PETALING JAYA: A political analyst has cautioned the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to be wary of a move by four Sarawak parties to leave Barisan Nasional (BN) and form a new pact friendly to PH.
Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the decision could be due to the parties wanting to “play safe” after the recent general election which saw BN defeated.
He said the parties needed to gain secure footing for the upcoming state election by setting up a pact supportive of the PH federal government.
“Why didn’t they leave BN before the general election but only after PH won?
“PH has to be careful with these four components because they may do to PH what they did to BN,” he told FMT.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg announced that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP) had unanimously agreed to quit BN.
The PBB president said they had also decided to form a coalition called Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
Awang Azman said Umno had been the most hit by the move as the four parties had been loyal to it and had helped make Sarawak a “fixed deposit” for BN.
He also said the shift in rural sentiments towards PH had contributed to the parties wanting to cooperate with the ruling coalition.
Meanwhile, independent political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said Umno had no choice but to start its own base in Sarawak.
He said BN would not have any representative in Sarawak unless Umno entered the state itself, adding that the party could not rely on PBB and the others to rejoin BN.
“Umno needs to find ways to spread its wings in Sarawak in order to ensure BN is secure in the state,” he told FMT.
Kamarul said Umno also needed to change its stand in wanting to solely pursue the Malay-Muslim agenda if it wished to gain support among Sarawakians.
“This needs to be discussed at the Umno general assembly. They need to take into account BN’s position in Sarawak and Umno’s need to spread its wings there,” he said.
He added that Umno would not be able to win back Putrajaya if it and BN focused only on the peninsula.