Not easy for PPBM to gain ground in Sarawak, says analyst

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst predicts that PPBM will not find it easy to establish itself in Sarawak despite being led by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, said the party would have to start from scratch, which could take some time.

Jeniri Amir.

He added that it was unlikely PPBM would “poach” leaders from opposition coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), as its Pakatan Harapan (PH) partners, particularly DAP and PKR, would not accept this.

“As for supporters of PKR and DAP, I don’t see them finding PPBM attractive given that the two parties are more established in Sarawak and were multiracial platforms which suit Sarawakians better.”

Jeniri said he believed that PPBM, which limits its membership to Malays, may open the party to non-Muslim Bumiputeras in Sarawak, like the Dayaks.

“If this happens, it is likely that they can attract Dayaks who aren’t happy with native customary rights (NCR) land issues and cause a split within the Melanau community, the majority of whom are Muslim,” he said, adding this would affect PRS and PBB, which are part of GPS.

With PPBM’s entry into the state, Jeniri said Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg would have to fortify GPS’ rural support by putting greater emphasis on rural development.

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

PBB vice-president Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah meanwhile said any party could choose to set up in Sarawak as Malaysia was a democratic country, but whether PPBM would be accepted by Sarawakians was a different matter.

“After more than 54 years of being part of Malaysia, Sarawakians are more politically matured and are able to analyse, evaluate and conclude which party is sincere in fighting for them and Sarawak’s rights, which have been diminishing over the years.

“It’s interesting to see PPBM wanting to spread its wings to Sarawak because its PH partners, DAP and PKR, already have a foothold here.”

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Karim, who is a state minister, said this could be because PPBM didn’t trust the state DAP and PKR and wanted to have a presence in Sarawak.

PBB’s Santubong MP, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, meanwhile, urged the people of Sarawak to stick with Sarawak-based parties.

“PH parties may not understand the aspirations and sentiments of Sarawakians, so Sarawak-based parties are still the best choice to represent the people.”

Yesterday, Mahathir, who is PPBM chairman, said his party would set up base in Sarawak due to requests for the party to open branches in the East Malaysian state.