DAP unlikely to make inroads in Dayak seats

MANY are now wondering if the DAP in Sarawak can achieve a breakthrough in Dayak-majority seats in the State election on May 7.

Buoyed by its thumping 12-out-of-15 tally in Chinese-majority areas in the last State election five years ago, the peninsula-based opposition party is banking on 17 Dayak-majority seats this time around to extend its presence, influence and representation among the indigenous population in the State Legislative Assembly.

A first victory in Dayak-majority seats can be regarded as a quantum leap for DAP in State politics. The party did not contest in any of the Dayak or Malay-majority seats in the 2011 polls. But this election out of the 31 seats the party will be contesting, 17 are predominantly Dayak and one with a Malay majority.

While many are excited to see how Dayak voters will respond to DAP’s wooing overtures, there are those still pessimistic about the party’s chances in the rural seats.

As some Dayak community leaders put it: “DAP is not ready yet to take on BN in any of the Dayak-majority seats. Not this time. For example, some of the DAP candidatesstanding in our constituenciesonly appeared about a yearbefore the election and I believe many voters, especially from the older generation, havenot heard of DAP or the candidates.

“If DAP were to make an impact in the future, its political activities need to be held regularly in every corner of the constituency. Whoever wants to contest under DAP ticket needsto create awareness of the party and its political struggle.”

Talks among Dayak voters seem to suggest that in some of the rural seats, DAP will not find the going as easy as it thinks, especially in the remote constituencies. This is because many voters in the interior have yet to know about the existence of the other political parties, especially those on the other side of the political divide such as DAP.

In most rural or remote areas, voters, especially the old timers, may only recognise the Barisan Nasional ‘Dacing’ symbol. To many of them, voting is simply to tick an ‘X’ on the blue square with a picture of a White Dacing.

Apparently, BN and the Dacing symbol have been etched in the mind of many rural voters and this itself is a formidable challenge for DAP to get the rural votes. So while DAP can still believe urban voters will ensure them a repeat of the last state election, it cannot expect the same from rural voters.

DAP has given equal emphasis to urban and rural seats but to win any of the latter is still a mission impossible– at least in this election.

Some observers think the one and only seat where DAP could spring a surprise is Tasik Biru.

Its candidate Mordi Bimol is facing BN’s Datuk Harry Henry Jinep in a straight fight in this Bidayuh-majority area.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang believed DAP has a fair chance of capturing Tasik Biru. He even wrote in dapmalaysia.org if DAP could win the seat, the party would stand a chance of advancing in the other Dayak-majority areas such Mambong, Simanggang, Bukit Semuja, Mulu, Kedup, Murum, Pakan, Ngemah, Pelagus, Katibas, Baleh, Kemena, Samalaju and Bukit Goram where the party is fielding candidates.

However, if it is uphill all the way for DAP in TasikBiru, then the climb will be even steeper in any of the other Dayak-majority seatswhere the party had never contestedor won before.

DAP has also been making a political “offensive” inSimanggang, Serian, Mambong, Mulu and Murum but like in five of the Dayak-majority seats it is contesting in – Mambong, Bukit Semuja, Simanggang, Mulu and Murum – the task of denying BN is daunting.

Aside from BN, DAP has to contendwith PartiKeadilanRakyat (PKR), its ally in PakatanHarapan, in the overlapping seats as well. This means the opposition partners will have to share the core opposition votes in six seats.Such a split will be to the advantage of BN.

According to a joint survey reportedly carried by DAP and PKR, the popularity of DAP candidate Sanjan Daik in the overlapping seat of Mambong is only 6.8 per cent compared with PKR’s Willie Mongin (16 per cent) and BN’s Dr Jerip Susil (51.8 per cent).

Like the other opposition parties, DAP has adopted door-to-door campaign for the rural seats due to lack of proper venues to hold its political rallies. Unless they have done their homework or moved on the ground for years, some DAP candidates may find themselves contesting in an ‘alien’ world.

Even in urban areas, the party will have to make do with whatever firepower it hasto court voters. And if it can retain all its Chinese-majority seats and win one or two Dayak-majority seats – that itself will be a big step forward.-Borneo Post

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