Big BN win expected in Sarawak polls, says political analyst

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File photo: The Save Rivers group has been active. From left: Peter Kallang (Save Rivers chairperson), Abun Sui (Gasak president), Philip Jau (BPAC chairperson), and Khamsul (Forestry Department in Miri) receiving a memorandum

A political scientist believes Barisan Nasional will keep its two-thirds majority in the Sarawak State Assembly in the next state elections, reports Desmond Davidson.

The opposition will fail to wrest Sarawak from Barisan Nasional in the upcoming state election, and PKR state chairman Baru Bian stands to lose his Ba Kelalan state seat, if the study on the voting trend is anything to go by.

Political scientist Dr Faisal Hazis said statistical studies of the voting trend based on the last general election by Merdeka Centre showed the opposition could at most win only three rural seats as voters in Sarawak bucked the national trend and were seen to have swung back to the BN.

The DAP would keep all the 12 seats they won in the 2011 state election, PKR could be decimated, Pas would still be where they are now – without much support and BN would sweep everything else, the senior lecturer at the Political Studies Department of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said.

In the 2011 state election, the BN won 55 seats to keep their two-thirds majority intact while the opposition won 15 seats – DAP 12 and PKR 3, with an independent candidate winning one.

Faisal said for the opposition to win the state election, they needed to engineer a vote swing of more than 15 per cent, a feat he said would be “quite impossible” since the state opposition is “in shambles”.

A 15 per cent swing would give the opposition an additional 22 seats and, added to the 13 they “won” in the “2013 state election”, would give them a total of 35 seats in the 71-seat assembly.

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Faisal said even a 10 per cent swing – which would give the opposition an additional 16 seats for a total of 29, to deny the BN the two-thirds majority – was already an impossible feat. It should be noted, however, that a swing of 13 per cent had been achieved before – in the 1987 snap election.

“If that happens, it would be a big feat for the opposition. It’s difficult and quite impossible though.”

The Merdeka Centre study also showed the opposition could at most win only three rural seats in the state election – the Chinese-majority seats of Meradong and Dudong currently held by the DAP, and the Dayak majority seat of Telang Usan in Baram currently held by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu.

Telang Usan is lost because of the proposal to build the Baram hydroelectric dam, Faisal said in a public talk, “Beyond Kliktivism: Act or Accept” in Kuching last night.

The talk was organised by a Sarawak NGO, Rise of Sarawak Effort (Rose).

Faisal said the “loss” of Telang Usan was not due to the work of PKR.

“It’s the success story of the Save Rivers (another Sarawak NGO) and a strong message from the people that they don’t want the dams.

“PKR didn’t do much in Baram but Save Rivers did a lot and they have been very vocal in the last two to three elections.

“PKR would be riding on the wave of change Save Rivers had initiated.”

He said the reasons why the opposition would fail yet again in Sarawak was due to their inability to challenge the power of incumbency, the strength of BN’s political patronage, a weak grassroots presence especially in rural areas, the inability to counter the BN with a clear message, particularly among Malay voters, and vote buying.

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With the shambles the opposition is currently in and Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s “populist policies and changes” since he took office in February last year, the stage appears set for a big BN win.

Source: themalaysianinsider.com

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