By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, March 5: The earliest Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) can call for the state election is after it has reached out to the grassroots on the fundamental change of the new alliance and its struggles, opined University Malaya Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.
Thus, he reckoned the earliest GPS could seek the dissolution of the state legislature is April next year.
“GPS needs to go to the ground and tell its supporters of the change of name and logo from Barisan Nasional (BN) to GPS. This is crucial as presently many hardcore BN supporters are still unaware of GPS’ name and its logo. That process will take time.
“Furthermore, major initiatives such as the rural transformation programme (RTP) meant for the rural population have not been seen and heard reaching the target groups,” Awang Azman told DayakDaily here today.
He believed that for GPS to win the next state polls, which is due in 2021, it needed all the state government’s machinery, especially the Sarawak Communications Unit under the Chief Minister’s Office (Ukas), to highlight these projects to the masses.
“All state government departments and agencies, especially Ukas, play crucial roles in disseminating the state government’s efforts and initiatives to improve the livelihood of the people, especially in the rural areas,” he said.
In addition, Awang Azman pointed out that the state government must also reach out to all Sarawakians, even to those in opposing camps.
“There should be no discrimination in the implementation of projects, whether they are in the urban or rural areas. But the stress must be on the rural areas as the rural areas in Sarawak are basically still lagging behind and lacking in basic amenities such as roads, electricity and water.
“Only after all that is done can GPS plan for the state election, which to me is most probably after April next year,” he said.
On the current political scenario, Awang Azman believed that GPS would face a tough challenge from Pakatan Harapan (PH) as it controlled the federal government.
“The win by BN in both Cameron Highlands and in Semenyih by-elections cannot be used for GPS to gauge its strength against PH because when it comes to the state election, issues that would be raised by PH will be entirely different,” he cautioned.
Awang Azman also emphasised that while the Malays and Melanaus are solidly behind GPS, it would be different for other ethnic groups, such as the Dayaks and Chinese.
“While the 15 Chinese-majority seats could be considered black areas and the eight Bidayuh seats grey areas, the Iban seats too are difficult to predict at this point of time.
“So, GPS top leaders have to work really hard to win the state election, and it would be an uphill task even to retain the present 72 seats that they now held,” he opined.
On the other hand, PH Sarawak would have to discuss among themselves on how to allocate the seats among its four component parties.
“That by itself is a very tricky issue because the big boys in PH Sarawak, like DAP and PKR, will not give up their seats easily to component parties like Amanah and its newly accepted component party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu),” he said.
Awang Azman also warned GPS leaders not to dissolved DUN at the last minute, lest it spelt doom, similar to what former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did in the 14th general election last year.
“So, GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has to consult leaders of GPS component parties on when is the most opportune time to call for the state election,” he added. — DayakDaily