Malaysia – Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen of the DAP has urged for strong governance in Sarawak to safeguard the state’s multi-cultural tolerance despite the governing Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) coalition with federal parties PAS, Umno, and Perikatan Nasional.
Dr Yii, who is his party’s surprise candidate for the Batu Kawah seat, stated people in this area are concerned about what they perceive to be “extremism” promoted by Islamist PAS and Malay nationalist Umno, among others.
“I believe there is a yearning for change, rising unhappiness on top of other extreme emotions brought in by parties like PAS, the right-wing of Umno, that is a danger to the multicultural fabric that Sarawak has traditionally enjoyed,” he stated.
Despite his poor odds, Dr Yii emphasized the need of a “strong opposition” to act as a check and balance and so assure the state government’s responsibility.
“In order for that to happen, we’re going to need a strong resistance. And I’m not referring just any opposition; I’m referring to credible, proven opposition with a track record and an attitude of ‘we’re in it for the long haul’.
“At the end of the day, if a state, nation, or area lacks a robust check and balance mechanism, we are in for difficult times,” he continued.
Dr Yii will square off against incumbent Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian of the GPS, Chai Kueh Khun (Parti Bumi Kenyalang), and Fong Pau Teck (Parti Bumi Kenyalang) (Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak).
Peninsular Malaysia has lately been shaken by prohibitions on number forecasting shops and the sale of alcoholic beverages in specific regions of PAS-led Kedah.
The Perikatan Nasional has also imposed restrictions and new rules on coffee shops that offer alcoholic beverages, requiring operators to apply for a permit particularly to sell beer beginning January 1, based on a hitherto unenforced clause under the Excise Regulations 1977.
Dr Sim, who is also the SUPP president, said that Sarawak is exempt from the need that coffee shops seek a license to serve beer beginning next year.
Following directions from the Ministry of Finance, MCA president and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong declared that the Customs Department will discontinue enforcing liquor permits for the sale of alcoholic drinks in retail outlets.
Dr Sim beat DAP assemblywoman Christina Liew by a margin of 2,085 votes in the 2016 Sarawak state election.
Voting is set on December 18 in Batu Kawah, a neighborhood southwest of Kuching with 20,681 registered voters.