Tough act to bring political rivals together

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  • Thursday, 22 Feb 2018

The late Adenan (centre) had initiated efforts to bring UPP leaders like Wong (left) and SUPP’s Datuk Lee Kim Shin together. — filepic

DISCUSSIONS on seat allocation among Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties for the coming parliamentary elections that will coincide with the 14th general election is going to be a thorny affair.

There are still no concrete signs that new parties - Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) and United People’s Party (UPP) - will be allowed to negotiate seat allocations with the state Barisan Nasional to contest in any of the 31 parliamentary constituencies.

Despite Teras and UPP having declared themselves Barisan-friendly, three out of the four state Barisan component parties still refuse to talk with UPP and Teras.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) which make up the state Barisan together with Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), are still objecting to any move to invite Teras and UPP for talks on seats.

This is because UPP is a breakaway faction formed by disgruntled former SUPP leaders while Teras was started by former PDP leaders.

A senior Barisan leader told StarMetro that PBB top leaders are in favour of bringing leaders of Teras and UPP to the negotiation table in the spirit of a Barisan Plus formula (Barisan plus Teras and UPP outside the coalition).

However, only PBB is keen to negotiate with Teras and UPP.

PDP, SUPP and PRS will not agree to discuss with either Teras or UPP and PBB cannot initiate any discussions without the parties’ approval.

PDP, SUPP and PRS leaders had already shot down the BN Plus formula advocated by then state Barisan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Adenan Satem when he was Sarawak Chief Minister in 2016.

Adenan, who was also PBB president, passed away on Jan 11, 2017, and was replaced by Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Abang Johari has also said he wants to see cooperation between UPP and SUPP as well as PDP and Teras.

But SUPP and PDP leaders are openly against the BN Plus formula which was proposed by the late Adenan to accommodate UPP and Teras which had declared themselves Barisan-friendly.

Adenan had even given UPP president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and Teras president Tan Sri William Mawan senior posts in the state cabinet.

UPP was formed by Wong and a group of former SUPP leaders while Teras was formed by Mawan and former PDP leaders.

PDP, SUPP and PRS have repeatedly objected to Barisan having any ties with UPP and Teras.

And since traditionally any major decision in Barisan must receive the support of every component party, the BN Plus concept in Sarawak is not possible without major concessions by SUPP and PDP.

Any move by PBB or Abang Johari to accommodate former Barisan leaders to allow them to become partners and contest as direct candidates parliamentary would make the coalition look weak, opined a senior politician.

Such a move could encourage rebellion within component parties, he pointed out.

It looks like Abang Johari may face difficulties in his attempts to accommodate both UPP and Teras in the coming polls.

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