Tipping the balance

RECENTLY, I met a foreign journalist who was in Sarawak for more than two weeks, travelling around the state and interviewing people in urban and rural areas.

He was one of many who are in Malaysia to cover the 14th general election.

He called me for a chat over coffee when he was in Miri and pointed out that Sarawakians were the “kingmakers” now.

“Putrajaya is depending on the 31 parliamentary seats from Sarawak,” he commented.

The journalist was right in his observation that this state looks set to be the national kingmaker.

The fight in the peninsular states and Sabah is intense, bringing new levels of anxiety to Barisan Nasional component parties.

In the event there is no clear-cut winner between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan in the peninsula, the 31 seats in Sarawak will be decisive in determining who forms the next Federal Government.

Sarawak has found itself in a position that it has probably not anticipated — playing a pivotal role in national politics due to the developments in the peninsula.

Sarawak Barisan had 25 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat last term, meaning that it was second only to Umno in terms of having the most number of MPs.

Over the past two months, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has visited Sarawak several times.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has also made frequent trips here.

These visits by Najib and Dr Ahmad Zahid gave state leaders the chance to negotiate for more development funding from Putrajaya.

Najib spoke of giving more power to Sarawak for administrative matters and Sarawak must use this growing influence at the federal level to push for more autonomy in education, financial control of oil and gas resources, religion, housing policies and transportation.

State voters are in a prime position to make sure Sarawak gets a better deal and is recognised as an equal partner with the peninsula.

Sarawak Barisan said it was confident of retaining the 25 parliamentary seats it won in 2013 and win back at least three Opposition-held seats on May 9.

Pakatan Harapan is hoping to win at least 15 parliamentary seats in Sarawak to boost its chances of taking over Putrajaya.

Sarawakians are aggressively being wooed by both sides, and this time, they may not only be holding the state, but Malaysia’s future, in their hands.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2018/05/04/tipping-the-balance-putrajaya-banking-on-sarawak-barisan-for-strong-showing-in-election/