Sarawak State Election (PRN 2021): Seats to Watch

The expectations of many analysts and the politicians themselves point to another land slide victory for the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), formerly the Barisan Nasional Sarawak Chapter. Landslide it may be, but the question is whether GPS can repeat its performance at the 2016 Sarawak State Election; with slight improvements or probably with some reversals in the outcome.

This State Election is not actually the duplicate of the 2016 election scenario. This time around many new issues come into play, hence it is hard to gauge the impact of these factors on each political coalition at this stage. Firstly, the theme play of Sarawak vs Malayan parties, might be favourable to GPS, but the sudden emergence of the well-funded Parti Sarawak Barsatu (PSB) led by Datuk Wong Soon Koh, the former Sarawak Finance Minister, adds to new uncertainties. After all PSB ran away with a few incumbents from GPS and PKR, thus having incumbency advantage in a few seats.

As for PKR, this election is likely to be a very difficult one to face. The party has imploded in the state with the defection of Baru Bian its state chief and the recent departure of his successor Larry Sng. PKR is really headless here. Even in the Peninsular, the party is beset with an uncertain future after the loss of the small, though crucial, Malay support it used to have before. As a matter of record, PKR or Pakatan Harapan only managed to get 7% Malay support at the recent Malacca State Election.

Back to the Sarawak State Election, In N.1 Opar, for instance, the GPS candidate is facing an uphill task. There he is contesting in a six cornered fight against Ranum ak. Mina, the incumbent who had jumped earlier to PSB. In addition there is a PKR candidate and three other candidates from mosquito parties to contend with in this area with 80% Bidayuh voters.

At N.11 Batu Lintang in Kuching city, PKR has to face its former incumbent See Chee How who had jumped ship to PSB. A stiff fight is expected involving PKR, PSB and GPS here, and it is possible any of the three contenders could end up the winner. N.11 has a total of over 28,000 voters of whom 86% are Chinese.

Deep in the interior at N.39 Krian, BERSATU already had a seat when Ali Biju the PKR incumbent defected earlier. Ali Biju is a two term incumbent and and therefore has gathered a large number of personal followers. Fortunately for GPS, Ali Biju has withdrawn from the race to maintain the political goodwill between BERSATU and GPS. There should be a good chance for GPS to capture this seat.

GPS has actually lost a few incumbents to PSB, when Wong Soon Koh founded his new party, which is a splinter of GPS partner SUPP. His group had earlier failed in its quest to be part of GPS caolition.

PSB has financial support of certain Timber groups in Sibu and therefore, argueably implicit support of the Sibu Chinese community too. It was not surprising to Sarawakians when he managed to get Tiong Thai King of N.52 Dudong into his fold. However, it was more surprising when YB Tiong suddenly announced his departure from PSB and urged his supporters to vote for GPS instead. Hence, given the anti parti Malaya sentiment today, GPS should have a good chance to win here. Dudong is a mixed seat with 54.2% Chinese voters, 36.8% Iban and 7.7% Malay/Melanau.

So far, we haven’t received any turn around announcement involving another PSB incumbent candidate Jonathan Rayong at N.33 Engklili. Rayong won the seat in the 2016 State Election on BN ticket and is apparently a popular candidate who could win again in this seat.

Finally, the PSB founder, Wong Soon Koh himself who will defend his seat N. 53 Bawang Assan. He will face a five cornered fight including from DAP and GPS in a seat with 55% Chinese, 38.8% Iban and 5.3% Malay/Melanau voters. PSB may pull thorough here.

As for smaller Peninsular Malaysia’s and new Sarawak parties, it is not expected for them to make any impact, except for PAS which has managed to establish quite a stable following at N.29 Beting Maro in the last two state elections , but nevertheless failed to win so far.

Other than the above seats to watch, there may be a few more less obvious seats that can go either way, but these will not affect the overall results.





Note: This article was earlier published on DAH IKHWAN BLOG.

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