The likely result of the 10th state elections is : BN: 55; DAP:12; PKR:3; Independent:1(all 71 seats). This is far from the more balanced expectation where the opposition deny 2/3 majority to the long ruling parties. While it would definitely be very disappointing to many hopeful candidates in the Opposition parties especially the multi-racial party PKR, there could be a silver lining to this dark cloud that they have to go through. If the failure to achieve their target in the state elections cause the really committed leaders and activists to persist in their effort to bring change then then the failure may serve its purpose. Democracy is not a journey on a straight line, as shown in the histories of Malaysia’s regional neighbours.
The opposition’s success from the 12th General Elections had aroused some unsustainable imagination(or hallucination?) that change can come without any hardwork. Under such an illusion you just need to wait for the right moment and locate yourself at the right place to get elevated to the pedestal of a `YB’ (an elected representative). Such illusion is visibly at work when one look at the lack of campaigning effort by the Opposition candidates-many of whom won’t start campaign until they get confirmation as a candidate and then given a big budget. By the time they satisfy themselves with that-if they ever will, it would be too late for them to do anything more.
Another reflection of the illusion is that they are only focusing on building themselves in the eyes of the top leaders-and forget that the ultimate arbiter of a `YB’ are the voters! If the candidates don’t have street credibility then they don’t get their votes. As simple as that.
But democracy need to be built from ground up. Looking up to less active and less committed candidates who are well to do may not be a shortcut to popularity or electability. The modern politician need to be savvy in many aspects -which demand more than what their other occupation can prepare them for. The time to improve itself may not be too long-given that the ruling party may take advantage of the current low point of the Opposition to call for a General elections, but a consensus and resolve to address the past weaknesses and to make the parties more people oriented/friendly may see rapid transformation of the Opposition parties into a better fighting force! The failure of the Opposition front also afford an entry point to initiate internal reformation so that only those who are prepared to work hard will remain in the team to push forward the original anti-graft, multiracial and democratising agenda.
Of course the above arguement is not meant to downplay the hardwork by some really hard working candidates and activists. There are those who lose despite their hardwork-due to the unprecedented vote buying campaign by the ruling parties at both state and federal levels. For those who are in this category they should be the right ones to spearhead the change agenda!
The Opposition parties will need to work closer with the civils society and community organisation to widen its appeal to the grass root communities and to take the rural communities more seriously. By connecting to the root of the community in the interior the Opposition parties may re-orientate themselves as a potentially more popular choice for the people. The failure in the 10th state election to reach the target-though the combined Opposition seats have doubled, may serve its purpose if the Opposition parties and the social movement learn the right lesson from it and start a new resolve to re-orientate itself towards building stronger ties with the communities who will be depended upon to cast the crucial vote for them and bring about a real change for the fate of the majority Sarawakians.