Sarawak polls: Analysts believe GPS will field direct candidates as component parties in Sibu claiming overlapping seats

PDP and GPS flags are seen at the PDP Dudong office. — Borneo Post Online pic
PDP and GPS flags are seen at the PDP Dudong office. — Borneo Post Online pic

SIBU, Nov 30 — Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) component parties are known to have “traditional” seats, which have been allocated to them since the days of Barisan Nasional (BN) Sarawak.

Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) would usually have the lion’s share, followed by the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

During the last state election in 2016, the then BN Sarawak coalition under the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem fielded 13 BN direct candidates due to splinter parties — Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) and United People’s Party (UPP).

It proved to be the right move as 11 of the BN direct candidates went on to win their seats.

However, the incumbents from the then UPP and now Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) — Datuk Ranum Mina (Opar), Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa (Engkilili), Datuk Tiong Thai King (Dudong), and Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan) — have left the GPS coalition.

For the upcoming 12th state election, there would appear to be overlapping claims on the Bawang Assan and Dudong seats, which were traditionally allocated to SUPP prior to the direct candidate move of the last polls, with PDP making its presence felt in both areas.

PDP Bawang Assan Youth chief Joshua Ting has been seen moving on the ground in the constituency, while in Dudong PDP president Datuk Sri Tiong King Sing has been active.

Analysts keeping tabs on the situation believe GPS would only field direct candidates should there continue to be a real stalemate with no final solution.

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University of Malaya socio-political analyst Assoc Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said this is because the direct candidate strategy is only a temporary solution.

“It cannot resolve the issue of overlap (of seats) in the long run. Therefore, what is important is that the party that wants to contest needs to be more realistic with the situation of the constituency to be grabbed.

“For example, the measure of the total membership of the party in the constituency to be contested should be the main measure,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted today.

Similarly, the influence of candidates who will contest must really be proven, he suggested.

“Meaning, SUPP, PDP, PBB, and PRS need to be more realistic and not just want to contest but there is no solid guarantee to win big,” he opined.

For Datuk Felician Teo, the traditional formula for seat distribution should continue.

“The party who was previously allocated the seat will by convention be allowed to defend the same seat.

“This is straightforward when it comes to incumbents contesting the same seat under a component party. However, the formula becomes blur when some incumbents lost in the last election or have since crossed over to another party within GPS,” he said.

In the case of Dudong, he opined the direct candidate strategy would not work as there is no GPS incumbent vying for the seat.

“GPS will have to stick to the traditional formula or allow component parties to swap seats to resolve the matter,” he said.

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As for Bawang Assan, Teo suggested the traditional seat allocation formula should apply.

“His (Wong’s) opponent from GPS should be from SUPP,” he said. — Borneo Post Online


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