KUCHING, May 20, 2015:
A change in the Sarawak political scenario is possible, but not with the Opposition’s current state.
Political scientist Dr Faisal Hazis said the Opposition coalition in the state was in shambles now and it risked losing some of their seats in the coming election.
“The Opposition has lost its focus here and it has failed to work as a team. It must not forget that it is going against a seasoned political giant at the polls,” said Faisal told The Rakyat Post.
Earlier this year, the state DAP quit the Pakatan Rakyat coalition due PAS’ strong stand in implementing hudud law.
In the 2011 state elections, out of 71 seats, the PR coalition secured 13, of which DAP holds 10 while PKR holds the other three. Most of these seats were contributed through urban support.
That election also saw an independent candidate winning in Pelagus, a former Barisan Nasional seat.
Despite these wins, some of the seats were won with marginal majority votes, namely Batu Kawa, Dudong, Piasau and even Ba’Kelalan, where state PKR chief Baru Bian is the incumbent.
“The Opposition has to go the extra mile to secure their seats this time.
“Besides, the current BN administration is making headway with its populist policy, which has gained a lot of momentum,” said Faisal, who is also Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Social Science senior lecturer.
Faisal believes Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s policy of combating corruption, illegal logging and introducing inclusivity in his administration across the board, may sway the urban political support.
“BN has a new boss and he has shown what he can do, giving an impression of better changes for the state. His policies may attract non-partisan younger voters,” said Faisal.
A recent illegal logging and corruption crackdown even saw an Assistant Minister among those questioned for suspected involvement in corrupt practices.
The joint operation, codenamed Ops Gergaji, also led to RM600 million worth of assets seized and more than 400 accounts frozen, in the joint collaboration effort between Adenan’s administration and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission agency.
Despite the success of this crackdown, the state BN also faces trouble within its coalition, coming from its component party splinter groups, namely United People’s Party and Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras).
“The members from these parties are incumbents and these two parties are yet to be included in the BN coalition,” Faisal added.
The state BN consists of four component parties, namely Parti Pesaka Bumiputera, Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party and Sarawak United People’s Party.
UPP is a splinter of SUPP while Teras is a splinter group from SPDP.