Saturday, December 3

Malaysia must change, even if Sarawak remains status quo

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AS all electioneering political campaigns were legally bound to have ceased by midnight last night, I must state at the very outset that my column this week is just an opinion piece with my own personal views and analysis of the current political scenario, and should not be read nor taken as an endorsement for any one single candidate or any political party.

The views reflect my personal take after observing at close range the many political turmoils, ups and downs, failures and successes, especially of those close to me and my family.

To start with, my uncle – the eldest brother of my father – was the late Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui, who had together with others like Tan Sri Stephen KT Yong, Chan Siaw Hee, Song Thian Cheok, Barbara Bay, Tan Sri Sim Kheng Hong and a few others in 1959 (when I was just 9 years old) formed Sarawak’s very first political party – the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

The party started off as a multi-racial political force that had almost formed the very first state government in an alliance with a couple of other parties, as even at that time it was extremely difficult for one single party to garner enough votes for a one-party government without forming alliances with others.

That trend has continued to this very day.

Many years in the opposition benches, today SUPP is part of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government together with Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). At federal level, they have been supportive (or were part of the alliance) of the federal government since the formation of Malaysia in 1963 (although formerly known asBarisan National, the BN).

In the early days when my uncle was the president of SUPP, from 1959 till 1982, I was a big supporter of the party’s policies and philosophy, although I had never become a party member nor had sought to be one.

In 1984 after Tan Sri Stephen Yong took over as its president, I was formally invited to join but I had declined as I was busy pursuing a career with Inchcape Berhad at the time.

In 1997 when Datuk Song Swee Guan, a close personal friend, had been appointed the Speaker of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, I had sounded out to him about joining the party; he had discouraged me, saying that the Mandarin-speaking faction within the party was at the time very strong and there was little chance that any new member not well versed in that medium could actually contribute or even survive.

The party was plagued by cliques and clannishness for many years.

I was witness to the decimalisation of the party (there were many conspiracy theories, speculations and half-truths being sprouted) after Tan Sri Wong Soon Kai passed on the baton to Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Tan Sri Peter Chin, leading to the further break-up between the Sibu and Kuching factions; eventually leading to Dato Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian becoming president in 2014.

I am pleased to say that I see hope and a bright future again for SUPP with Dr Sim at the helm and he has done wonders in that brief period of time by turning around a party, which almost everyone had already given up on.

Within the constraints of being part of GPS and having to ‘toe the line’ insofar as many group policies and dictates are concerned, Dr Sim is not afraid to speak up and be heard, and with his increasing numbers at the State Assembly,the party itself is finally finding some real clout within the alliance.

I have also observed that the ‘big brother’ party PBB ever since the late ‘Tok Nan’ (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) and present Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg have been more inclusive and supportive of its partners within GPS.

Having said all that and knowing that the next Sarawak state election will not be due till 2026, it is fair to say that the current political situation within the state is stable and peaceful and without any major scandals or disasters.

We have a very benevolent leadership in Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari and his state cabinet and there is a real sharing of power and a very tolerant culture of sharing and mutually beneficial multiracial cohesion.

Malaysia, as a nation, is sadly the exact opposite.

A change is badly needed. We have been ruled by the same group of Umno politicians since independence, and except for a brief 22 months in 2018/2019, the nation has been troubled by racial strife, inequality, religious animosity, blatant corruption and misgovernance of the highest order.

We must change in order to survive the expected troubled times ahead.

Every decent Malaysian who is going to cast his or her precious vote today need only ask of themselves these three simple questions before they mark their ballot papers:

  • Is the present federal government doing a good job?
  • Can I fully trust the MP whom I am going to vote for?
  • Will my one single vote make any difference at all to the overall outcome?

If you are truthful to yourself and if you answer according to your conscience, you know which candidate you should support.

Oh yes – YOUR VOTE COUNTS! Please go out and vote.

I pray for wisdom, peace of mind, and that comes the morrow we will see a bright new dawn for us all in Malaysia!

May God Bless Malaysia. May God Bless Us All.