Has GPS driven a wedge between the state and federal PH leadership?

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, June 13: The emergence of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) may have driven a wedge between Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders and their peninsula counterparts as both sides have given contrasting views on the new local pact.

But Sarawak PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen has played down the issue by saying it was not just Sarawak PH that was wondering whether the new state alliance was merely ‘changing clothes but still the same inside’.

Yesterday, shortly after the announcement by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that the state’s four ruling component parties (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) were to exit Barisan Nasional (BN) to form GPS, Chong issued a statement criticising it.

Chong opined that unless there was a clear change of policies by the state government, a mere change of name from Sarawak BN to GPS was meaningless.

“In future, if UMNO becomes stronger, they will again go along with UMNO,” he said.

During a press conference here this afternoon, he iterated what he said yesterday, claiming it was the voice of Sarawakians as a whole, not just Sarawak PH.

In a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thanked the state government for pulling out of BN and for stating that GPS would work closely with the PH-led federal government.

“They are not members of Pakatan (Harapan), but they have pledged support for us. So now, we have very strong support in Parliament because even Terengganu (which is run by PAS) has said it would support us,” he told Malaysian reporters during his working visit to Tokyo.

PH component Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), through its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, also welcomed GPS’s readiness to work with the PH government to safeguard national interests and the state’s rights based on the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“The decision (establishment of GPS) is expected to create better understanding and cooperation between the federal government and the state government in implementing government policies and development programmes in Sarawak.

“With the spirit of a new Malaysia, the decision of the four parties will pave the way towards the formation of a better nation in line with the expectations of all Malaysians,” said Muhyiddin in a statement.

Meanwhile, there is a speculation that Chong, who is also Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman, is not happy with the top PH leadership for not including him in the federal cabinet line up.

Based on an unnamed source, The Malaysian Insight this morning published Tun Dr Mahathir’s full cabinet line up.

From Sarawak, only state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chairman Baru Bian’s name was in the line up as Works Minister.

Asked to comment on this, Chong said he would not answer hypothetical questions.

“You ask Baru himself. Anything in respect to the appointment of cabinet ministers, you have to direct the questions to the Prime Minister himself because this is his prerogative. Don’t ask me.

“The appointment does not hinge on whether I have received an appointment letter. The announcement will be made by the Prime Minister as and when he deems fit. And that is his prerogative,” said Chong. — DayakDaily