By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 2: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) will stick with its “2018 winning arrangement” for seat allocation among member parties DAP, PKR, and Amanah, but the Opposition coalition is also open to negotiations with non-GPS parties to form an electoral pact to face off against the ruling coalition and avoid three- or multi-cornered contests in the upcoming 15th General Election (GE15).
Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said that they have settled to keep the status quo whereby all three member parties — Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — will contest in their respective seats as in 2018.
“Each party in the PH coalition has been allocated certain seats, but the respective party is authorised and can proceed to negotiate to form an electoral pact with non-GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) or individual parties.
“I think it is more manageable where they don’t have to come back for further discussion within PH. We have given a lot of leeways for parties to negotiate on the matter,” he told a press conference after chairing the first Sarawak PH meeting at Sarawak DAP Headquarters today.
Sarawak PKR chairman Roland Engan and Sarawak Amanah chairman Abang Abdul Halil Abang Naili were present.
While it is not clear whether Sarawak PH will contest in all 31 seats in the impending GE15, Chong, also Stampin MP, emphasised that seats held by incumbents are generally non-negotiable given the advantage and plus point.
As to whether potential candidates have been identified, the Sarawak DAP chairman only mentioned that the respective parties would decide on it.
“What’s most important now is to come together to finish or complete the unfinished business, which is to carry out reforms to our country, particularly the fight against corruption and demand for good governance. That is our call,” he said.
He pointed out that fighting corruption should be a top priority because it hurts not only the country and economy but everybody, which was evident in the case of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who was convicted of corruption involving an RM1.25 billion solar hybrid energy project for 369 schools in Sarawak.
“Ultimately, when there is corruption within the national and State level, the people lose out, and here we have a live case where our children, especially rural and school-going children, lose out.
“They are supposed to have electricity supplied through solar systems to all the schools by this year, but because of Rosmah and the way BN (Barisan Nasional) has been operating, the basic amenities and facilities promised were delayed and deprived to so many of our children.
“If this is not enough, then I don’t know what is,” he said.
Chong, also Padungan assemblyman, pointed out that without a change of government in 2018, although only for a brief 22 months, these scandals would not have been exposed.
“Due to the change of government, people are now seeing the effect of the reforms with (Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak) in jail and Rosmah going to jail,” he said.
With that, Chong stressed that the reforms should continue to be implemented in Malaysia apart from the demand for good governance, like how the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) works at the federal level.
“Here in Sarawak, we can’t do so as GPS has a near clean sweep, so there is no check and balance,” he said.
The impending GE15, he continued, will play a very important role in that there are still a lot of VVIPs pending trials and sentencing in court. Whether those charges will be withdrawn or continue will depend largely on the election’s outcome.
“We call on people to stay strong with PH to ensure long-lasting and systematic reform required for our country to progress to greater heights.
“We cannot give up now because if we do, all the reforms initiated will be gone or discontinue and revert to the old days. We have a lot of unaccomplished businesses and reforms to be implemented for the betterment of this country. We need people’s strong support to realise those reforms,” he added. — DayakDaily