Analyst forecasts smooth sailing for GPS in 61 seats, but tough fight to get 72 seats or more

Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

by Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Dec 16: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) may win more than 72 seats if it is able to turn some grey areas into white areas in its last thrust in the 12th Sarawak Election.

Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya (UM) said at this stage, GPS is expected to win at least 61 seats and these 61 seats do not include grey or black areas which GPS may turn into white seats at the last minute.

He opined the criteria to determine whether a seat is grey or black is by observing where GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has visited so far, in particular Ngemah and Krian.

“If GPS’ ‘whitening’ effort is successful, it will be able to retain 72 seats or more,” said Awang Azman who is also a member of the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Elections at UM and whose view is based on a recent study involving Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Sarawak Malaysia.

This study involved 4,500 questionnaire respondents and in-depth interviews with more than 450 individuals and focus groups throughout Sarawak.

Awang Azman also did not disregard Parti Sarawak Bersatu’s (PSB) final thrust efforts, adding last-minute efforts may impact seats such as Ngemah, Engkilili, Ba’Kelalan, Opar and Batang Ai.

“Similarly, Simanggang, Meluan, Balai Ringin and Tamin are expected to see tough fights when PSB launches its final attack on a large scale. But GPS will not sit back and do nothing. It will also make carpet-bombing attacks in all these hot areas,” said Awang Azman.

On the N11 Batu Lintang seat, he said PSB is relying on its candidate See Chee How, but See’s machinery will also need to work hard in the last thrust to keep the seat.

He said PSB’ hope lies with Bawang Assan, Ba’Kelalan, Engkilili, and Ngemah and these seats will eventually be PSB’s lifeline to guarantee the party’s relevance and survival after the election.

Awang Azman opined politics of ethnicity will remain the political culture in Sarawak where the ethnicity of a candidate is the deciding factor for victory.

Personality is also a determining factor but it varies from constituency to constituency, he added, as in some constituencies, local issues and the candidate’s personality may play a major part.

Basically, he said if GPS were to capture a two-thirds majority, the cards it holds are continuity of development, political stability and inclusivity, which are the key factors driving Sarawak forward.

Awang Azman summarised issues of concern to voters as including check-and-balance, an effective and efficient government administration, Sarawak’s stability, prosperity and capability for a more secure future, good track record, ability to offer better quality of life, policies and transparency of leaders and administration.

As for candidates, he said voters seek in candidates qualities such as humility apart from a good track record, easy accessibility to them, non-discrimination in giving aid, ability to offer timely assistance, fulfilling of election promises, responsive to the people’s views and requests as well as the ability to bring to their constituencies high-impact development projects. — DayakDaily