Seminar: Adenan, Autonomy, and the Alternatives: Sarawak Decides 2016
About the Seminar
A recently published survey by a respected pollster indicated that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s popularity has soared among Sarawakians from 74 percent in July 2015 to 81 percent in January 2016. The new Chief Minister is not only popular among the Bumiputera voters who form the backbone of Barisan Nasional (BN) support but also among ethnic Chinese who overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in the 2011 state elections. Many believe that Adenan’s popularity will help to swing the Chinese votes, thus enabling the BN to consolidate its electoral dominance in Sarawak. However, some skeptics argue that the Chinese ground is not moving significantly enough to the BN because there are lingering issues and problems that the new Chief Minister has yet to resolve. Another interesting and significant development going into the 2016 elections is the rise of Sarawak nationalism. The manifestations of this sentiment vary from the call for greater autonomy to the more extreme call for secession from the Federation of Malaysia. It is believed that the rise of Sarawak nationalism may erode the popularity of federal opposition parties. However, some quarters argue that the ruling party had played the sentiment of Sarawak nationalism in the previous state elections and this did not stop close to 40 percent voters to vote for DAP and PKR. With so many questions raised over the impact of Adenan’s popularity and Sarawak nationalism, how will the 2016 elections pan out? Will Sarawakians decide to go for Adenan’s promise of hope and greater autonomy or will they continue to demand for change? These questions are the focus of the presentation.
About the Speaker
Faisal S. Hazis is the Head of Centre for Asian Studies and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His research interests include electoral politics, state-society relations, democracy and civil movements. Dr Faisal has studied Sarawak politics for over 18 years and published numerous books and articles on the subject. Among the notable ones are Domination and Contestation: the Muslim Bumiputera Politics in Sarawak (ISEAS Press), ‘The Politics of Development in Sarawak’ (UKM Press) and ‘Patronage, Power and Prowess: Barisan Nasional’s Dominance in East Malaysia’ (USM Press).