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SIBU, A MALAYSIAN BORNEO SURPRISE


Malaysia's voters want more than just cash handouts.
Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition (BN) has a time-tested campaign strategy: Promise voters steady leadership and direct development funds their way. The problem is that tack does little to allay mounting concerns over the country's endemic corruption and lack of real economic reform.
That's the lesson of the opposition Democratic Action Party's win in a Sunday by-election in the Borneo Island state of Sarawak. Four-time candidate Wong Ho Leng beat a ruling party candidate backed by Prime Minister Najib Razak by a sliver. The win was such a surprise that one DAP leader dubbed it a "miracle."
  • Given that the National Front has had an iron grip on Sarawak for decades, it was. No DAP candidate has ever won in the Sibu constituency. The government also wasn't taking any chances: Mr. Najib personally traveled to Borneo three times in the past two weeks, and promised 5 million ringgit ($1.6 million) for infrastructure upgrades plus 15 million ringgit for Chinese-language schools. Ethnic Chinese voters compose around 67% of the local voting base.
  • Yet according to initial reports, Chinese voters flocked in numbers to the DAP, an ethnically Chinese party. Even more significantly, the opposition picked up Malay votes too. In part, that's because the DAP and its coalition partners are getting smarter about cooperating to physically reach more voters and explain their platform. But it's also because voters are getting tired of the same National Front strategies they've been fed for years as they watch investment capital and jobs go elsewhere in Asia.
Source: The Wall street Journal
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