The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) views with grave concern the not-so-subtle attempt to threaten Sarawakians into voting for the incumbent political coalition led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri. When the Prime Minister openly declared that the Second Sungai Yong Bridge project would not have been carried out if there had been a change in government and when he said that “Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Jo is my friend. As such, I hope the people would not make the wrong decision, for many more which need to be approved may not be implemented if the state administration is different from the central government”. (1) This is a threat to Sarawakians that they will be penalised if they do not toe the line when it comes to casting their vote.
This threat is also not just a violation of his slogan of Keluarga Malaysia as Opposition-led states may be treated as stepchildren. It also raises questions of administrative neutrality of the Federal Government and the caretaker Sarawak State Government, whether federal and state resources may be kept from partisan abuse. There have already been reports of such abuse by the state caretaker government and statements like this further reinforce the lack of neutrality.
BERSIH firmly believes that ANY informed choice by Sarawak voters, resulting in any kind of legislative majority for any coalition/party in government, is the RIGHT choice. It is dishonourable and biased for the Prime Minister to play favourites. Malaysia is a Federation and the Federal Government must treat all state governments fairly and equally, regardless of their party affiliation.
If Sarawak voters are being pressured to vote in a way that suits the political taste of the Federal Government, then it shows that Sarawak has not achieved real independence through Malaysia, as promised in the spirit of MA63. Furthermore, if the decisions by Sarawak voters are not respected by the Federal Government, then as per their democratic right, Sarawakian voters can express their disapproval in the upcoming Federal Election.
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH