Tough going for PSB out in the cold, say analysts

PSB has been warned against standing alone in Sarawak, although analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi warns of instability even if it joins the PH coalition. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A political analyst has cautioned that Parti Sarawak Bersatu’s (PSB) position in the state’s political arena may remain unstable, even if it joins the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

Speaking to FMT, Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said PSB was in a precarious position and seemed to have no direction at all.

He said each component party in Sarawak had its own strong supporters.

“PSB has no source of income as funds for its minor rural projects and rural transformation programme have been cut off by the state government,” he said.

Awang Azman said this occurred after PSB was found taking in former Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) members.

“Later, PSB was also excluded from the new list of councillors by the state government which weakened the party at its grassroots level, resulting in some of its members quitting or even hopping to another party.”

For example, he said, Jerip Susil left PSB as he no longer felt secure in a party that is not recognised by GPS.

“Besides, there is a slight chance for him to contest in the state elections as his current seat belongs to SUPP which is in GPS,” he added.

Awang Azman said PSB depends on its Bumiputera supporters and has difficulty gaining support from the Chinese community.

PSB could only get Dayak support if there were “popular” Dayak candidates contesting the seats, he said.

“There would be a three-cornered fight between PH, GPS and PSB and there would be a split vote between the Chinese and Dayak.”

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak analyst Dick Lembang Dugun said PSB would recruit more members to strengthen the party to face the next state elections, and would not join any coalition.

Although PSB still receives support from the Foo Chow community, it would be challenging for it to contest Chinese-majority seats because GPS could win with the right candidates, he said, adding that Chinese support has fragmented with the presence of DAP, SUPP and even PKR.

“Now it’s on GPS to come out with potential winning candidates to win back the five seats from PSB, including other seats that can potentially be won by GPS,” he told FMT.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah analyst Lee Kuok Tiung meanwhile warned PSB against standing alone in Sarawak’s political arena.

“It’s not impossible for PSB to join the PH coalition to face GPS in the coming state election,” he said, referring to talk that PSB had combined with PH to host the Gawai-Raya celebrations in many of the state’s constituencies.