The politics of development in Sarawak

Faisal S. Hazis, (2009) The politics of development in Sarawak. AKADEMIKA, 77 . pp. 91-111. ISSN 0126-5008

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Prior to the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak was a poor state with scarce physical infrastructure and slow economic growth. The Malayan leaders took advantage of this appalling condition by offering various development promises as an inducement for Sarawak to help form Malaysia. Development, therefore, became a ‘commodity’ which the state, as the ‘producer’, traded with the people of Sarawak in return for their support towards the formation of the new state. The politicisation of development has persisted in post-Independence Sarawak and becomes especially rampant during the present state leadership. This article dissects the state’s practice of politicising development by looking at the negeri government’s expenditure on minor rural projects and the practice of electoral patronage espoused by the ruling party from 1970 to 2006. Unlike the existing literature, this article analyses the ruling party’s strategy of electoral patronage by dividing it into four separate forms, namely promises of new development projects, issuance of financial grants and other ‘goodies’, opening ceremonies of completed projects, and ground-breaking ceremonies of new projects. It is argued that development has been exploited by the state as a tool of domination, thus hampering the growth of democracy and economic parity. As a result, the electoral domination of the ruling party, Barisan Nasional, has persisted in Sarawak including in the most recent 2008 election. To conclude, this article will discuss the future of the politics of development in Sarawak and its impact on the electorate and the ruling party.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Domination; developmentalist state; electoral patronage; politics of development; elections
ID Code:608
Deposited By: Mr Fazli Nafiah -
Deposited On:14 Mar 2011 06:51
Last Modified:11 Aug 2011 07:32

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