Sarawak DUN | Source:

On April 16 2011, seven hundred thousand voters in Sarawak cast their votes in the 10th state elections. In a campaign that was described as the “toughest contest the ruling coalition has ever faced in Sarawak“, pundits and analysts describe the campaign as a referendum on the chief minister and his administration of Malaysia’s largest state.

Despite the short 9-day campaign period, the contest was not short of drama – from the palpable mood for change evident in urban centers, the intense personal campaigns by national leaders such as prime minister Najib Tun Razak and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim along with the issues such as chief minister Taib Mahmud’s administration, Malay language bible controversy, sex video scandal and cyber attacks on online news portals – all of which aimed at voters of the 71 constituencies.

The forum will have speakers interact with the audience and provide insight on key questions such as:

  • What do the results mean for Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in the Sarawak and national context?
  • Is there an urban-rural divide in political preferences? What are the implications for contesting parties and national politics?
  • What impact will the results have on key players in the state and parties for the coming general election?
  • How did the issues at play affect voters’ choices and what drove them to their conclusions on election day?

merdeka_center_logoMerdeka Center for Opinion Research is proud to confirm the participation of the following distinguished scholars of Sarawak politics to lead the discussion.


Tuesday, April 26th 2011
Kristal Ballroom 2, Petaling Jaya Hilton


2015 to 2030
Registration and Arrival of Guests

2030 to 2040
Opening Remarks by Merdeka Center

2040 to 2140
Remarks by Moderator Prof James Chin (Monash) and Presentations by:

Dr Neilson Mersat (UNIMAS)
Dr Faizal Syam Hazis (UNIMAS)
Dr Andrew Aeria (UNIMAS)
Dr Wong Chin Huat (Monash)

2140 to 2230
Questions and Comments

2230 to 2235

Closing Remarks

Please confirm your attendance by replying to the following before noon April 25th 2011:
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 03 8210 1488 (Adzha)
SMS: 012 3387806

One reply on “[INVITATION] Merdeka Center Discussion Forum: Sarawak State Elections 2011: Results & Implications”

  1. Is there an urban-rural divide in political preferences? What are the implications for contesting parties and national politics?
    Yes, there is. A very wide one that is likely to persist for the next 15 years at least. For Barisan Nasional, the existing conditions is one they are in no hurry to change.

    For the component parties in Pakatan Rakyat, it is something that will force them to re-think their strategies and to go back to the drawing board with regards to their designs for the rural constituencies. It will require a lot of money and unless Putrajaya falls, Pakatan Rakyat will have to be contented with being the opposition in Sarawak’s DUN for the next 15 years.

    How did the issues at play affect voters’ choices and what drove them to their conclusions on election day?
    The issues raised by the opposition in the urban seats led to the rejection of BN’s candidates.

    In the rural constituencies the opposition, mainly PKR, did managed to raise the level of awareness, enough to see a discernible swing of popular votes in their favor but not enough to bring about the victories which they seek.

    At the end of the day BN won, not because Pakatan Rakyat component parties and their candidates were not wanted by the voting populace but because of a potent brew of BN’s ‘tried, tested and proven to work’election tactics. In their bags of tricks are the financial incentives to ‘performing village chiefs’, to compliant and ‘BN-loyal’ households, to disinterested fence-sitters (to persuade them to abstain from voting lest they decide to vote the opposition)and to their traditional votes bank – the members of the association for ex-armed forces and
    RELA and to members of the civil service, amongst others.

    Threats of withdrawal and rejection of application for aids under the E-Kasih programme, the wang KWAPM, threats of termination of licences and facilities etc etc padlocked the hardcore poor for BN. Opportunists, out to make the fast buck during the campaign period abound and badly needed modes of transport are effectively kept out of the reach of the opposition candidates by BN’s money.

    Communal sentiments, even where it was supposed to be non-issue, were dragged out and played to the hilt by BN.

    Makes one wonder if Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan ever reach BN Sarawak candidates.

    All in all the poverty that characterize the majority of Sarawak’s rural communities was the key that gave BN their wins in the rural constituencies. Efforts by Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate to appeal to the conscience of the rural voters failed to overcome the pain of poverty. The temporary relief brought by BN’s election tit-bits (goodies is too good a word to describe the hand-outs) was better than Pakatan Rakyat’s promise for a better future.

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