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Realistic challenge for candidates

Realistic challenge for candidates

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In an area in Sarawak, there are 15 promises made by a candidate in the past state election which have yet to be fulfilled. Although he won, but with his name in the list of candidates for the Sarawak’s 10th state election, he is bound to face his voters again.

Not wanting to name the party he is from, Sarawak’s political analyst, Dr Jeniri Amir told Utusan Malaysia yesterday that the first thing which the candidates should bear in mind is not to make promises.

Having just completed his one and half month road show in Sarawak for a socio-political research, he said the information and data obtained found that most of the elected representatives had yet to fulfill promises made during the 2006 state election. This angered the voters.

Dr. Jeniri, who has vast experience on the political antics of the Land of the Hornbills reckoned that what should by done by all Barisan Nasional candidates whose names were announced at the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Jalan Bako, Kuching, yesterday, was to make realistic promises to voters in their constituencies. The names of 70 out of 71 BN candidates were announced yesterday, while the candidate for the Ba’Kelalan state seat will be announced this Wednesday following a speculation that Sarawak PKR chairman, Baru Bian, is disappointed with the party leadership.

“In our obsession to win the voters’ hearts, let’s not say okay…okay…okay to everything that is demanded by our voters.

“Not to an extent of candidates making promises which are not realistic because they are going to suffer for the next five years. Be brave to say no if it cannot be met. I think the people will understand if it is something which cannot be done,” he said.

Therefore, soon after the names of the BN candidates were announced yesterday, the first thing which should be done by the party machinery was to explain to the people why persons concerned were selected. They should be mobilized to every corners of the state to meet the voters. The reason being that some of them are new faces.

It is also rumoured that DAP would field young, capable and professional, as done by BN which is fielding doctors and engineers, but not Sarawak National Party (SNAP) which is said would field “old” and recycled” candidates.

Dr Jeniri focuses on the importance of body language, for the candidates to be courteous and polite to win the hearts of the voters. Such an image can create various perception.

“In politics, such a perception is more important than reality. The individuals concerned should portray a positive image, to meet the voters who will choose those who are close with them. All these depend on the creativity of political communication which is appropriate and effective,” he said.

However in this aspect, he believed the Sarawak people would choose the candidates and parties that were capable of bringing development and modernization, as well as able to accommodate the voters’ needs.

“Not just the candidates who are good at making promises and criticisms,” he said.

Taking candidates in the town areas as an example, he said their success relies on which party is able to fulfill their aspirations and idealism.

“I think BN will address this in its manifesto on good governance and leadership, in line with the question on integrity, leadership continuity and political stability for the state to achieve greater heights.

“This involves basic needs and governance, question on unfulfilled promises as well as issues on late development,” he said.

On the issue on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr. Jeniri believed his stance is shared by the majority of the Sarawak people. He stressed: “It is not relevant. Local issues are more dominant from national issues, but the issue on oil price will give direct effect”.

He said for the next day or two, BN should use the traditional and modern media in the state election campaign.

“War in the cyber space is more terrible, especially among the young generation. For example, the use of the Internet in the towns in Sarawakis higher although the Internet, in terms of the source of information, falls at fourth place after television, newspapers and radio,” he said in reference to the use of Youtube by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud recently in an attempt to fend off attacks and allegations of power abuse and nepotism.

Said dr Jeniri: “Effective political communication using the new media to influence the voters is crucial, especially among the technology-literate voters who are not easily influenced as well as the medium-class group and educators who are sophisticated.

“They have to be convinced with facts, solid grounds and discourse which are more convincing to the sophisticated voters. This means the use of statistics and facts which are logical will brings effect”.

In this matter also, Dr Jeniri believed this election will create “hot spots” which are different with the host spots in the context of the Election Commission (EC).

Firstly, in the context of politics, there will be host spots if it involves a contest between big names or personalities with position in the party, like at Balingian, Piasau and Layar where the opposition would not give a free win. They will fight all out although aware that they will not win. In fact, the opposition will consider their ability to reduce majority votes as a moral victory.

Secondly, the host spots will involve areas where the majority votes obtained by the incumbents in the last election is narrow or less than 1,000 votes.

The third category of hot spots depends on issues. For example in Telang Usan in the interiors of Baram which is still plagued by issues on the Penans, logging, environment and the Native Customary Right (NCR) land.