Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar James Masing urged his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleagues against underestimating Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s influence, even in East Malaysia, now that the former prime minister has turned against the ruling coalition.
Masing noted Dr Mahathir has been seeking out smaller Opposition parties in the two Borneo states and warned that he still posed a significant threat to BN at the next general elections if he could persuade them to join forces with his new party under a united front.
“The gathering of smaller parties in Sarawak and Sabah by Tun Mahathir, if he could do it, will have an impact come GE14. If Tun Mahathir could rope in all smaller parties under one political umbrella, there must be valid reasons or justification for them to follow Tun Mahathir,” local daily The Borneo Post quoted Masing saying.
Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak president, said that BN should understand the reasons behind the local political idealogies to follow Dr Mahathir and be ready to counter his arguments.
“One must always remember that the winner of an election cannot be taken for granted before the last vote is counted. Similarly, BN should take the fight with Tun Mahathir seriously,” he said.
Dr Mahathir who quit Umno earlier this year is now the protem chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which is said to have linked up with former rural and regional minister and Semporna MP Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal who will be heading a local, yet-to-be-named party in Sabah.
However, The Borneo Post quoted Universiti Malaysia Sarawak senior lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir in saying that Dr Mahathir’s idea of consolidating all local parties to fight the ruling BN coalition would not make any impact in the local political scene.
He said that it was unlikely that small opposition parties could face and take down the strong Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) led by chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, due to a lack of a credible and influential leader who could consolidate and get all the parties in Sarawak under one umbrella.
“Even if the local parties could be gathered under one umbrella, as Tun Mahathir has suggested, I am sceptical about what they could achieve. PBB is just too influential and strong. I doubt they have the room to manoeuvre,” said Jeniri.
The Malay Mail Online