Pakatan needs to do more to win next Sarawak election, says human rights activist

Sulok Tawie
Jaban said the photograph of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) and Tun Taib Mahmud seems to suggest that Pakatan, if it wins in the coming state election, intends to maintain the status quo in Sarawak. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Sept 10 — Human rights activist Peter Johan Jaban today urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to do more than just to offer Sarawakians promise of a cleaner and more responsible government if it aspires to win the next state election.

Jaban, who is also the Solidariti Anak Sarawak (SAS) leader, said PH has to show that it intends to carry out a vigorous campaign against corruption and abuse of power.

He said Sarawakians have expressed concerns over a photograph of PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim standing next to Sarawak Governor Tun Taib Mahmud in a recent courtesy call, which is being circulated on social media.

“This photograph seems to suggest that PH, if it wins in the coming state election, intends to maintain the status quo in Sarawak,” he said, adding that there is no incentive for Sarawakians to switch sides at the state level.

Jaban said there are on-going calls for investigations into Taib’s vast wealth and that he is subject to multiple allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

He said Sarawakians are aware of the effects of corruption within their home state and at the federal level and this was one of the reasons why PH was able to win so many unexpected seats in the 14th general election in Peninsular Malaysia, and even in rural areas where campaigning was scarce.

“PH, being a Peninsula-based coalition and the current federal government, therefore, will not find it so easy to penetrate a state in which the return of our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 remain the primary issue in a state election,” he said.

He said the state ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has picked up on the ideas of autonomy and restitution under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as vote winners with some speed.

“Oil revenues will be a decisive issue during the next state election. But to see Anwar standing next to the very man who oversaw the passing of the Petroleum Development Act 1974, under which Sarawak was stripped of control over its own natural resources, puts PH in a very difficult position,” he said.

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