Politics

Opposition parties in Sarawak suffer from poor strategy

sarawakelection

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – April 20, 2016: Several Sarawak-based analysts were of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that Pakatan Harapan will put up a convincing performance in the upcoming state election.

They concluded as such given the opposition’s poor strategy, particularly after observing PH’s DAP-PKR squabble and the coalition’s inefficient state legislative assembly seats allocation.

According to them, the opposition parties will definitely clash with each other in the election that will be held on May 7.

Such was so because PH and Pas will send a total of 93 candidates to contest in the state’s 82 seats; DAP 29, PKR 40, PAN 13 and Pas 11.

“Kit Siang (DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang) said that DAP can win at least 27 seats…it is very ambitious of him but such a feat would be almost impossible to achieve,” said Associate Professor Dr Faisal S.Hazis of Institute of Malaysian and International Studies.

He reasoned that the lack of a proper electoral pact among the opposition parties seemed to suggest that this election “is not about toppling Barisan Nasional” but more on the lines of becoming the strongest opposition party in the state.

“I think they are fighting for the survival of each other rather than challenging their enemy (BN).

“That is why DAP wanted to go beyond their comfort zone (Chinese majority constituencies) but they ended up squabbling with PKR instead because contesting rural seats were traditionally done by PKR,” said Faisal.

DAP and PKR Sarawak are currently not on good terms because of DAP’s decision to contest in 15 Dayak-majority constituencies which are mainly located in rural areas.

“It is rather unfortunate for them (the opposition parties) as I do not think they will win as big as they did in the previous election.

“This is the first election since the fallout of Pakatan Rakyat and what I’m seeing right now is that…they are merely contesting for the sake of contesting,” he said.

Like Faisal, Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak was also of similar views on the opposition’s highly likely inability to make significant electoral gains in the upcoming state election.

“The current strategy that they (PH) are doing to engage with BN (Barisan Nasional) right now will only weaken their performance in the election.

“By clashing with each other, the opposition parties will halve their chances of winning a seat that they might have won if they maintain a one-on-one fight with BN,” he said.

Be that as it may, Jeniri also viewed that there “is a silver lining to such a strategy.”

“Though this strategy will hurt them in the upcoming election but the result will be beneficial for the opposition in the long run.

“When they clash with each other, the opposition can get a clearer picture as to which one of them has the most grassroots support in a particular area.

“That way, they will know which seats should be allocated to which party in future state elections. In other words, this election will help them to become more efficient in the future,” he told The Mole.

On whether DAP will perform well in the 14 Dayak-majority seats it had planned to contest in, Jeniri said that the party will most probably lose.

“Most of those areas are rural areas with low level of political literacy and the only politics those living in those areas are fond of are politics of basic needs and politics of developments.

“Yes, DAP has its ‘Impian Sarawak’ but BN’s political propaganda has been in effect for over 40 years and it has been ingrained in their minds that BN is the government and the government is BN,” Jeniri explained.

In the 2011 Sarawak election, the opposition, particularly DAP and PKR made significant gains where they managed to more than double their seats; DAP from six to 12 and PKR from one to three.

Despite the opposition gains, BN retain its two-thirds majority with ease, winning 55 seats as compared to the Pakatan’s 15.

The seats won by DAP in 2011 were mainly in Chinese majority areas, namely Padungan, Pending, Kota Sentosa, Batu Kawa, Repok, Meradong, Bukit Assek, Dudong, Pelawan, Kidurong, Piasau and Pujut.

PKR won three seats, which were in Chinese-majority Batu Lintang and Bumiputera areas of Krian and Ba’Kelalan.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

Despite becoming The MOLE's journalist in 2014, he still has a hard time traversing the city. If he is not lost, this northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make some sense out of the Malaysian political sphere.