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Young candidates seek to wrest rural seats from BN

S'WAK POLLS No treated water. No electricity. Maybe some dirt roads.

For some of the young opposition members slated to contest in Sarawak’s interior regions in the coming state election, such lack of development in their hometown is what drives them.

Although inexperienced and new to politics, they spoke passionately about causes they believed in, hoping the lack of development in their rural constituencies would help them win votes as well.

“It is not just me,” said Paren Nyawi, DAP’s candidate-designate for the border constituency of Katibas.

“When Sarawakians finish their studies, many would migrate to the cities (in Peninsular Malaysia) and work there.

“They would make comparisons whenever they come home, for holidays and so forth, and see the vast difference between Sarawak and the peninsula,” he told Malaysiakini in an interview on April 4.

The 35-year-old had been working in Kuala Lumpur as an auditor for 10 years, but now works as an aide to Sibu MP Oscar Ling, having joined DAP just last year.

Abandoned by development

Paren’s sentiments are shared by his Marudi PKR counterpart Elia Bit who studied in Shah Alam for a master’s degree in media and information warfare studies, before doing a short stint with Radio Free Sarawak.

Elia said her three-week tour of duty with Radio Free Sarawak last year was an eye-opener for her, not only on Sarawak’s lack of development, but also in her understanding of politics.

“When I read journals and research about my people, it says Malaysia is very good and we will be a developed country in 2020. People in Sabah and Sarawak are really rich, and all that.

“But when I go to the grassroots (to conduct interviews), it is totally different. A hundred percent different from what I’ve learnt and what you’d hope to see,” said the 28-year old...

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