26 SEATS AND A LOUDER VOICE OF PREMIER SARAWAK : GE15
THEY were like " THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND THE OLDEST " during their political walkabout in Sibu last week.
The beautiful one was, of course, Priscilla Lau, secretary-general of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), and the oldest was Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, president of Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), who turned 80 in May 2022.
Priscilla and Wong were on opposite sides of the fence during last year's state elections, but they are collaborating in the general election.
Their parties are among the plethora of homegrown Sarawak parties that have become a threat to parties like DAP and PKR from Malaya - that is how Sarawakians refer Peninsular Malaysia.
As Sarawak gets ready to vote again, the question is whether it will be another battle of homegrown parties versus " MALAYA MARI " parties ???
The " SARAWAK FOR SARAWAKIAN " sentiment in the December state polls was like a fire that almost wiped out the Peninsular Parties.
DAP was left with only two (2) seats and lost its deposit in 11 seats, while PKR went home empty-handed.
Sarawak's homegrown parties now want a loud voice in Parliament so that the MA63 or 1963 Malaysia Agreement will see fruition.
They think only a homegrown political voice can do that.
Lau, a lawyer, has already sounded the battle cry: " EVERY SINGLE VOTE THAT IS NOT FOR SARAWAK IS PRO-MALAYA ".
How are the imported species to fight that kind of sentiment ?
" We want a federal government that is committed to looking into our demands for autonomy. Offering us the DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) post is meaningless.
" State what is next for MA63 in your manifesto. We want what is ours, no more no less, and we don't want any more excuses," said Jonathan Chai, Secretary-General Office of the Sarawak Business Federation. Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is hoping to ride on this " Sarawak First " mood to regain the seats lost in the last general election.
GPS won only 19 of the 31 parliamentary seats.
It was the worst performance ever, with six (6) seats going to DAP, four to PKR and two to independents.
But that did not stop GPS from becoming the kingmaker in the chaotic aftermath of the 2018 general election.
The widespread opinion is that GPS could win up to 26 seats this time, with the new seats being Sarikei, Mas Gading, Puncak Borneo, Saratok, Selangau, Julau, and Lubuk Antu.
If that happens, GPS will again be the beautiful bride that everyone will court in order form the next government.
Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has indicated that he will support a strong government. The only party he does not want to work with is DAP.
He has yet to forgive or forget the insulting remarks made by then Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that Sarawak would go bankrupt in three (3) years.
" Abang Johari has continually stressed that Sarawak must stand as one voice in order to call the shots over those in Putrajaya.
" He is grateful to his predecessor Tun Adenan Satem, whom he credited for lighting the spark for a strong Sarawak identity and as a beacon for moderation, " said Sibu-based politician Senator Robert Lau.
Abang Johari has also been campaigning on the premise that GPS is its own boss, its headquarters is in Sarawak/
But parties like DAP and PKR are just " branches whose headquarters are in Malaya".
But this is a general election and many Sarawakians see it as choosing the next federal government and prime minister.
The Sarawak for Sarawakian sentiment may not necessarily have the same effect in the general election as in the state election.
Chinese voters showed DAP the door in the state election but the DAP parliamentary strongholds of Bandar Kuching, Lanang, Stampin and Sibu are like four Chinese mountains insurmountable by other parties.
A DAP campaign line that a win for Barisan would mean a pardon for Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been quite effective among the urban Chinese electorate.
The lifestyle and excesses of the former premier and his wife reminded them of their former chief minister Tun Taib Mahmud.
Claims that UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could be a Prime Minister candidate is also scaring urban voters.
The state government recently conferred the state's highest award to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in conjuction with the Governor's birtday.
Some said Abang Johari wanted to signal his preference for Barisan, others said it was to show support for Ismail Sabri to remain as minister in the event of a win.
But will the voters go for a louder Sarawak voice in Parliament or will the opt for political check and balance ???
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