PETALING JAYA: Sarawak will remain an uphill battle for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the next general election (GE14) with the opposition unlikely to make any gains, according to a political analyst.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) associate professor Dr Jeniri Amir said he believes the results of the next general election would be no different to the last.
“The best the opposition can expect is to maintain its 2013 performance,” he said, referring to the six parliamentary seats that PH parties have – DAP (5) and PKR (1) – against Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 25.
He added that the worst case scenario is PH seeing similar results as last year’s state election, where they lost even the seats thought to be their strongholds.
“If UPP and SUPP can set aside their differences and work together instead of sabotaging one another, there is a possibility that they will be able to wrestle Sarikei and Sibu from DAP,” he told FMT.
Prime Minister and BN chairman Najib Razak yesterday called for conflicts between the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and its splinter party, United People’s Party (UPP), to be resolved before the next general election.
“I ask that the dispute be resolved once and for all.
“I believe (Sarawak Chief Minister) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) has a formula to resolve it before GE14, for SUPP to become a solid party again, as one SUPP,” he had reportedly said at the closing of SUPP’s 24th Triennial Delegates Conference.
According to Jeniri, cooperation and mutual support between SUPP and its splinter UPP would be an added advantage for Sarawak BN.
However, he believes that even if there was no such ties or reunification before GE14, it would not impact PH’s position in the state.
“This is because the opposition, especially DAP, has reached its zenith in Sarawak. In the last general election, they almost won all the Chinese urban seats.
“DAP has to now look at the rural seats in order to win the state. But there is no way for them to do this, without the money and resources that BN has,” he said, referring to what is sometimes called the 3Ms – money, machinery, and the media.
The 3Ms, he added, are especially important for the rural voters whose main focus is still on bread and butter issues.
“They don’t care about the complex issues that are highlighted in other parts of the country.
“And in the rural areas, traditional forms of media such as radio and TV are still the main source of information.”
Asked if unfulfilled promises, including for greater autonomy and development, would work against the state BN, Jeniri said looking at past voting trends, he believed it wouldn’t be much of a factor.
“BN had come in the last elections with plenty of unfulfilled promises, but the rural folks still cast their votes for the coalition.
“And BN has a lot of last minute tricks. BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) is just one of the tricks that always work with the rural voters,” he said.
GE14 has to be called within the next seven months.