While Sarawak’s new chief minister appears to have done well to neutralise some of the opposition’s “ammunition” against Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling coalition’s preparation for the state election is not without obstacles.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Masing said the current problems facing SUPP and SPDP must be resolved before the election is held.
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“We can’t support them or their candidates in the coming election,” he said when asked to comment on Adenan’s call for the natives of Sarawak to support local parties including the United People’s Party (UPP) and Teras, over outside parties such as DAP, PKR and PAS.
UPP, a breakaway group of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), is led by Local Government and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, while Teras, a splinter group of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), is headed by Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom.
Masing, who is also the state’s land development minister, said the BN leadership should allocate seats to be contested by the component parties earlier before the election is called next year.
“With the allocation of seats done, the respective BN component parties can concentrate on those areas to win the support of the people,” he said.
He said PRS expects to be allocated the eight seats it contested in the last election and the party is likely to contest in the new seats of Murum within the Ulu Rajang Parliamentary constituency and Silirik within the Kapit Parliamentary constituency.
“PRS will bid for seats which we are confident of winning for the BN. For us it is not a game of numbers, but a game to win,” he said.
There are also rumblings among the leaders of the SUPP and SPDP over the “good” treatment accorded to the UPP and Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras), said Jeniri Amir, senior lecturer in communication studies at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
He added that eventually they will have to accept the two. Adenan allows them to be in his government under a BN-Plus formula and it appears a matter of time before they become part of the state BN.
“I don’t think they will challenge Adenan on this. When Adenan called on the people of Sarawak to vote for local parties, PRS, PBB, SUPP, SPDP as well as UPP and Teras in the next election, it is a clear hint that he is going to take in both UPP and Teras.
“Both SUPP and SPDP have to give some of the seats they contested in the last state election to UPP and Teras to contest in the coming state election.
“And of course, one or two of the new 11 seats will also go to UPP and Teras,” the academic said, pointing out that this is the best solution to overcome the current problems facing SUPP and SPDP as well as the demands for seats by UPP and Teras.
“Once they have been allocated the seats, there will be less politicking among the six parties,” he added.
The yet-to-be-approved redelineation exercise would increase the number of seats in the Sarawak state legislative assembly from 71 currently, to 82.
Sarawak PKR vice chairman See Chee How said Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat (PR), comprising PKR, DAP and PAS, will not take the quarrels between SUPP and UPP and between SPDP and Teras lightly.
“This is because we are facing the BN which has the machinery and money at its disposal,” he said, adding that PR has to be cautious and not fall into complacency.
See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, said SUPP and SPDP leaders may not be happy with the problems they are facing now but feels this will not translate “into protest votes, it is not going to happen. They will still support the BN because they have no choice.”
He said PR would like to face the BN in straight fights in all the 82 seats of the State Legislative Assembly.
“We also have problems over seat allocations among the three PR members in Sarawak, and I am sure the leaders of the three parties will be able to find solutions to the problems before the state election is held,” he said.