‘Strong Sarawak voice needed in Parliament’

KUCHING: As Malaysia goes to the polls today, voters in Sarawak see the 15th General Election as an important opportunity to strengthen Sarawakian representation in Parliament and uphold the state’s rights.

Student Ivan Alexander Ong said a stronger voice in the Dewan Rakyat was needed to highlight the state’s progressive, inclusive and modern policies under the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) administration.

“It’s important to vote for a voice that champions Sarawak’s message of political stability, effective governance, cultural diversity, religious unity, sustainable electrification and inclusive education, that does not ‘pilih bulu’ (show favouritism) based on race, religion or social background.

“GPS reflects all these qualities,” he said.

On a personal note, Ong said it was crucial to exercise his right to vote, as he was one of five Sarawakian youths who took the Federal Government to court last year over the delayed implementation of Undi18.

The High Court here ruled in their favour, ordering the government to implement the lowering of the voting age to 18 years by Dec 31, 2021, at the latest.

“This was rightly a decision for democracy. So yes, it is very important that I go out and vote, not only to ensure democratic values still stand but also for a stronger voice for Sarawak in Parliament,” he said.

For Siswa Balik co-founder Luqman Al-Hakim, what is at stake is whether the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) will be fully honoured.

“The people of Sarawak need to regain their dignity as an equal partner in the Federation of Malaysia.

“Sarawakian interests have been sidelined for too long and they demand progressive policies to be enacted in their land,” he said.

Luqman said Sarawakians were suspicious of racial and religious politics and could not afford to let the peninsula’s petty squabbles destroy their unity.

“They want a political party that can represent their voice. If the winning party this time cannot deliver, soon the people of Sarawak will lose whatever interest they have,” he said.

NGO volunteer Alexandra John expressed concerns over the lack of women and young people in Malaysian politics, as well as the use of race and religion in election campaigning.

“Voting out of fear is not a good vibe,” she said.

As a Sarawakian voter, she added, it was also difficult to select from the limited choice of prime minister candidates, none of whom she could relate to.

“But this can mean that whoever wins, citizens must continue to scrutinise them because we should not continue to accept leadership that is based on identity politics,” she said.