DAP losing out on Dayak women votes

By Pushparani Thilaganathan (Free Malaysia-Today)
SIBU: As polling day gets closer, a sense of urgency has gripped the PKR camp over the inroads Barisan Nasional women’s brigade has been making into Dayak women voters.
PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, who arrived here yesterday with a team, said it was among the priority areas in this last-ditch attempt to engage the women and youths.
Nurul Izzah is hoping that being a woman and a youth herself, she will be able to break the ice.
“It’s one of the priority areas… we’re going in to see and talk,” she said.
She expressed surprise when told that PKR was not doing enough compared to BN to woo the Dayak voters.
“It’s not possible to compete with BN’s overwhelming machinery… but our women are also on the ground and we are engaging the women voters,” she said.
Blogger and Dayak activist John Brian Anthnony wrote that the Pakatan Rakyat women’s wing was weak in Sibu and that there was only one “real” woman campaigner – head of Sarawak PKR Women’s Wing, Ibi Uding.
He said in the next few days PKR and DAP needed to find ways to get the Dayak NGOs to help them if they wanted the vote of Dayak women.
As it stands, Anthony said BN is ahead in Dayak women votes.
“Maybe, Idi Uding needs to change her routine of following the men and switch to forming an all- Dayak women campaign team.
“This way, BN’s Senator Empiang Jabu’s gain among Dayak women would be checked,” he said, alluding to the Parti Bersatu Bumiputera (PBB) Wanita chief, who is supported by her deputy chief minister husband Alfred Jabu.
Anthony believes that the Dayak women votes are crucial to the opposition and should not be ignored.

Women are more decisive now

Meanwhile, a tea chat with a local Foochow nurse, who calls herself Sin, revealed that many of the younger women voters were now more decisive than before.
“My cousins and friends know what we need,” she said.
Coming from a family of six, Sin has been in Sibu all her life. Her maternal grandparents were from Kanowit, an hour’s drive from Sibu town and she works in a district some three hours up the Rejang river.
Women make up just over 50% of Sibu’s voting community. Much of their lives are centred around work, school, church, temple and home.
The PKR and DAP approach of engaging the youth and women community through churches and temples is seen as the right strategy.
Said teacher Joseph: “People here are reticent. You don’t know what they are thinking… they are afraid to talk… especially the civil servants.”
“They have been indoctrinated with fear that you owe your loyalty to the ruling government because they pay your salaries. They’ve done this with the tuai (chiefs) in longhouses.
“It’s intimidation… the opposition’s approach to engaging the community through church seminars, chats is seen as casual, clean and honest,” he said.