MIRI: The Gawai Dayak festivities, which began on June 1 and will stretch until month’s end, has taken on a distinct political sheen this year.
The festival is meant to usher in a good harvest season.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of politics at the Gawai celebrations this year, fuelling speculation that the 12th state polls are not far off.
Though the deadline for the state polls is only in June 2021, indications are the political parties in Sarawak are all gearing towards an early poll sometime early next year.
This Gawai saw visits by Sarawak ruling party leaders from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to Dayak strongholds in both urban and rural constituencies.
There was plenty of merry-making at the festivities.
But there were also serious discussions on ground preparations by the GPS teams in the longhouses they visited.
Sources said there was talk about large financial allocations for upcoming projects for longhouse upgrading and infrastructure repairs.
The Pakatan Harapan leaders too were busy in their Gawai outreach in Sarawak.
Both state and national PH leaders have been visiting in droves since June 1 and are still carrying out a series of Gawai visits throughout Sarawak.
They have already visited longhouses in the outskirts of Kuching parliamentary constituency and Serian town.
DAP vice-president Gobind Singh Deo and Sarawak DAP leaders, as well as Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian and branch chiefs, visited four villages last week and the week before.
“Our presence drew huge crowds at each of the villages and longhouses we visited,” said Sarawak DAP deputy chairman Chiew Ching Sing, who was in the delegation.
He told StarMetro that the response from the native communities to PH was overwhelming.
“In every village we visited, about a thousand people turned up to greet and talk to us.
“Even those from nearby longhouses also came to enjoy the merry-making.
“The visit by Gobind, who is the Federal Communications and Multimedia Minister, over the weekend is just the start of a series of PH visits to the grassroots for the Gawai and Hari Raya festivities.
“There will be similar big-scale visits to Miri soon,” said Chiew, who is state assemblyman for Tanjung Batu.
This Gawai is certainly a very political festival.