Eyeing Putrajaya, DAP launches campaign to seize rural Sarawak


DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters today, ‘We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak.’ — Picture by K.E. Ooi

Asked if the DAP expects the campaign to yield results by the next state election in 2015, Lim said the party is now focused on raising awareness and ensuring the success of the project.   

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malay Mail 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — With Putrajaya in mind, the DAP today launched a campaign aimed at capturing rural Sarawak, the last bastion of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rule in a state that helped keep a weakened ruling coalition in power in the last general election.

The campaign, called “Impian Sarawak” (The Sarawak Dream), will be driven by three key thrusts — rural outreach, which will focus on providing basic amenities like water and power to the state’s interiors, study trips and exchange programmes to raise awareness on the dire conditions of Sarawak’s rural natives, and fundraising.

“We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak,” party secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters after the launch of the campaign at the party’s headquarters here.

Sarawak and Sabah helped deliver most of BN’s 133 parliamentary seats and helped keep it in power after the DAP and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) nearly wiped the ruling coalition out in peninsula Malaysia.

Despite this, Sarawak, an oil-producing region with a revenue of more than RM4 billion last year, remains one of country’s least developed states with most of its population living deep in its interior without access to water, power and education.

“Most of the revenue comes from oil, gas, forestry and land sale. These are Sarawak’s natural resources but yet the government has failed its people,” said Chong Chieng Jen, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, one of the many urban seats recaptured by the DAP in the May 5 polls.

Chong said the lack of education opportunities and poverty are among the many obstacles the opposition needs to address and overcome if it is to infiltrate Sarawak’s interiors, as most of the voters there do not have the same exposure to politics as their urban neighbours.

“They are poor and maybe BN wants to keep them poor so that they would remain dependent on the government,” he said.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, PR won 15 seats in the state legislative assembly, with the DAP taking the lion’s share of 13 seats. But virtually all of the seats won were urban. The opposition were annihilated in the interiors.