Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) can repeat its big 2016 victory in the upcoming 12th Sarawak state elections, says a leader of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
PBB’s vice-president Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said GPS was confident in winning a two-third majority of at least 55 seats was not an issue but agreed the big challenge would be to achieve the same results when the parties now in GPS were part of Barisan Nasional (BN) then and under the leadership of Adenan Satem.
“To win 72 seats as under Tok Nan (Adenan), we will have to work harder. We still have several days to reach that level of achievement. But it’s not impossible,” said Karim, who is contesting for the fifth term in Asajaya.
Karim expected the ban on big rallies and political talks, particularly in urban areas, to be a big blow to urban parties, pointing out that Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) massive gatherings had been able to cause a last-minute swing of votes in their favour in the past.
“This time, big rallies are not allowed and they can’t bring in good speakers from the Peninsula to bring in fence-sitters. So whether we can get 72 seats or more depends on how we build our campaign over the next few days.”
He believed that GPS chairman Abang Johari Openg’s performance since taking over as chief minister from Adenan in 2017 would draw voters. He cited how Johari fought for Petronas to pay state sales tax on petroleum products to Sarawak.
While urban areas are seen as DAP strongholds, he said people’s grouses with the party were becoming more apparent, while Pakatan Harapan’s 22-month tenure in Putrajaya was a blessing in disguise.
“Although many things were added to PH’s manifesto, they did not fulfil their promises. And this made Sarawakians feel like they were deceived,” he said.
Karim admitted there was concern that those in rural areas were unaware that four of the former Sarawak BN parties had formed their own coalition, especially since it was GPS’ first election under its banner.
He said BN had become an institution of its own in the state, adding that rural voters might not know what to choose if they do not see its weighing scale (dacing) symbol on the ballot paper.
GPS comprising Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) (formerly known as Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) left BN following the coalition’s defeat in the 14th general election (GE14).
The four parties then formed GPS on 12 June 2018 and led the Sarawak state government.
Karim denied claims that GPS had rushed into calling for the state election because of Undi18, pointing out that the polls could have even been held last year if it was not for the pandemic.
Sarawak polls are set on December 18 and early voting is on December 14. – New Malaysia Herald