PETALING JAYA: Parti Keadilan Rakyat has held firm against aggressive DAP pressure for the Sarawak PKR to back down from their plan to contest 40 seats at the Sarawak elections.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali turned the DAP calls for one-to-one battles against the Barisan Nasional against them by echoing the remark and saying that parties in the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance should try to avoid multi-cornered encounters.
In a show of support for Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian, the national party leader noted that Baru Bian had announced on Friday that 35 seats had been resolved with five more still in discussion. “So give them a chance to discuss within the next 48 hours,” he said.
Nominations must be filed on Monday. Baru has stated that Sarawak PKR intended to field 40 candidates and has resisted DAP pressure to concede some of their intended seats to their coalition ally.
Yesterday Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen had made an apparent attack on Azmin and Baru by saying: “If a leader cannot keep to his word, then he is not fit to be one.”
His remark appeared to be aimed at an agreement on seat allocations in Kuala Lumpur last week between Azmin and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng. However, Baru complained that national leaders had reneged on the state party’s plans, and was given the mandate to decide on the seats.
The DAP tried to pre-empt negotiations by announcing their final list of 29 candidates and adding one more after Sarawak Workers’ Party Larry Sng pulled out of Bukit Goram. PKR has said their final list would be released by Monday.
Yesterday, in an apparent attempt at making himself the linchpin in the coalition, Chong declared: “There’s no point negotiating further. If they want to talk, they can talk to me.”
However, Azmin said: “I appeal at this 11th hour for both parties to sit down and see how best we can work to ensure one-to one fight against Barisan Nasional.”
Earlier in the day, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang had also appealed for electoral unity, in an attempt to pressure PKR into backing down.
Sarawak PKR has released a list of 35 candidates with five more seats being negotiated with the DAP. These seats are believed to be Bukit Semuja, Simanggang, Mambong, Mulu and Murum.
Azmin, echoing Kit Siang’s remarks, said “we have a common objective to fight Barisan Nasional, so I think this is the best battleground for us to show unity”. In the context of the continuing dispute, the remark was clearly aimed at the DAP to back off.
The DAP held 12 seats in the old 71-seat state assembly and PKR three, with one independent member.
Voters will now elect 82 assembly members on May 7.
The DAP’s strength has come from Chinese-majority constituencies, most of them in urban areas, while PKR has had the more difficult task of taking on Barisan Nasional in mainly rural constituencies, which are much larger and more remote.