KUCHING, Jan 11, 2016:
Political parties on both sides of the divide are scrambling for seat allocations as the state elections draw nearer.
A total of 82 seats are up for grabs in the elections — an increase of 71 after the gazetting of 11 new seats recently.
Even so, aside from traditional seats and incumbents who will be defending theirs or giving way to a fresh candidate, both BN and the Opposition have yet to iron out their strategies.
In the Opposition camp, the presence of Amanah has led to overlapping claims between PKR and DAP and also between PKR and Amanah.
In the previous elections, PKR secured three seats out of the 49 contested, namely Batu Lintang (See Chee How), Krian (Ali Biju) and Ba’Kelalan (Baru Bian).
Recently, PKR vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar announced that all three incumbents will defend their seats and they have also finalised 12 others, namely Tupong, Batu Kitang, Lingga, Simangang, Saribas, Layar, Machan, Nangka, Murum, Marudi, Telang Usan and Mulu.
He also said PKR was now eyeing 43 seats for this coming elections.
DAP, on the other hand, has yet to announce its seat allocation. Its chairman, Chong Chien Jen, said the party would be contesting in “some of the new seats”.
The new seats — namely Batu Kitang, Stakan, Bukit Semuja, Gedong, Kabong, Tellian, Bukit Goram, Murum, Samalaju and Mulu — are mostly situated in Dayak- and Malay-majority areas, making them mostly suburban and rural areas.
Since the last elections, DAP has pushed its focus towards suburban and rural areas.
They have also raised issues close to voters’ hearts, such as Native Customary Rights land issues and basic rural infrastructure problems.
“The BN leaders have blamed DAP for not bringing any changes to the area. But isn’t development the duty of the government of the day?
“We can only raise issues and it is their duty to act.
“Besides, who are the ones collecting taxes and assessment rates from the people? Aren’t those funds for the rakyat?” Chong told The Rakyat Post.
Chong also opined that BN leaders had been blaming the Opposition, which now holds most of the urban seats, for failing to bring development.
He said rural voters had been supporting BN throughout the years and were also calling for basic development and infrastructure.
“They have been supporting BN for the past 50 years. Yet, they are still crying for basic necessities. So are we to blame for this, too?”
In the last elections, DAP ousted nearly all of Sarawak United People’s Party traditional seats, namely Padungan, Pending, Kota Sentosa, Batu Kawa, Repok, Meradong, Bukit Assek, Dudong, Pelawan, Kidurong, Piasau and Pujut.
Having all these urban seats, DAP is currently the strongest opposition party in the state.
PAS, which contested in five seats previously, secured none but managed to shake some votes in the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) stronghold in Beting Maro.
BN, on the other hand, has yet to come up with any clear solution to heal the split in its component parties, namely in SUPP, which led to the splinter group known as United People’s Party (UPP), and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, which led to the setting up of Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras).
Though both UPP and Teras have yet to be officially endorsed as BN component parties, the fact that both parties have nine assemblymen who won their seats from their previous party gives weight to their presence.
BN sources told The Rakyat Post that the top leadership still sought some way to end the feud before the state elections but there is no sign of that happening.
The source also said Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem wanted the feuding leaders to step aside from this election so that he would have a free hand in drawing up strategies to ensure a major win for BN.
“Whatever it is, it seems like only Adenan knows what the game plan is. As for now, things are rather messy between the feuding parties.”
Party members have also heard of rumours on the election date.
There is speculation that the State Legislative Assembly will be dissolved on Feb 25, nomination day will be on March 6 and polling day on March 19. This can only be confirmed when the dates draw nearer.