Saturday, April 09, 2011

Scenes: Sarikei State Election 2011 - Beyond the poster war

Sarikei State Election 2011
Repok Road poster war

The Sarawak state election on 16th April 2011 is one of the most important state elections in decades. It is a barometer of voter sentiment in Sarawak and the outcome may decide whether the ruling coalition will call for a snap 2011 general election in Malaysia (which is not due until April 2013).

Why? After the results of the stunning 2008 general election results in Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah have become the king makers of Malaysia (i.e. the results in Borneo can decide who forms the majority in the parliament). Sarawak and Sabah have 56 out of 222 seats in parliament, with Sarawak’s share at 31.

Sarikei State Election 2011
Rejang Wharf poster war
 Source: Lu Huong Chin

In the Repok seat (N39), BN/SUPP is represented by its incumbent, Datuk David Teng Lung Chi. His banner says "Secure Sarikei's next 5 years; Expedite development".

Are you glad with the progress of Sarikei versus other towns in Sarawak and Malaysia? Sarawak is one of the richest states in Malaysia in terms of natural resources. Does the progress of Sarawak versus other states commensurate with Sarawak's contribution? Let your vote decide.

 Sarikei State Election 2011
Repok Road poster war
 Source: Lu Huong Chin

In the other corner, PR/DAP's representative is Dr Wong Hua Seh. Its slogan of "Ubah" ("Change") urges denizens to vote for a change of government for a better future. In the 2008 general election, Dr Wong Hua Seh lost by a slim margin of 51 votes.

This election, a straight fight between 2 parties, will be very close. The newer generation of voters are internet savvy and read online political news other than the mainstream newspapers.They can influence their less informed elderly folks on the votes. If they are working in a different town or country, it's only a mobile phone call away.

What are the top issues that Sarikeians care about to make an informed decision on the vote? Below is not an exhaustive list but is a constant list of issues for as long as you can recall. You can google the rest of the Sarawak issues that are beyond the scope of this article.

Sarikei's ageing population 
Merdeka Park 2010

 Sarikei's ageing population.
Bank Road 2010

1. Jobs - Lack of jobs for skilled labour and professionals.
After secondary school studies and tertiary education (whether local or overseas), Sarikei denizens flocked to other towns and countries to make a living. Sarikei is now made up of ageing folks and younger students. There's a middle gap void of adults. Sarikei needs to move up the value chain of other industries beyond agriculture.

Will Sarikei be an old folks town?

 Sarikei's Hospital

2. Healthcare - Enough expertise?
The new hospital at Kampung Seberang was opened in 2006 at a reported estimate of MYR$250.4M. We have the hardware but is there enough software? We can not attract and retain our Sarikeian doctors and specialists who are now serving other towns and countries. When there are more critical illnesses or emergency cases, denizens have to go to Kuching, KL and Singapore for services.

On 2nd April 2011, two specialists from West Malaysia were announced for Sarikei, Dr Lim Wooi Kok (Pediatrics) and his wife, Dr Tan Tze Ling (Obstetrics and Gynecology). Will this announcement last week convince voters that there is enough done now and in the past 5 years?

 Sarikei State Election 2011.
DAP banner: "Where is the TAR college and the Tanjung Manis highway?"

3. Tanjung Manis - Will the future be sweet?
The growth of Tanjung Manis is slipping away from Sarikei's future - Firstly, we lost Tanjung Manis to another division when it's just 1/2 hour away by boat. Secondly, Sibu secured ~MYR$435M budget in 2006 under the 9th Malaysian Plan for a mega project to connect to Tanjung Manis (highway and 7 bridges) and construction is expected to be completed in a few months.

On 3rd April 2011, MYR$0.5M was announced for a ferry ramp behind the Sarikei hospital to connect to Bukit Huang (to be completed by Nov 2011). No specific budget was mentioned for the road or highway to Tanjung Manis.

 Sarikei State Election 2011.
Bukit Huang on the opposite side of Rejang River
Viewed from behind Sarikei General Hospital
 Source: Lu Huong Chin

Announcement of projects just before an election is a double sided coin. How will voters react to the timing of the announcement of the 2 medical specialists and the ferry ramp to Bukit Huang? Which party will miss the boat this time?


To find out your voting station, key in your Malaysian IC# without the "space" character and click "semak". If your record is not shown, you need to bring your IC to register at the post office for future elections. Click here or

*** This is not a website on politics. This blog is not affiliated to any political party. Comments have been disabled. Let your vote do the talking on 16th April 2011. ***

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