Will GPS give in to Bersatu candidates to contest in Sarawak?

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Mar 12: Will Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) give way to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) candidates in the 15th General Election speculated to be around the corner?

The answer to the question lies very much on the decision of GPS which consists of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The question may not be a tough one in terms of principle but when it comes to practicality especially winnability, it may remain an open question.

Perhaps that is the reason, PBB Vice President Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah when contacted, give an “open-ended” answer to this “open-ended” question.

“We will resolve it when we come to the bridge,” said Abdul Karim who is also Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.

He said GPS has yet to reach the stage of having to provide a conclusive response and there has yet to be a discussion on the issue. Pointing out that GPS has to take into consideration of the present situation where GPS has a cordial working relationship with Perikatan Nasional (PN), he acknowledged all pre-existing seat allocation arrangement between different component parties with the ruling coalition is also a factor to be taken into account.

“Of course, we would love to see everyone happy, as we have been supportive of each other. But we have to bear in mind that we work within the framework of the existence of a federal parliament and a state assembly.

“We will cross the bridge when we come to it. There is nothing that can’t be resolved within politics. Pundits may speculate but we will resolve it when we come to the bridge,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily.

While Abdul Karim may have yet to make up his mind, PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing see things in a more “black and white” perspective, reiterating GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s (who is also Sarawak Chief Minister) statement that “GPS will contest in all 31 MP seats”.

To Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister, it is everyone’s right to stand as a candidate in any constituency in any election. The four MPs of Bersatu namely Saratok MP Datuk Ali Biju, Puncak Borneo MP Datuk Willie Mongin, Julau MP Larry Sng and Lubok Antu MP Jugah Muyang may contest as they wish.

However, Masing questioned whether they will contest as independent or under a certain party. If it is the second case, why party then? GPS or Bersatu?

“These four MPs, of course, can defend their seats. That is their right to contest on any parliamentary seat. But as what? An independent or standing party candidate? Please bear in mind that CM (Chief Minister) had stated that GPS will contest in all 31 MPs seats,” said Masing, without directly spelling out his stance, though the nuance is clear.

Masing is responding to an online news today which reports that the views of two pundits – James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute and Awang Azman Awang Pawi of University Malaya where both held that the protests from GPS will not change the fact that the four Bersatu MPs will contest in their present respective constituencies come to the 15th general election.

Chin predicted that the four will contest under the PN logo or even the GPS logo while Awang Azman believed that PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will persuade Abang Johari to accept Bersatu as part of Sarawak ruling coalition as “GPS Plus”.

As everything is possible in politics, things may happen as the two pundits have predicted. However, taking into consideration of a chief minister who always keeps his words, and who was politically sidelined for decades before assuming chief ministership, would he be easily succumbing to the pressure from the federal?

Perhaps there is always a simple answer if we care to go back to the fundamental. If presently the four MPs can comfortably be Bersatu members without upsetting anyone in GPS component parties, perhaps things should just remain status quo.

If their winnability is as high as it has been portrayed, they may continue to stand as independent candidates, where their status as candidates will not offend anyone — not GPS, not PN. And no one can stop them from doing that, certainly not GPS as it is their constitutional rights.

In such a case, there is no necessity for Abang Johari to change his stance but continue to uphold his initial stance of GPS contesting in all 31 seats, where he will not be caught in a political fix between pressure from federal and component parties. It will be fair game for all. – DayakDaily