Sarawak will only be a ‘friendly party’, not a member to any Malaya-based coalition

GPS logo (file photo)
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Commentary

By Lian Cheng

WHICHEVER side Gabungan Partu Sarawak (GPS) were to join amid the ongoing political “coup” purportedly initiated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya, it would not come as a surprise if the Sarawak ruling coalition will only join as a “friendly party” and not one of its members.

This is based on how Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has handled issues since he took the helm three years ago.

GPS has the choice of taking the middle path — by being a “friendly party”, like the part played by Parti Warisan Sabah in Pakatan Harapan, instead of being a member of any coalition, be it the one led by Dr Mahathir or long-time political rival, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

After being an opposition party for the last three years and the unflinching decision of leaving Barisan Nasional following the May 9 general elections, for the first time, Sarawak has been enjoying a lot of freedom in terms of decision making.

The Sarawak government need not answer to a higher hierarchy in many decisions, such as the formation of state Cabinet, development policy making and drastic political decision. GPS is akin to a bird that was set free and found a brand new horizon where it could soar.

It would be beyond understanding for it to rejoin a peninsula-based coalition and losing its autonomy. It is thus a logical conclusion that GPS will only join any new coalition as a “friendly party” if needed be.

Furthermore, being the top decision maker in Sarawak, Abang Johari could not and will not turn coat overnight to betray the aspirations of Sarawakians as all this while, Sarawakians have been told that Sarawak will maintain its political independence.

Abang Johari has in many occasions made the statement that Sarawak will not have anything to do with politics of Malaya, which he deemed as “quarrelsome and inconsistent”.

If Abang Johari were to make a U-turn on this decision and support Malaya-based parties by being a member of a new coalition, Sarawakians will feel betrayed and lose confidence in him. With Sarawak election around the corner, Abang Johari, as a matured and experienced politician, is expected not to make such a grave mistake.

By being a “friendly party”, GPS may enjoy all the benefits of being part of the new coalition, where its leaders can be appointed to the state Cabinet, continues to fight for Sarawak’s rights while at the same time, continue to have a complete say in developing Sarawak.

According to sources, GPS was willing to take side with Dr Mahathir because there are attractive offers especially in greater participation in gas and oil found in Sarawak, and the promise to honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), apart from appointments in the federal cabinet.

While speculations were rife yesterday that GPS will take the side of Dr Mahathir, who is taking the lead to form a new coalition, today, situation is said to be changed.

The latest speculation is that, Anwar is offering an even better deal to GPS than Dr Mahathir.

It has been rumoured that Anwar, who still has the majority control over PKR and total support from DAP and Amanah, only needs the support of 15 more MPs to take hold of parliament.

GPS, which has 18 seats, has thus been offered the post of a deputy prime minister apart from further leverage on MA63 by Anwar.

In face of suitors from all sides, it is the hope of Sarawakians that GPS may use this golden opportunity to bargain for the return of as much lost rights as it can, especially the rights to oil and gas found in Sarawak’s soil and coast. — DayakDaily