Friday, May 10, 2013

Struggle for political evolution may take time by Baru Bian

An article taken from MalaysiaKini. Click on title for link to Original Source.

Baru Bian | 12:55PM May 8, 2013

It was so difficult for me to get out of my bed Monday morning although I was already wide-awake, quite early in fact in spite of the late night vigil for the final outcome of GE13.

I am still trying to absorb the shocking outcome not only of Limbang parliamentary seat but all the rural seats where PKR stood in Sarawak except in Miri, an urban seat, where Dr Michael Teo stood.

I would have thought Baram and Saratok could have been won, at the very least. Nevertheless, God has kept us all safe, strong and healthy throughout the grueling campaign.
The entire big Limbang team banded together and gave their best till the end. We prayed and we cried and journeyed together. May God’s name be glorified.

My human mind finds it hard to believe and accept this outcome because we had prepared the ground for about a year or so before the election. In comparison, this was the best preparation ever undertaken by an opposition since I stood in Sarawak in 1991 under PBDS.

In the past, we were never as focused on seats or areas, and issues. In addition, at least to a reasonable degree, we had some financial support from all of you for us to organise our logistics.

We had a political consultant that sat monthly with us to review our progress and preparation. All went very well, it seems at least from our perspective.
Above all, we had the privilege of being prayed upon and prayed for by churches all over the nation and beyond who steadfastly stood together in oneness praying for God’s intervention in our nation through the general election, which coincides with the biblical year of Jubilee.

Yet we have not won a single seat in the rural areas of Sarawak. What happened? Who is at fault? What could have been done? Why did the people change at the last minute? What happened, God? Many questions popped up. The obvious reasons we all know.

My thought went back into months of preparation where expectation was high, where many of us believed that this must be the time for all of us to start a new and better Malaysia together.

That expectation was not misplaced as it was fortified by the facts that every Malaysian from different parts of the country and even those overseas, of different race and religion, from different levels of our society, came together to make a final ditch effort to “make it happen” for ourselves and our children.

Many of you who work and reside overseas chose to vote from abroad as postal voters, while there were those who flew at their own expense to vote in Malaysia.

I remember meeting an aunty in Limbang a week ago whose daughter works in Shanghai and a son who works in Singapore, both came back to vote in Limbang.
I met two young men, the sons of a well-known shop owner in Limbang, who were very proud to have met me; took a snap together and proudly said, they came to vote for a Change, “Ini Kali Lah!” (This time).

I met a lady perhaps in her mid-forties in Medamit who said that she has never voted before but this time came back to vote for PKR, my party, hoping for a change and better future for herself and her kids.

I recall the prayer drives around Limbang town together with some intercessors from some local churches in Limbang few months’ back and the final one on the eve of polling day for God’s intervention.

And yes, not forgetting the many prophetic utterances, dreams and visions for a spiritual transformation of our churches and society through this political process and our faith believing in their realisation.

The euphoria climaxed on the final night; the eve of polling where thousands upon thousands of Malaysians all over the country showed their support for an alternative government. And I can go on and on narrating one story after another, incidences after incidences of how hopeful we were that this must be the Time for Malaysia.

Yet when we all went in droves to the polling stations the outcome and results hours later did not come as we all expected. Many of us shed tears, in fact many mourned for our nation. For me, I thought losing less than a thousand votes would be acceptable as our candidate in 2008 only lost by 676 votes. But not by more than 8,000!

I was stunned. More shocked when finally not even one seat from the rural areas we contested won.
My immediate thought was, “forget these ungrateful souls”. I felt I was betrayed, cheated and unappreciated when I had to move out of my Ba’Kelalan constituency trying to assist these natives to fight for their rights against political oppression and injustice.

By about 9pm on polling day, I held a press conference at our party’s media centre in Kuching, with most of our candidates. From information received from these candidates, it is obvious that money politics is still very much alive and effective in the rural constituencies of Sarawak.
I said to the press; “recalling the Biblical exodus, I believe 'this generation' has to perish in the wilderness before the next generation ushers in the change we dream of”.

Was I too harsh and condemning? What has happened to all our attempts through Radio Free Sarawak, longhouse visits, ceramah, workshops on their land rights issues, to educate them on all these dirty tricks used by the other side; on money politics, threat to longhouse chiefs, deprivation of basic amenities, no scholarship, withdrawal of welfare and subsidies and more? I cannot comprehend.

Will it be another 50 years? I don’t know. Only God can help us here. On another note, had we not prayed and interceded, I cannot imagine how far worse it might have been.

As soon as the final results were announced, sms and emails flooded in to encourage me, and perhaps others, too. I say amen, to the fact that God is sovereign over the nation although the result we all wanted did not come.
But it doesn’t seem to jive with the situation I was in. Deep within me, I was saying, “God did not do His part of the bargain because all seems unreasonable, unacceptable and absolutely unjust”.

Then around noon today I read a short email from brother KJ John attaching therein a short note written by a Malaysian, entitled “I shed my tears too!” Thank you brother for the thought when you said that the said article “reflect only those with little political experience on the ground and those who consider that: change is a revolution and not an evolution”.

Then I began to realise that this is a struggle, a perjuangan, a political evolution that may take some time. It may go even beyond my time and my generation.

My daughter and sons, and their generation, I believe are ready to fight on and take over the baton from us, if need be. I was moved with confidence that our action had touched our children’s lives.

Many young people are very concerned of the state of affairs in our beloved country, they came to vote and even volunteered as Pacaba (short for polling agents, counting agents and barung agents).

This afternoon, brother Bob Teoh called, and encouraged me to see the positive aspects of the so-called “loss”. Firstly, the ghost of May 13 had finally been buried. Secondly, the issue of Hudud law had clearly been neutralised.

Thirdly, the religious extremists like Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali and vice-president Zulkifli Noordin had been rejected by Malaysians. Fourthly, the issue of Sabah autonomy was rejected by the Sabahans and finally the dual coalition system is here to stay.

Then I received an SMS from Pastor Patrick in Limbang who said that many of the Sunday school kids cried upon hearing the news that I lost Limbang.
Then I realised, our Children Bible gifts must have touched these young lives and I believe many others in all the priority seats where PKR stood.

Then I thought, “If this is the only gain I had contributed to Limbang lost, then my standing in Limbang was not in vain”.

Then there are those 4,698 voters who voted for me in Limbang and the many others in the other constituencies where our candidates stood and voted for us, too.  So there is evidence of stirring of sort but not enough to bring in the victory.

Then I recall Baram, which we lost by a whisker of just 194 votes. The Independent candidate got 300-over votes. Nationally, Pakatan Rakyat has gained seven seats in parliament from 82 in 2008 to 89 in this GE, in spite of widely reported fraud throughout the country.

In fact, Sarawak has gained five more parliamentary seats this time. And finally, the increase in popular votes for Pakatan throughout the whole country surged to 51 percent.
Close to 50,000 AKK transistor radios were distributed far and wide in the interior of Sarawak, and through this mean our message for change had impacted and touched some rural folks as shown in the increased of support in the rural seats.

Many thanks to the Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) team. So friends, brothers and sisters, I finally come to accept the fact that change has come, but not to a level we all expected if not for the uneven playing field, the changing of goal posts and the corrupt and biased referee - the Elections Commission (EC). Or perhaps as one of you responded, “maybe God wants us to pray for five more years.”

But remember, Sarawak will have its state elections in 2016 or maybe sooner. I urge you to continue to pray for Sarawak. I am very convinced now that the abject poverty of our natives’ folks placed them in a very vulnerable situation allowing money politics to remain supreme in elections.

Rights, idealism and even spiritual principles take a back seat. In my area, Limbang for example, voters were paid RM20, RM30, RM100, RM150, and RM300 depending on the strength of support. Other constituencies were paid RM100 as first payment and RM500 can be claimed after winning the GE.

This is not surprising as this had been the norm every GE. We did explain and emphasised the fact that this is not right and that it is not BN's money, etc, but to no avail.

There is only one solution; spiritual inward renewal and economic empowerment. The church, therefore, must help to bring in a very strong teaching in this area of political responsibility and awareness.

In conclusion I want to record my thanks and appreciation to all of you who stood with Pakatan, my family and I, through this political episode and undertook to remain faithful to pray for us and support me in my future political endeavor.

Many of you gave sacrificially to purchase the thousands of radios, petrol, Pacaba training, operation centres, and for the logistics before and during the campaigning period of two weeks, I say on behalf of all my colleagues and party members and supporters in Sarawak; a big thank you and may God bless you and your family in all your future undertakings.

I must confess, it’s so tempting to surrender, to give up to ‘throw in the towel’ as it were, but now I hear the voices of many of you who chose to walk this same road with me urging me to move on and not to lose heart but together we will carry on to realise our Malaysian Dream.

‘And now, O Lord I ask for your forgiveness for my lack of faith in your sovereignty and wisdom. I want to be still before you for you are still God over Malaysia and her people. Amen.’

Then I saw a sharing on WhatsApp from an unknown author that warmed my heart, which gave me back my smile and a resolve to focus on the future. May this encourage you too, to carry on.

Today Malaysia woke up and many hearts were broken.
We mourn our nation not because we lost, but because we were cheated.

'We lost not to a better party, but we lost to injustice.
We lost not to a better system, but we lost to the lack of integrity.
We lost not to a better count, but we lost to the failure in upholding civil rights.
We lost not to a better leader, but we lost to corruption.
We lost not to a better policy, but we lost to deceit.

But we will, and must not lose heart.

We may feel sad, but we must not give in to despair.
We may feel angry, but we must not lose our righteous ways.
We may feel cheated, but we must fight on.
We may feel like leaving, but we must stay together.
We may feel like giving up, but we must now let the dream carry us.
We may feel like nothing will change, but we must now become that change.

We will rally.
We will fight on.
We will not give up.
We will become a Better Malaysia.'

Esther Ng eventually came in with an appropriate meditation from Psalm 30:5, “Your sadness may last for a night, but joy will come in the morning.” I pray that the night may not be too long.

Let us all be the agent of change.

BARU BIAN is Pakatan chief in Sarawak and assemblyperson for Ba’Kelalan.

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