KOTA KINABALU: A Borneo bloc to forge a political alliance between Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Sabah parties will remain a pipe dream as GPS remains non-committal to the proposal, said an analyst.
The bloc was first mooted by Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan in 2018. At the time, then Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, the late James Jemut Masing, supported the idea, saying it was worth considering.
Warisan has been making the Borneo bloc proposal its campaign theme and distributing publicity materials that include both GPS and Warisan logos.
However, GPS has yet to come up with a statement about an official pact with Warisan or any other party in Sabah.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political analyst Arnold Puyok said it is understandable why GPS remains cautious because the local-based political parties in Sabah are perceived to be fragmented, not only in terms of their grassroots support, but also their approaches to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“I think GPS is willing to work with any party in Sabah with the same vision of propagating the Borneo agenda.
“It seems that everyone is riding on GPS, but GPS operates in a different environment. It has the political leverage to move independently,” he said.
Puyok said it is not easy for the local-based parties in Sabah to emulate GPS because of several reasons.
“Sarawak’s politics remains insulated from politics in the Peninsula,” he said. “So, GPS is using this to control the narrative of ‘Sarawak first’ and consolidate its local control.”
In addition, he said, Sarawak leaders are well-versed in MA63, and do not believe that Sabah leaders can match the late Adenan Satem and current premier Abang Johari Openg in terms of how they articulate and implement the agreement.
In terms of the political strength of the local parties in Sabah, Puyok said the local coalition, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), is considered “still new”.
“We don’t see GRS leaders talk about it (Borneo bloc) often and how they wish to turn it into something tangible.
“Politically, GRS is still fragile. We have seen rebellions, backstabbing and U-turns even before the elections. I doubt that GRS can survive beyond GE15,” he said.
According to him, Warisan also has its problems, and he wondered how the party is going to spread its wings to the Peninsula when it could not even win in Sabah.
“Some question where the party’s priority is, in Sabah or the Peninsula? It says it wants to be an independent entity, but its political base has been weakened by a series of defections to GRS, BN and KDM,” he said.
In the meantime, Puyok said, while GPS welcomes the idea of a Borneo bloc, it would prefer to wait until it is convinced that its Sabah counterparts can play their part in pursuing Borneo rights.