Analyst sees PBB leaders joining PH through PPBM

Dr Mahathir Mohamad with other PPBM leaders during the launch of PPBM Sarawak.

PETALING JAYA: Political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff has speculated that PPBM’s presence in Sarawak may attract some PBB leaders into Pakatan Harapan.

Commenting on last weekend’s launching of PPBM Sarawak, he said PBB had, for some time, been showing positive interest in Pakatan Harapan.

Now that PPBM had gone into the state, he said, some PPB figures “and other interested parties” could be joining PH through the Malay-centric party.

However, he added that this may cause some tension in Sarawak PH, which is dominated by DAP and PKR, many of whose leaders have refused to work with PBB.

He also said Mahathir’s close relationship with Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud could lead to uneasiness with Sarawak PH leaders. “They despise the former chief minister,” he added.

Taib apparently still holds considerable sway in PBB, the lynchpin of the state’s ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Kamarul Zaman Yusoff.

Kamarul said it would take the willingness of PKR and DAP to allow PPBM to play a bigger role in the state to ensure the smooth running of Sarawak PH.

Another analyst, Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, voiced doubt that PPBM would have the kind of impact Umno had in Sabah, as predicted by SUPP president Sim Kui Hian.

“It is unlikely that DAP and PKR will give way to PPBM in Sarawak,” he said, referring to the distribution of seats to contest in an election. “Even if they do make way for PPBM, it will be for unwinnable seats in PBB strongholds.”

However, he said PPBM could still be a game changer if it could swing election results for certain seats.

Jeniri spoke of the sentiment in favour of state rights and said this remained strong among voters. To soften this, he added, Pakatan Harapan must “spend big” to resolve infrastructure problems in the state before the next state election.

He noted that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg recently announced a state budget of nearly RM12 billion, the largest annual budget in Sarawak’s history.

Tony Paridi Bagang of UiTM Sabah said PPBM’s entry posed a challenge to GPS.

“GPS must work hard and become an effective government,” he said. “It must continuously fight for Sarawak’s rights and interests.”