KUCHING, 20 Dec 2010: Sarawak Barisan Nasional is ready to go with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak if the latter decides on joint polls.
Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said the state's four-party coalition of Pesaka Bersatu Bumiputera (PBB), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Democratic Progressive Party (SPDP), would accommodate any request that Najib has.
"If Najib is inspired to hold the election soon, it is probably better for both parties to synchronise it with the state polls,” he said.
Taib has todate not announced the state polls which must be held before June 2011. He sparked rumours of a December polls when on his return from Mecca, he said "he was inspired".
But Kuching-based political analyst, Stanley Bye Kadam Kia, once said Taib was unlikely to hold polls before early April because March 26 was Taib's 30th anniversary as chief minister.
"Also, April is a month of rejuvenation. The weather in Sarawak at this time of the year is favourable for campaigning and, above all, it is also a time of celebration for the BN people," Kidam had said.
At stake in Sarawak are 71 state seats, 63 of which are held by the state BN coalition. PBB holds 35 seats, SUPP 12 (after Engkilili's Johnical Rayong was accepted into BN fold and as an SUPP member) and both PRS and SPDP have eight each.
The opposition in Sarawak hold the rest. Sarawak DAP holds six while PKR and an independent have one each. At parliamentary level, BN holds 30 of the 31 seats. DAP wrested the Sibu parliamentary seat from SUPP in the May by-election.
An empowered opposition in Sarawak is confident of creating a bigger dent in the BN shield. Already speculations are rife that DAP is confident of winning 15 seats in the coming polls which Taib is yet to announce.
Several online polls run by the local media show that PKR will win more than “one seat” this time round.
PKR has been in the frontline campaigning on native and native customary land (NCR) issues.
No level field
State chairman Baru Bian, who is also a well-known lawyer on NCR matters, has said that on a “level field” PKR stood a very good chance of winning.
But he added that it was unlikely to be so. Bian is expecting BN to sweep in at the final hour with the combined force of money, machinery and media.
Meanwhile, Taib has to put up with the opposition issues ranging from the Bakun Dam to NCR lands and his personal and family accumulated wealth.
The impoundment of the RM7 billion Bakun Dam continues to be a thorn in Taib's side as does the state's proposal for 12 more dams under the Sarawak economic corridor plan.
Opposition and activists are against these projects which they alleged have already had adverse effects on the state's ecology.
The recent logjam ecological disaster along 250km of the Rajang River is “only one such incident”, noted an activitist.
"These are unnecessary projects that affect native lives and livelihood. The logjam disaster simply crippled the lives of the communities dependent on the river.
"Bakun Dam has displaced the native community. It has been almost 15 years and many issues including compensations are still unsettled," the activist said.
Thus far, Taib has not commented on the numerous police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Corruption Commission (MACC) reports made against him over allegation of widespread corruption.
For now, he appears to be preoccupied with a government proposal to publish a White Paper aimed at gagging the opposition and stiffling its activities.
Claiming that the White Paper was a preventive and not a punitve measure, he, however, said that it could be implemented anytime – before or after the state election.
Earlier, Taib had directed PBB to set up a unit to monitor all the exposé on the Internet following a series of explosing character-crippling revelations by online news portal Sarawak Report's investigating team.
Taib's response, as shown on YouTube, to this was to tell a longhouse audience that he was indeed wealthy and left it to his family to look after the wealth. Free Malaysia Today