JOSTLING among political parties for the right to contest in “hot constituencies” for the next state elections is gaining momentum throughout Sarawak.
As the state braces itself for the possibility of an early 12th state polls, aspiring candidates from political parties on both side of the divide are working overtime trying to establish their rights over the 82 state constituencies that will be up for grabs.
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties have already fixed a date to negotiate the seat distribution, said Sarawak DAP deputy chairman Chiew Ching Sing.
“On Feb 23, we will start discussing which party will contest in which state constituency.
“The Sarawak PH parties of Sarawak DAP, Sarawak PKR, Sarawak Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Sarawak will be part of the talks.
“We must be ready if indeed an early state polls is called before the mid-2021 deadline,” said Chiew, who is Tanjung Batu assemblyman.
The ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) component parties in this state have started “muscling” in on each other for the right to contest in state constituencies where GPS is favoured to win in the coming polls, which could be held in March or April next year.
In the northern Sarawak constituency of Bekenu, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) are competing for the right to field a candidate under the GPS ticket.
PDP had claimed that PBB had usurped Bekenu from PDP in the past state election. Both PBB and PDP are GPS coalition partners along with Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).
They were all former Barisan Nasional components who exited the coalition to form GPS.
Bekenu has always been a seat contested by the PDP. Before the 2006 state elections, Bekenu was part of the Lambir state constituency.
When the Bekenu seat was split from Lambir, PDP obtained approval from the BN to contest in Bekenu. They won the seat in the 2006 and 2011 state polls.
In 2015, PBB took over Bekenu and its candidate Rosey Yunus won. PDP now wants Bekenu back along with several other state seats like Marudi.
Under the previous BN principle, a constituency cannot be switched to another component party without consensus from the other BN parties.
PDP has not agreed to give up any seat to the other component parties to contest in this next state polls.
PDP is also in a tussle with fellow BN component PRS for the right to contest the new seat of Samalaju.
Samalaju is one of the 11 new state constituencies delineated by the Election Commission in late 2015.
PDP and PBB are both also eyeing the northern seat of Mulu where the latter is now the incumbent. Both parties are actively campaigning for ground support to stake their claim.
As for the opposition, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is eyeing Senadin, but DAP and PAS have also staked their claim to that seat.
PKR and DAP are also keen on Piasau, Pujut and Bekenu, which are also considered hot seats.