While Pakatan Harapan parties have “settled” seat negotiations in Sarawak for the next general election (GE14), it is unlikely that they will perform any better in the state than in GE13, say political analysts.
This is due to the strong rural support for Barisan Nasional, which has been reinforced in recent times due to the policies and popularity of former Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem.
Yesterday, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng revealed that Pakatan Harapan parties had settled seat negotiations in Sarawak, where last May, DAP and PKR had taken on each other in several multi-cornered fights in the Sarawak state election.
Universiti Malaya political analyst Awang Azman Pawi said it was “commendable” that the opposition had settled seat negotiations early on, but this – at best – would only help them retain the parliamentary seats they held.
He said the “Adenan factor” will see BN retain rural seats and national issues would see the opposition win the urban seats.
In his short time in power, the late Adenan pushed for the recognition and gazetting of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land, revoked the gazetting of land for the Baram dam and allocated some RM1 billion for rural development among others.
“Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg is seen as a ‘Mr Clean’, so for now there is no big issue within Sarawak BN except the rift between SUPP and UPP.
“But the fighting between SUPP and UPP, in a parliamentary election is irrelevant because these parties compete mostly in urban areas where DAP will win. Regardless of whether SUPP and UPP unite or not, the DAP will still win.”
Awang Azman said this was because Chinese voters – which dominate urban seats – want a check and balance in the Dewan Rakyat.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political analyst Jeniri Amir said he was doubtful that a complete compromise had been achieved, but said it shouldn’t be much of a problem for Pakatan Harapan parties to do so.
He said in Sarawak, the likes of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Amanah and PAS was a non-factor, so seat negations were less complex than in Peninsular Malaysia.
“But at the end of the day, BN will still take the rural seats which make up two-thirds of parliamentary seats in Sarawak.”
“The Adenan factor may still have an impact in rural areas because of what he’s done, but Abang Johari’s policies on rural development and rural economy will be more vital.”
As for the urban seats, Jeniri said it was likely that the opposition will retain all their seats and that when it came to parliamentary seats the Adenan-factor wouldn’t play a big role.
“Urban voters won’t be influenced by what the state government has done. Even if Adenan was still alive, the voting pattern of urban voters won’t change. They will still vote for the opposition in a parliamentary election.”
In last May’s Sarawak state election, the Adenan factor was widely credited for the BN’s sweeping victory, where they won 72 of the 82 seats contested.
In the previous state election in 2011 when Abdul Taib Mahmud led BN, the ruling coalition won 55 seats out of the 70 seats on offer then. The Election Commission added 12 seats in a redelineation exercise carried out in 2015.
Adenan, who led Sarawak BN in the last election, passed away in January due to heart complications.
Source : Robin Augustin @ FMT Online