By Charles Santiago
A popular science fiction writer, Ramez Naam, said: “We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance, and good governance comes from freedom of communication.
“It comes from ending corruption. It comes from a populace that can go online and say, ‘This politician is corrupt, this administrator, or this public official is corrupt’.”
His words hold true for me today, where upon landing in Bintulu, Sarawak the immigration officer said I needed to leave tomorrow.
Clearly the Chief Minister, Adenan Satem, doesn’t believe in freedom of information and is terrified that Opposition politicians will reveal the truth to the people of Sarawak in our election campaigns.
Furthermore he has violated the Constitution, which says a citizen can enter the East Malaysian state for purposes of legitimate political activity.
In direct contrast, Barisan Nasional leaders are allowed to freely campaign in Sarawak until polling day on May 7.
Many of my colleagues and other Opposition politicians have either been barred or had their stay in Sarawak restricted.
This shows the Federal Government, Prime Minister Najib Razak and the state government of Sarawak are frightened of losing the election if the Opposition’s echoing cries for reforms are allowed to be heard.
And by doing so, Adenan and the Barisan Nasional have hijacked the state election.
It’s a clever plot or so Adenan thinks, as it’s a preconceived strategy. Names of “unsavoury” characters, as Adenan calls them, are on a blacklist. The immigration officer looked through the list before announcing that I needed to return to Peninsular Malaysia in 24 hours.
Although we all know that elections in Malaysia are far from being free and fair, the blatant disregard for law displayed by Adenan, in cahoots with Najib and the Barisan Nasional administration, is shocking.
He has denied the people of Sarawak access to alternative political views, is playing dirty politics and abusing his powers as the top guy in the state.
In beginning his election campaign, Najib called the Sarawak election a “precursor” of the next general election, scheduled for 2018. He said a victory “will certainly form a very strong momentum for us moving forward”.
The Sarawak vote this Saturday is the first test of Najib’s popularity since the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal broke. The Prime Minister has also failed to convince the rakyat about the origins of the billions of ringgit that was deposited into his personal bank accounts.
So as allies, Adenan is doing a trapeze artist act to keep information away from Sarawakians, and particularly those in the rural areas.
Victor Hugo, the French poet, novelist, and dramatist said: “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.”
While Adenan and Najib may have government machinery and fear tactics at their disposal, real power lies in the hands of the people.
They may win this election but the people and the rest of the world will know they cheated their way through it and in doing so, have lost the legitimacy to rule.
This article originally appeared in Free Malaysia Today.