Red-hot battle expected during 12th state polls, says political analysts

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 5: Sarawak will be a real battleground for all political parties in Malaysia in the 12th state election to show who is the most capable to administer the state.

Political analysts Associate Professor Dr Arnold Puyok of University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of University Malaya do not forsee Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and its ally United People’s Party (UPP) having problems with seat allocation.

But this would not be the case for Pakatan Harapan, they opined. With the launching of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in Bintulu recently, they believe Bersatu’s presence would fuel competition among its allies, especially among the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Its other ally is Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).

“And Bersatu is not entirely free to contest in the upcoming state election (which is due in 2021). This is because it needs to abide by the decision of PH itself, namely PKR, DAP and Amanah.

“So, it would be a real challenge for new parties such as Bersatu to contest in the coming state election as both DAP and PKR have been established here much earlier.

“And of course the distribution of seats will be a major issue. ‘Big brothers’ such as DAP and PKR will be given priority as they are the more established parties, and they will pick the most winnable seats and leave the least possible ones to their new partners. This fact is certainly valid, and Bersatu should be prepared with this political reality,” they told DayakDaily today.

In the last state election in 2016, DAP and PKR clashed in six constituencies, namely Batu Kitang, Mambong, Simanggang, Ngemah, Murum and Mulu. PKR contested in 40 seats, DAP 31 seats and Amanah 13 seats.

Dr Arnold Puyok

On the issue of who will be the Chief Minister of Sarawak if PH takes over, Awang Azman reiterated that under the so-called ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ among PH component parties, Sarawak along with Penang and the Federal Territories are under the DAP. States like Kelantan, Terengganu and Melaka have been given to Amanah, while Kedah, Perak and Johor are given to Bersatu.

“So, if PH captures Sarawak, the chairman of the state PH, Chong Chieng Jen, will be the next Chief Minister of Sarawak and not Baru Bian of PKR as he is his deputy,” Awang Azman said, stressing that even with only minimal seats in Perak, the Menteri Besar is from Bersatu.

On another issue, he opined that as a democratic country, any party could contest anywhere without restrictions, including Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

“Sarawak should welcome any party to establish and contest and let the people judge and determine the fate of these parties,” Awang Azman asserted.

Meanwhile, Arnold opined that Bersatu’s decision to establish itself in Sarawak was to ‘test the water’.

“Whether or not it can provide a strong challenge to GPS will depend very much on Bersatu’s policy on Sarawak’s issues as contained in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and its ability to attract more local Bumiputera leaders,” he said.

He added that if the results of the 14th General Election were anything to go by, they meant Sarawak was no longer insulated by parochial sentiments.

“There’s a real chance for national-based parties to gain acceptance in Sarawak; but again, this depends on their policy and selection of local leaders,” he added. — DayakDaily