Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would by now have been advised that his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) could be in for a real rough baptism of “non-Malaya” politics if it is to contest for seats in Sarawak or Sabah in the next general election.
Let’s look at this party that was formed with the objective to remove 1MDB scandal-tainted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the next general election.
First and foremost Bersatu is Malay-based and in the words of Mahathir, the party “is Malay-based because the majority of Malaysians in the rural and semi-urban areas are comfortable with Umno-type racism”.
Yes, secondly its “Umno-type”.
Well Mahathir, for your information, the majority of Malaysians in the rural and semi-urban areas of Sarawak and Sabah are not Malays and the Dayaks of Sarawak are definitely not comfortable with Umno-type racism.
Malays in the two Borneo states are in the minority and make up a small portion of the population.
In Sarawak, they “officially” make up about 23 per cent of the state’s population.
What most Malaysians are unaware is that the 23 per cent includes another small ethnic group, the Melanaus.
You take out the Melanaus, the Malays are even a smaller group.
The same could be said of the Malays in Sabah.
Because their number is small, the Malays in Sarawak have long banded together under the party that had looked after the interests — Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
Mahathir should just look at how difficult it had been for Malaya-based parties — PKR, PAS and more recently Amanah — to pry the Malay support from PBB.
Even DAP in the recent state election had tried.
In Sarawak, there is no Umno so who are Bersatu going to fight?
Oh sure, there are seats to be won and Bersatu’s objective is to topple the ruling Barisan Nasional in order to topple Najib.
But coming to Sarawak smelling and looking like Umno are not going to do the party any good.
Umno in Sarawak stinks.
Now let’s see. Didn’t Bersatu say that though it will be a Malay/bumiputera party, other races could be “associate” members?
That will infuriate the race that is in the majority in rural Sarawak, the Dayaks, even more as they would be treated as second class members.
That statement just reinforces the Dayaks and other non-Muslim bumiputera groups in Sarawak long perceived view they have been treated as such when compared to the Malays to jobs in the civil service, promotions, government contracts, scholarships and many others.
Now how to win support, let alone votes from the Dayaks if they see Dayaks as second class citizens?
In Sabah, Mahathir’s name does not smell exactly like roses.
The once majority Kadazan-Dusuns have blamed the former premier for all the ills in the state today.
Mahathir had been blamed for scheming a series of political maneouvering that toppled their non-Muslim Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) administration.
PBS governed Sabah from 1985 to 1994.
The race riot in 1986, the defections of newly elected PBS lawmakers after the 1994 state election were some of the things they have blamed on the scheming minds of Mahathir.
But no true Sabahan, irrespective of their race could forget the so-called Project IC which altered the race/religious demography of the state to favour of the BN in elections.
Sabahans again accuse the former premier for ordering the systematic giving of identification cards (ICs) to illegal immigrants who are Muslims – the Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis – so they could vote in elections despite inconclusive findings in the Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The illegal immigrants with the ICs, particularly the Filipinos, are now deemed a security threat as they are seen as the eyes and ears of the Aby Sayyaf militant group that had been blamed for all the kidnappings for ransom on the state’s east coast.
So while the sentiment is showing people in Borneo too want Najib banished to the political scrapheap, it does not look they would want to back Bersatu on this.
There are other parties they could go to.