This is where Pakatan should be working on now until the next general election. The growing disenchantment and lack opportunities can be turned into votes.
Convincing the elders will take time and it would be effective, if it’s done through their own family. This is where the whisper and gentle nudge will play a big role to create a snowball for Pakatan.
The prospect of Pakatan winning more seats in up coming general election is brighter than ever looking at the voting trend in rural area. However, more ground work needs to be done in order to make more rural folks to whisper and gently nudging others to vote for Pakatan.