Can Pakatan Rakyat rise to the occasion to decide the political future not only of Sabah and Sarawak but the whole of Malaysia in the 14GE?

In my media statements in the past three days, I have argued the case, backed with facts and figures, that the three Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS achieved their best parliamentary and state assembly results during their tripartite co-operation in the 1999, 2008 and 2013 General Elections.

This is not only the case for the Pakatan Rakyat parties in Peninsular Malaysia (which was the focus of my statements in the past three days), the same effect applies also in Sabah and Sarawak underlining the benefits of such co-operation among the Pakatan Rakyat parties.

Pakatan Raykat faces two unique challenges in Sabah and Sarawak.

The first is the accusation that the component parties, DAP, PKR and PAS are not ‘local’ parties but are merely extensions of the ‘main’ parties which are based in Peninsular Malaysia and are guilty of being peninsular-centric. As such, they cannot adequately represent the interests of Sabah and Sarawak.

The second is the much shorter history of cooperation among opposition parties, including between DAP, PKR and PAS in both states.

While both these challenges have not be totally overcome, the strengthening of cooperation within the Pakatan Rakyat parties have addressed some of these concerns and have been reflected in the election results.

As recent as 2008, the opposition could not avoid three-cornered fights in Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2008, both DAP and PKR contested in the urban seats of Stampin and Sibu. Stampin was an especially costly three-cornered fight because the opposition could have won that seat in a straight fight.

In Sabah, the situation was even worse. Of the 5 parliament seats which DAP contested in, 4 were three-cornered fights featuring PKR. Of the 10 state seats which DAP contested in, 9 were three-cornered fights featuring PKR.

The opposition was fortunate to win one parliament and one state seat despite these three-cornered fights but presumably, more seats could have been won with greater opposition cooperation.

After the formation of Pakatan Rakyat post GE2008, the situation improved and greater Pakatan cooperation bore fruit.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, Pakatan avoided three-cornered contests in all seats, with PKR contesting in 49, DAP in 15 and PAS in 5. Pakatan delivered 15 seats (DAP with 12 and PKR with 3) and swept nearly all of the urban seats.

The cooperation and performance of Pakatan Rakyat would pave the way for GE2013 where the opposition coalition in Sarawak bettered its performance of one parliament seat in GE2008 to 6 parliament seats (5 for DAP and 1 for PKR).

Although we were disappointed in not being able to capture non-urban seats, this was nonetheless a breakthrough performance in a state that had been dominated by the BN for such a long period of time.

In Sabah, Pakatan was able to avoid three-cornered fights in all seats but one (Labuan was contested by PKR and PAS).

At the parliamentary level, PKR contested in 20 seats, DAP in 4 and PAS in 3. At the state level, PKR contested in 43, DAP in 8 and PAS in 9.

Again, the results were encouraging. Pakatan won a total of 11 state seats, with PKR winning 7 and DAP winning 4, a marked improvement from the single state seat it won in 2008.

What is more encouraging is the fact that 6 out of the 11 seats are in Bumiputera majority areas.

At the same time, Pakatan has also put to rest the notion that we are less popular or credible than the Sabah and Sarawak based opposition parties.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, local party SNAP contested in 26 state seats, 25 of which featured contests against PKR. Not only did the SNAP candidates win fewer votes compared to the PKR candidates in all of these 25 state seats, SNAP candidates also lost their deposits in 24 of these seats.

In Sabah, in GE2013, STAR, led by Jeffrey Kitingan contested in 21 parliament seats, all of which featured Pakatan parties (PKR with 16, DAP with 3, PAS with 2). With the exception of Keningau, which is Jeffrey Kitingan’s stronghold, the Pakatan candidates won more votes than the STAR candidates in all the other 20 parliament seats.

SAPP, a Sabah based party, contested in 8 parliament seats and failed to win more votes than Pakatan in all 8 seats.
This pattern was repeated at the state level in Sabah.

STAR contested in 49 out of 60 state seats and won fewer votes than Pakatan candidates in 46 out of the 49 state seats.

SAPP contested in 41 out of 60 state seats and won fewer votes than Pakatan candidates in 40 out of 41 of these seats. One of these losses came in the Inanam state seat where the former Sepanggar MP, Eric Majimbun failed to win enough votes to prevent PKR’s Roland Chia from winning this seat. Another came in the Likas state seat, where SAPP president, Yong Teck Lee, lost out to DAP’s Wong Hong Jun.

The May 5, 2013 general elections is nonetheless an expensive lesson for the Opposition in Sabah, for the Barisan Nasional would have lost in another four parliamentary and eight state assembly seats if not for split votes among the Opposition candidates.

The four parliamentary constituencies are P. 168 Kota Marudu, P. 180 Keningau, P. 181 Tenom and P. 182 Pensiangan while the eight state assembly seats are No. 11 Kiulu, N.29 Kundasang, N. 31 Paginatan, N. 32 Tambunan, N. 34 Liawan, No. 35 Melalap, N.38 Nabawan and N.45 Elopura.

In fact, an united Opposition could have brought the total score of Parliamentary and State Assembly seats for the Opposition in Sabah to 11 Parliamentary (I.e the present three, plus four lost due to split votes and another four, viz. P. 177 Beaufort, P. 170 Tuaran, P. 179 Ranau and P. 169 Kota Belud) and 26 State Assembly seats (i.e. the present 12, plus eight lost due to split votes and another six, viz. N.2 Tanjong Kapor, N.30 Karanaan, N.36 Kemabong, N. 37 Sook, N. 44 Karamunting and N.46 Tanjong Papat).

The results in Sabah and Sarawak clearly shows that voters in both states want a credible coalition that can provide a strong opposition in both state and parliament and is also a credible option to form the government at the federal as well as state levels.

The purely local parties in Sabah and Sarawak cannot provide this credible option. Pakatan, with the combined strength of the individual component parties, is the only credible option in both states.

The challenges remain massive in Sabah and Sarawak for Pakatan.

Although we have made inroads, the rural areas still are very much BN’s stronghold where money politics reign supreme.
The challenges provided by defections, as we have seen lately in Sabah and Sarawak, are also part and parcel of the political landscape that Pakatan needs to overcome.

But there is no doubt whatsoever that every party in Pakatan has benefitted from being in the coalition and that the desired results can only be achieved by working together and strengthening Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah and Sarawak.

The political future of Malaysia in the 14GE will hinge on Sabah and Sarawak. This is the measure of the political challenge facing Pakatan.

Can Pakatan Rakyat rise to the occasion to decide the political future not only of Sabah and Sarawak but the whole of Malaysia in the 14GE?

  1. #1 by john on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 10:39 am

    Pakatan Rakyat has to work harder with concrete plans and no washy-wishy comes G14.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 11:31 am

    PR can only get better in Sabah & Sarawak, that is a given. BUT dependencies and dysfunctionalities are very very had thing and it takes a lot to overcome it.

    Its actually amazing to hear local politician in Sabah & Sarawak actually switching their allegiance back to UMNO/BN when the trend is not in UMNO/BN favour. How much can they extract given that they can only slow the march of PR? That these flip-floppers can’t see their illogic of what they do shows how dysfunctional Sabah & Sarawak really is.

    PR already has huge challenges making progress against UMNO/BN in Sabah & Sarawak which they are suceeding but to have to also take on the challenge of local dysfunctionalities, just mean that Sabah & Sarawak can’t be dependent on too much to carry the opposition into Putrajaya.

    Ultimately change in Putrajaya must be a Malaysian thing – that means doing well in Sabah & Sarawak but also means PAS and PKR doing well in UMNO’s heartland. Only that combination can see PR making it..

  3. #3 by omeqiu on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 12:17 pm

    To Opposition Party: Can he be sued?
    To BN Party: When is he to be appointed Chairman of a GLC?

  4. #4 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 10:43 pm

    Pakatan Rakyat, ayuh teruskan perjuanganmu…

  5. #5 by sasha pranth on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 3:41 pm

    Pakatan has a long way to go before they can secure the trust of the East Malaysians. Pakatan has a West-Malaysian mindset… the ‘alliance’ is fractured – differing ideologies… internal power struggles… a shady de facto leader… and open fighting in the media. It is a tough decision for any East Malaysian… pick the devil we know or the devil we don’t.

  6. #6 by Layla Sujang on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 6:27 pm

    DAP has been in Sarawak for a long time, so people know them. But then not all would vote DAP either.. The only reason people voted for DAP because the option they have is close to none!
    Forget about PAS in Sarawak. They should just focus in Semenanjung.
    PKR – as long as Anwar & Azmin are still leading the pact, most Sarawakians will still be in doubt.

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