AJ or AP for Sarawak?

Choice. — DayakDaily.com file pic. //Photo: Pixabay

Commentary

PARTI Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Rafizi Ramli’s recent statement that Pakatan Harapan (PH) needs to win only a minimum of 18 seats for PH to take over Sarawak has caused quite a stir. PH’s ambition to take over Sarawak is nothing new, but the question how PH can take over Sarawak based on the number of PKR wins as per Rafizi Ramli’s computation is puzzling, to say the least.

For starters, Sarawak has 82 state seats. To win, PH needs to win at least 42 seats for a simple majority. But to really `take over’ Sarawak, PH might need more than that, otherwise it would be a half-past-six government without the muscles to do anything of significance. The ideal number would be 55 seats or a two-thirds majority to enable the government to enjoy stability and to carry out reforms and policies without stumbling blocks in the state legislature, including amending the Sarawak Constitution.

Hence, going back to the number Rafizi uttered, the next question then is this — where will the remaining 37 seats come from?

To recap, during a PH press conference on July 17, it was announced that the pact had agreed to the following arrangement: PKR to contest 40 seats, DAP 29 seats and Amanah 13 seats, meaning PH will mount a challenge in all 82 state seats.

Based on Rafizi’s confidence level, PKR is banking on the DAP and Amanah to deliver the remaining 37 seats, to secure a two-thirds majority. The statement in itself may indicate that the DAP is expected to deliver all 29 seats it has been allocated.

While this prediction and expectation may serve as a strong motivating force for some, it is viewed with disdained by other Sarawakians. To them, expecting DAP to deliver 100 per cent of its allocated seats is in itself an unfair assumption that all urban seats are their ‘fixed deposits’ and can be taken for granted.

Now, assuming that DAP lives up to expectations and delivers all 29 seats, PH will still be eight seats short of the magical two-thirds majority.

Where will these eight seats come from?

With Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) having declared its desire to set up base in the state, Sarawak PH will have to redo its seat arrangement. Pribumi Sarawak is expected to be formed by the second week of September. But that, ladies and gentlemen, is another story.

For now, let’s continue our analysis of Rafizi’s forecast. For a start, Pribumi will not be establishing a branch in Sarawak just for show. You and I need not be reminded that the boss of Pribumi is none other than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whom PH will definitely give some ‘face’ as he is the boss of the coalition. On top of that, the 93-year-old prime minister is certainly not a `walkover’ when it comes to political power play. It is, therefore, safe to assume that Pribumi will want to contest in some state seats, especially in predominantly Malay Bumiputera constituencies, which is currently the domain of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) — the backbone of the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS). To win over this voter segment, the venerable practice of ‘divide and rule’ will definitely be used again for it has never failed to wield its magic, although most Sarawakians may argue that we are “a united lot”. But that remains to be seen.

As far as most people are concerned, money, perks and positions remain powerful political ‘tools’ that can move the unmovable. Dr Mahathir, who is the Father of the New Economic Policy (NEP), certainly knows the importance of this. It is, therefore, not a surprise that Bumiputeras in the country have been given preferences in terms of special licences and permits. While the premier cautioned that permits sold or rented out would be revoked, one cannot help but notice that some successful Sarawakian AP holders are shaken to their core. These very Sarawakians are none other than those Malay Bumiputras who have been granted special licences and permits in Sarawak during the glorious NEP era.

Following the premier’s speech, everyone is once again reminded that approvals and renewals of certain permits are under the purview and mercy of the federal government, full stop.

Is there a hidden message in Dr M’s speech?

Now that Sarawak is an opposition state, will the special licences and permits of Abang and Malay AP beneficiaries within PBB be reviewed? Will Sarawak see some political frogs jumping to Pribumi in the next state election, hence Rafizi’s prediction that PKR only need 18 seats to take over Sarawak?

In short, will AP be more attractive than AJ? — DayakDaily