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7:09pm 07/12/2021
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Sarawak election: a battle between Jack and the Giant

Sin Chew Daily

Nomination for the Sarawak election fell on Monday while polling will be on December 18.

In every way, this election looks like a battle between Jack and the Giant, albeit in a real world battle. Jack of the fairy tale cannot defeat the real world giant, GPS.

Before we dive into our main topic today, perhaps we should just take a good look at the election SOPs which are actually quite well thought and should probably serve as a benchmark for the next general election, if it were to be held next year before the pandemic ends.

Among the SOPs drawn up, only five most senior leaders from each political party are allowed to enter Sarawak, and candidates are barred from traveling beyond their constituencies to campaign for other candidates. Of all the 82 state constituencies, indoor ceramahs can only be held in 64 (due to low 4G coverage). Election-related personnel will have to take self RTK-Ag tests on their own expenses every two days, and of course, there are other operational details.

DAP’s deputy sec-gen Nga Kor Ming said the SOPs are unfavorable to Pakatan Harapan. Well, he may be right, but such a sympathy-buying tactic is not going to pay off for sure, and may even give the supporters a wrong impression that the party is ready to surrender even before the war is fought.

What we are more worried about DAP is that many “swing votes” may have to be lost if GE15 is held next year and “interstate campaigning” is banned.

As if that’s not enough, Anwar Ibrahim is making things worse, complaining openly about what appears to be an election his party hardly stands a winning chance: “Other PH component parties have grabbed the most competitive seats, leaving the unwinnable leftover seats for PKR.”

As a matter of fact, PH’s winning chances are not too bright for the 82 Sarawak seats, less so for the 28 seats contested by PKR this time.

As expected, the nomination outcome shows multi-cornered fights in all the constituencies. In view of a divided opposition fighting a powerful ruling coalition, there shouldn’t be much issue for the ruling GPS, which currently holds 67 of the 82 seats, to be back in power, for the simple reason the disadvantaged opposition has failed to reach a consensus to fight GPS one-on-one, hence multi-cornered fights in all seats.

Among the opposition parties, PSB and PH which have six and five seats respectively, will run in almost all the seats up for grabs, plus Sarawak Aspirasi and Parti Bumi Kenyalang joining the fray.

GPS chairman Abang Johari’s “Sarawak first” slogan makes the opposition’s calls for government change, independence and referendum all the more anemic and incapacitated.

Tough fights will be taking place in all the 82 seats, and one of them, Dudong, even sees an eight-cornered fight!

Meanwhile, multiple candidates will run in 12 Chinese-majority seats.

Based on the customary voting patterns of Sarawak voters in the past, the actual battle is fundamentally fought between the ruling GPS and the opposition PSB and PH, while the other contestants are poised to risk losing their deposits.

Unable to integrate among themselves in challenging the all-powerful GPS, the opposition parties will have to bear the consequences of thumping defeats from heavily diluted votes.

Let’s start with PH, to be honest, the coalition’s humiliating defeat in Melaka is both unexpected and demoralizing. Fighting a remotely winnable war in Sarawak will not boost the coalition any further.

If GPS scores a landslide win this time,the biggest contributor must have been BN-Umno, and the state election outcome is set to continue to bolster BN’s resources in the run-up to the 15th general election. As for Muhyiddin’s PN, it will likely be rendered irrelevant.

Whether you like it or not, BN is prepared to stage a grand comeback in GE15. Bear in mind that politicians are staunch followers of coattail effect, and a weakened PN hardly stands a chance at all!

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