Sarawak DAP has made a plea to voters to support the party in the coming state election to strengthen the opposition's representation.
"I have made it clear that the state election is not about changing the government. Adenan Satem will continue to be the chief minister without any doubt," Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen said.
Indeed, it was reported that Adenan's approval rate has climbed to 85.5 percent, according to a survey headed by Associate Prof Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
"But, don't you want a stronger opposition? (We) do not want to return to the era of former chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who ignored the voices from the ground," said Chong.
In an interview with Malaysiakini and KiniTV last Wednesday, Chong explained why voters should continue to reject BN.
He pointed out that various promises, particularly related to autonomy issues, were still unfulfilled and Sarawak had been marginalised for years.
In his visit to Sarawak last Sunday, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who relies much on the support of the Borneo state voters to maintain power, urged the people to give Adenan a strong mandate to give him the strength to negotiate with the federal government for help in developing the state.
Giving victory to the state BN, Najib said, would ensure that the state and federal governments were on the same page to ensure rapid development would continue there.
Chong, however, reminded the BN leaders that the erosion of rights in Sarawak was caused by the BN political conglomerate, whose state allies had agreed to accept five percent oil royalty. They also gave up on English education.
"If BN is sincere, then it should surrender its autonomy on education, health, finance and other internal affairs to us," he added. "We want autonomy. We want checks and balances."
"Yes, we do have administrative power in land matters and logging licences, for example. But, we do not have checks and balances.
"We have seen the monopoly of six major logging companies, which were given licences that cover 9.2 million acres of forest or one-third of Sarawak land. We have seen prime land in Kuching town given to BN cronies and the companies of Taib's family at low prices," he alleged.
This happened even after Adenan took office on Feb 28, 2014, he said.
"BN will only look at the people's demands seriously when it is under pressure," he said.
Getting rid of race-based tag
Sarawak DAP had obtained its best results in the 2011 state election taking 12 state seats - all Chinese majority - after its establishment in 1978. Only two out 15 seats it contested then were of Dayak majority.
It’s notable that DAP wants to get rid of the Chinese-based party label in the Peninsula and Borneo states.
"Sixty percent of our members are Dayak – we have a few thousand," said Chong, adding that Sarawak DAP plans to contest 35 to 40 seats in the coming state polls, expected next month.
This means that DAP will contest 22 to 27 Dayak seats.
In the last state polls, DAP only enjoyed an average 30 to 40 percent of Dayak support in the seats they won.
Kidurung state assemblyperson Chew Chiu Sing, who speaks fluent Iban and had lost six times in elections, had managed to win more than 45 percent of the Dayak vote in the 2011 state polls.
Chong is confident that the party has made some progress in Dayak- majority seats as the DAP's brainchild ‘Impian Sarawak’, a programme that brings development to the rural community, has borne fruit.
"The Dayak community is aware of the programme," said Chong, adding that the party was confident of taking more than 12 seats.
Meanwhile, the two-term Kota Sentosa assemblyperson said he may contest in Batu Kitang, a new seat under the Stampin parliamentary constituency, created after the redelineation exercise.
"It depends, I may contest there if needed," he said.