New faces needed to retain Bidayuh seats, GPS told

There is concern among some GPS party leaders following the vote swing in favour of the opposition in GE14 two years ago. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: Political analysts believe Sarawak’s ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) could lose most of the Bidayuh-majority seats to the opposition if the party refuses to field new faces in the next state elections.

There are eight Bidayuh seats, namely Tasik Biru, Opar, Tarat, Serembu, Mambong, Tebedu, Bukit Semuja and Kedup.

Awang Azman Pawi.

Speaking to FMT, Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said voters would protest if GPS were to allow old faces to contest in the Bidayuh seats, namely Mambong, Bukit Semuja, Opar and Tarat.

“The people want new faces with new ideas to contest the Bidayuh seats,” he said, adding that most of the older generation of candidates would not make an impact on younger voters.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin Jawong, who is also the most senior Bidayuh leader in GPS, said recently he was confident that GPS could win all the eight Bidayuh-majority seats in the next state elections.

However, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah was concerned about these Bidayuh seats due to the vote swing favouring the opposition in the 14th general election (GE14) two years ago.

Karim Hamzah.

“We are a bit worried as far as Bidayuh seats are concerned. Hopefully, all is well in the next state elections, because in the last parliamentary election, two seats fell – fortunately Serian saved us from embarrassment.

“So, in the next state elections, we should work hard to ensure not just seats in the Serian-Bukar Sadong areas are won, but also those seats in Bau, Lundu and Padawan are also won (by GPS). We do not want the Bidayuhs to be split,” he said.

Awang Azman said that outstanding issues involving native customary rights lands could be used by the opposition.

“Especially by Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), who could use the issue as part of its political campaign to go against GPS in the next state elections.

“Also, internet services in these areas (Bidayuh-majority areas) are still poor even though they are located not far from town.

“All these have resulted in many GPS supporters among the Bidayuh community feeling disappointed as they have yet to see development in their areas,” he said.

Francis Siah.

Meanwhile, Francis Paul Siah, head of the Movement for Change Sarawak also told FMT he did not believe that the Bidayuh voters will let GPS win these seats easily.

“The performance of the elected representatives in the next state elections will be taken into consideration by the Bidayuh community.

“They (Bidayuh community) are not ‘blind’ followers of politics. GPS will have to work very hard,” he said.

However, Siah feels the fragmentation of Sarawak opposition parties could help GPS win the next state elections.

“Fielding younger candidates could help GPS to win again,” he said.