Monday, July 19, 2010

Sarawak Pakatan pledges straight fights with BN

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 (TMI) — The Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties have pledged to ensure straight fights with Barisan Nasional (BN) in the upcoming state election, which must be called by July next year.

The fragile coalition of four parties — DAP, PAS, PKR and local opposition party SNAP — made the decision at the inaugural meeting of its leadership council last night.

Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng told The Malaysian Insider that the state PR is also aiming to takeover the government led by Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who has been in power for almost three decades.

“The leadership council also decided to topple BN in the state election, so we are aiming for at least 50 per cent of the seats,” said Wong.

“At the very least we must deny the two-thirds majority,” he added.

The current term of the Sarawak assembly expires in July next year and the government is expected to call for state election by the end of this year.

The opposition collectively won nine seats in 2006, its best performance ever due to the increase in land premium payments and oil price hikes, which took place just two months before the state assembly was dissolved.

DAP currently controls six seats in the 71-member state assembly while PKR has one. Two independents Gabriel Adit and Johnichal Rayong, who won in 2006, have joined the new party, Parti Cinta Malaysia and BN’s SUPP respectively.

When asked if the council has identified a suitable candidate to be offered as replacement for Taib, Wong said the matter would be decided after the state election.

“We have sufficient candidates to be offered as CM, but we leave that after the election,” he said.

Wong also said that PR would come out with a common manifesto for the election to portray its seriousness in taking over the government.

“We are contesting one-to-one, so we will come out with a common manifesto and common theme in the election,” he said.

Wong added that the manifesto would be finalised by the state PR council after consulting each party.

On whether DAP has resolved overlapping claims on five disputed seats with PKR, Wong said the matter would be discussed by the parties’ subcommittee on seat allocation.

“We did not discuss the seat allocation last night, but it will be handled by the subcommittees, which will meet soon,” said Wong.

Both parties are in a tussle over which party gets to field candidates in at least five state constituencies in urban areas which are considered opposition strongholds.

In Election 2008, the two parties could not come to an agreement and were caught in a three-cornered fight against BN in the two federal constituencies of Stampin and Sibu. Both were won by the ruling coalition.

Both parties have met three times since early this year over the overlapping seats but have yet to reach an agreement.

Separately, PKR is also in negotiations with PAS and SNAP, over several rural seats with insignificant opposition presence.

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