Sarawak BN tight-lipped over next move till new Federal Government formed

KUCHING: Sarawak Barisan Nasional remained tight-lipped over their next move until a new Federal Government has been formed.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state ruling coalition is in no rush to make a decision until a new prime minister has been sworn in.

Abang Johari, who is also Sarawak Barisan chairman, was scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday morning (May 10) at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here on the state government’s stand with the newly elected Federal Government.

However, the press conference was called off after the Palace (in Kuala Lumpur) confirmed that the swearing in of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan’s chosen candidate for prime minister, will not be taking place yet.

“I have no comment until the (Federal) Government is formed. Furthermore, I have my autonomy,” he told reporters when met at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here.

Sarawak, long-time considered a "fixed deposit" of seats for Barisan, suffered unexpected defeats in GE14, losing 12 of the state’s 31 parliamentary constituencies.

Barisan failed to wrest six urban Chinese-majority seats from Pakatan Harapan in Bandar Kuching, Stampin, Sarikei, Sibu, Lanang and Miri.

Barisan also lost rural seats in Mas Gading, Puncak Borneo, Saratok and Selangau, to Pakatan and to two Independent candidates in Lubok Antu and Julau.

Pakatan has promised “new deals” for Sarawak on the devolution of power and restoration of the state’s rights if it captures Putrajaya after GE14.

Pakatan also pledged to give 50% of all taxes collected in the state, as well as 20% oil and gas royalties.

The deal also included greater autonomy in education, healthcare and fiscal matters, as well as restoration of Sarawak’s status to one of three territories in the Federation of Malaysia, instead of its current status as one of 13 states in the country.

In the 2013 general election, Sarawak contributed 25 members of parliament to the Barisan government.

Barisan controls the Sarawak state assembly, having won 72 of the 82 seats in the 2016 state polls. In GE14, only parliamentary seats were contested in Sarawak.

Around midnight of May 9, Sarawak Barisan leaders called off their planned conference at the old Sarawak legislative assembly building with national Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, after the results of the state’s 31 parliamentary constituencies were known.

At the time, Barisan was also trailing Pakatan in the race to Putrajaya.

Abang Johari said the state Barisan will carry out a post mortem on their somewhat poor performance in GE14, considering that the coalition had been confident of winning 28 parliamentary seats.



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