As Sarawak, Malaysian biggest state goes to the polls today May 7, the question is if this is Prime Minister Najib Razak first viable test to assess the level of public support for the current administration after nearly a year of allegations and political turmoil over fund misappropriations.
Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition is expected to return to office with a comfortable margin, considering the party controls 55 of the 71 seats in the state assembly, but recent 1MDB scandals have put that assumption in doubt.
In fact, the prime minister needs a strong support in the state to fend off public campaign led by former leader Mahathir Mohamad to get him out of the office and prove to his party he can still deliver.
“If they win really well, at least he can go back and convince his own party that he’s not a liability, he can still deliver seats in an election,” said Ibrahim Suffian, an analyst at the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research in Kuala Lumpur, referring to Najib. “A Sarawak election that delivered the seats for Barisan is going to be one that gives confidence to Najib as a prime minister.
While voters are more concerned with the provision of basic amenities affecting their lives on the Borneo Island, Najib in one of his numerous visits has promised to build a 1,796-kilometer highway linking Sarawak and Sabah at a cost of 28.9 billion ringgit if his party is elected. A move that could potentially deliver a victory in the state as public endorsement and validation of his administration.
“After waiting a while we can get what we needed from the government, things like a roof, cement and sand,” said the 51-year-old, who works odd jobs to supplement his income from farming. “I’m half-half about Najib. If he speaks the truth then I like him, if he’s not then I don’t like him. I can’t decide if he’s being honest or not.”
If anything, the election is a test of Najib’s popularity not only in Sarawak but the general perception of the current administration among the Malaysian people.
“The election is going to show that as controversial and damaging 1MDB has been in terms of the international financial reputation of Putrajaya, it has limited traction with voters who are in rural areas,” said Ibrahim from the Merdeka Center. “At the end of the day politics are local and the local politics are determined by which party can mobilize the voters, which party can attend to the needs of the voters.”
UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.
The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.
Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.
British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use”
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.
“It is very good news,” Hancock said.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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