Thursday, January 15

Can coffee-shop politics bring change to Sarawak?

In the absence of "Ruai" (longhouse verandah) or Rumah Dayak in a city like Kuching, coffee shops have now become meeting places among the Dayaks to discuss issues particularly affecting the community.

Often seen at the “meetings” were pensioners, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and politicians. Sometimes civil servants including lecturers and teachers join the group during weekends and public holidays.

Two coffee shops in BDC Stampin, Kuching are the usual haunts which act more or less like a mini-parliament. In the morning they usually gather at A-One coffee shop with newspapers lying in front of them. The topics of the day will be centred on issues that appear in the morning’s papers especially issues of interests to the Dayaks. Divergent views are expressed. And the “debates” may last up to 12 noon when they go back for lunch.

In the afternoon session, they usually gather at Ah Leong from 5.00 pm and may last till 10.00 pm or even beyond.

Although they come from various shades of political and religious beliefs and from various Divisions, they listen to each other’s views with tolerance and patience. Their “professionalism” makes our debates in Council Negeri and Parliament pale in comparison.

Many of the things discussed are a reflection of true ground situation. For instance, their discussions on NCR land being grabbed by big companies and cronies of powers-that-be, the destroying of longhouses and fruit trees, the blockades, the arrests of NCR landowners, and political issues including the invasion by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to Sarawak’s rural areas, the weaknesses of Dayak leaders, the bullying tactics of Parti Bersatu Bumiputra (PBB) on weaker BN component parties, etc.

Perhaps out of curiosity one day one minister from PBB anxious to find out sent “spies” to these coffee shops to find out who are these people and he was surprised to see in the list the names of those who have held high offices in the government and in the corporate world.

Nothing much can he do, but he knows that these former civil servants who had served the government are turning against them and are crying for change. As pensioners, they have great influence over their relatives and friends in longhouses.

Coffee-shops politics as they are usually known have also become a common trend in Sarawak towns and cities where everyone shares his knowledge and exchanges his information with others and their views have influenced others leading to the electoral victories or defeats of candidates. It was because of this coffee-shop politics that Barisan Nasional lost its two-third majority in Parliament, failed to dislodge PAS in Kelantan and worst still lost four States to Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 elections.

Can coffee-shop politics bring change to Sarawak? - The Broken Shield



Cr. Lukau said...

Coffee shop is a place for beating fatigue and stress, attract good company and meeting new people everyday.Every new day is a fresh new beginning, face the future with courage, confidence and optimism.

NEIL said...

That's why these dayaks talk from morning till late into the nite but still they are directionless.There is no will to make it into a reality.One says,you must walk the talk,but I don't see any.It's just coffeeshop talk anyway.I think these guys should spent more time on the road,going to rural longhouse to talk to those people about the corrupted practices of the gov't and how best we can change this gov't.Listen to the what their grievances is and how best you can help them,not staying in comfort zone and bla bla bla.

Apai Semalau said...

Talking alone is not going to achieve much. You can "berengdau" in the coffee shop till the cows come home and not see any changes. Maybe the pensioners would do justice to themselves by visiting their respective "rumah panjai" to find out what can be done to improve their lot. Spending too much time talking is not going to help any community. Do something while you still can. Your public service experience would be an asset to the rural folks. Walk the talk!

Anonymous said...

Neil and Apai Semalau: I agree with you both, that they should do better than that. However, as Broken Shield has elaborated, these guys do make an impact, at least among themselves. At 3rd Mile the haunt is a coffee shop, next to STAR office. In Bau, the haunt is at Mui Muk's coffee shop. It would be a better idea if the BDC guys pick up surfing, blog and chat. Then there will be more 'Broken Shields'. Taib and Jabu will definitely die standing.

Tiyung Dayak said...

I used to be one of them. There were four of us – a policeman, a lorry driver (an ex-army sergeant), my friend and I. Our daily Parliament sitting was at 7.30 am – 8.00 am; 12.00 pm – 1.00 pm; 5.00 pm – 5.30 pm. Yes, of course, Borneo Post was the main source for our argument at that time – anything that’s related to local politics.

Next time, guys, whenever you are going to converge at any coffee shop for a Parliament sitting, do bring your laptop or some note books to jot down some important points. After that, update your blogs and share the points given with other Dayak readers!

In that way, any BN assemblyman can “fish” for ideas from the blogs (because they are too lazy to blog)… L.O.L.!!!

Aki Josh said...

Don't underestimate the importance of coffee-shop politics! Coffee shops have been sites for political dissent in Europe since the 17th century. Charles II of England tried to suppress the London coffeehouses as "places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers", but the public flocked to them. Perhaps he was thinking of what happened to Charles I, who lost his head for being a tyrant. No doubt "Sarawak Headhunter" would approve (metaphorically speaking of course)!

NEIL said...

If coffeeshops talks can achieve something,then dreams also can.Wake Up!

jumpover said...

Udah tentu...ukai semina politik coffee shop ...tang politik nembiak2 baru mega ulih ngubah pengidup kitai.

Aram nyukong PR.

Anonymous said...

Dont underestimate the power of coffeeshop. It is the venue where you meet friends over cup of kopi 0 or a bowl of kolok mee. Bula orang enti sema sida madah sitting in coffeeshop is a waste of time.
Many ideas can crop up in coffee shop. In the longhouse, we use the ruai but in town, it is the coffee shop.
Those who are well-off, they go to cafes in the hotel or even the Sarawak Club to talk on anything under the sun. And if you are a golfer, you go to the go course to talk on anything.
The objective is the same - either you are in coffeeshop, hotel cafes or golf course - it is to talk on anything, business, insurance, politics, Dayak welfare, floods, or even George Chan and Jabu. etc.

Coffee drinker said...

I think there is no harm to meet at coffee shop to discuss with your friends, be it about politics or any issues. As long as we do not spending “too much” of our time. It is the same thing as what we are doing now sharing our opinion in the blogspheres. Since there are still many in Sarawak who do not access to internet, campaigning at coffee shops can be one of the strategies where we can inform our friends and relatives who are still ignorant about issues, for example NCR land and corruption of BN politicians.

Tiger said...

Coffee Shop politics is good. I believe is could change the mindset of the Dayaks one day. It is a place where we exchange views and opinions on political issues. Of course, we also need to go to the rural and tell the rest of the Dayaks about the issues relating to all of us. However, if there are some people campaigning and some people in the coffee shops talking and spreading the news, then the coffee shop politics can bring change to our community.

The coffee shop "politician" would be a vehicle to spread the news on the PKR. The Dayak Symposium in Sibu on the 31st will the talk in the coffee shops soon. Whose joining?

Chakui said...

Coffee shop tallk carries less weight in any decision making.What has been discussed in a coffee shop talk is always doubtful and subject to be challenged.From my observation, some disgruntled personalities frequenting a coffee shop to express their dissatisfaction to their companions.Prove me wrong.

Patron said...

Those who think that talking to friends in a coffeeshop is a waste of time, I believe, are the hypocrites of the highest order. And that include the likes of Neil.
Barack Obama hatched his presidency dream in a car barrack with his friends. Taib dreamed of becoming chief minister in a mosque. Therefore, it does not matter where you can come up with ideas, either it is in coffeeshop, car barrack or mosque, so long as these areas are practicalable and possible to achieve. Tun Ling Liong Sik, for example, decided to join MCA after meeting a friend at a coffeeshop. He rose to become its president.
There are countless examples of ideas being hatched in odd places, including the Broken Shield blog.
All it needs is for Jetty to post a commentary, and the next thing you know, the blog is flooded with comments and ideas.
It is not only the Dayaks that patronise coffeeshop. I think there are more Chinese and Malays patronising the premises.

Coffee Shop Bloggers said...

Response to Chakui's comments:

Chakui said: "Coffee shop tallk carries less weight in any decision making."

- Depending on the topics, time, purpose & venue, coffee shop talk can be a very convenient and effective place to share and discuss important issues related to Dayak problems such as NCR land deal, job opportunities, education, etc. And during the course of these "randaus", important decision making can take place with just a stroke of a pen.

Chakui said: "What has been discussed in a coffee shop talk is always doubtful and subject to be challenged".

- Well, not all coffee shop talks are gossips or mere talks like you said. In urban areas like BDC, Tabuan Jaya, King Centre and MJC in Kuching, those who patronise coffee shops in these areas include politicians, govt officers, pensioners, lawyers and other educated people. Sometimes they bring their laptops and PDAs and start to blog on issues of the day just like what Mr Jetty did during one of the 'talk session'. (Author of The Broken Shield Blog) In fact, he got his idea to write articles for his blog from the tips/pointers given by his friends and "spies" at one of these coffee shops.

Chakul said: "From my observation, some disgruntled personalities frequenting a coffee shop to express their dissatisfaction to their companions.Prove me wrong"

- Again you are wrong here. Some of those who alway patronise the coffee shops around Kuching are smart executives, lawyers, bankers, civil servants, policemen, etc. In one of the outings, I've seen articles from the local blogs such as from "The Broken Shield", Borneo Warrior", "Dayak Baru" and "Sarawak Headhunter" were being printed and distributed amongst the coffee shop patrons for them to read and discuss.

- So, Kueh Chakui, do not underestimate the power of the Coffee Shop Politics in Sarawak as it can be one of the "best platform" to discuss issues of common interests and concerns to all of us in view of the coming next General Election.

Abdullah said...

We Malayans dumped Umno and BN again at KT despite billions of bribes. Yet we Malayans have benefited from Umno and BN by stealing Sarawak and Sabah resources. Yet the Sarawak and Sabah people stick with Umno and BN. You must be certified fools. If we don’t want Umno and BN, if we can take their billions and still vote them out, why can’t you do the same? Don’t tell me that you are benefiting from Umno and BN more than Malayans, after all it is Malayans who have got the resources of Sabah and Sarawak to be used for Malaya development. We have shown you the way, we have shown what strength means, we have shown what the people’s resolve means, we have shown you what refusing to be bribed means, we take the money and we vote Pakatan. When will you follow us? Wake up Sabahans and Sarawakians before it is too late.

Anonymous said...

Coffee shop can be the starting point of a great journey. The extension of the journey is when the coffee shop politician goes back to their respective kampungs or long houses during gawai or christmas or over the weekend and share what was shared at the coffee shop. With that we make good of the coffee talk. Coffe shop is one of the place where one can find D& form the police specila branch seeking for informatiopn