(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Kidurong by-election result is one of those rare occasions where the defeated party felt elated while the victorious party felt defeated. It was no surprise therefore that at the Kiduring by-election counting centre last night, when the results were known, the DAP leaders, members and supporters were smiling while the SUPP and Barisan Nasional leaders were in a black dirty mood, and had no heart to celebrate.
The whole atmosphere was best caught by the comments of the leaders of Sarawak DAP and SUPP after the results were known last night, where Sarawak DAP State Chairman, Jason Wong Sing Nang said the defeat was a "victory in itself as the majority was very slim" while the SUPP President Datuk George Chan Hong Nam moaned that the Barisan Nasional would conduct a post mortem to assess the reason for urban votes being in favour of the DAP as "We have put in all efforts, not only to win but to win with a big majority".
Despite the entire Sarawak State Cabinet led by the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud campaigning in the Kidurong by-election, Michael Sim of SUPP, who had expected to win with a landslide majority, could only scrape through with 384-vote majority.
It is significant that all the Sarawak Barisan Nasional big-guns in the Kidurong by-election could only garner for the SUPP candidate an extra 617 votes, i.e. from 5,106 votes in the 1996 state general elections to 5,723 votes in the by-election. It is also significant that DAP candidate, Wong Sing Ai, despite the battering from all the Sarawak Barisan Nasional big-guns, could also increase his votes from 5,128 votes in 1996 to 5,339 votes yesterday, an increase of 211 votes.
I regard the Kidurong by-election result as a "victory" of sorts and congratulate the Sarawak DAP and Wong Sing Ai for putting up a good fight, which though defeated, will inspire Sarawakian people to forge ahead for the right to shape their own destiny in the state.
In my last message to the Kidurong voters, I had called on them to stand up and vote in a manner which would be a ripple turning into a tidal wave to bring an end to an old political era and the beginning of a new political age in Sarawak.
Although the DAP lost in the Kidurong by-election, the poor "victory" of the Barisan Nasional should be a clear signal to the Sarawak Barisan Nasional leadership, in particular the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, that they should be more responsive and sensitive to the needs and aspirations of Sarawakians - and to stop taking the people for granted until election-time, when they would all descend on the voters with their bags of tricks!
Although the voters of Kidurong had not spoken loud and clear as would be the case in a clear-cut victory for the DAP, they had nonetheless spoken with considerable emphasis that they want to see changes in Sarawak government and politics - a statement the Sarawak Barisan Nasional can ignore only at their own peril!