By Emma Victoria
AS speculation is rife that the 12th Sarawak state election will be called anytime soon, political parties are gearing up and entering the final stage – seat allocation discussions.
Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing started by calling on his partners in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) not to cling on to seats simply because they were allocated to them in the past.
This is because the Bintulu MP is eyeing a few traditional seats belonging to Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), including Bawang Assan and Dudong.
It is also an open secret that Tiong is keen to contest in Bawang Assan, to challenge the six-term incumbent Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who is also the Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) President.
However, to do so, PDP will need the consensus from all component parties and an agreement on which seats are to be swapped.
With only three state seats in the bag, namely, Tasik Biru, Meluan and Marudi – obviously, PDP does not have much to offer and they have not agreed to give up any seats either.
In the previous state election, the party was given only five seats to contest after three of its traditional seats – Batu Danau, Bekenu and Pakan were allocated to BN direct candidates.
The three leaders, who were the breakaway from PDP, managed to retain the seats and had since joined Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) instead, making the dominant party even stronger.
In several occasions, Tiong had expressed dissatisfaction over the seat allocation under the then BN as his party was sidelined.
He had appealed to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg to return the seats to his party but the latter has not responded to the request.
Meanwhile, a SUPP source said the party had no choice but to give up their seats to accommodate the BN-direct candidates (SUPP breakaway) in the last state polls.
“So, we are not doing it again (giving way to others) this time around. We will contest in all 20 traditional seats,” said the source.
GPS, the then BN won 72 out of 82 state seats in the last Sarawak election in 2016.
The coalition was left with 68 after PSB decided they were no longer “GPS-friendly”.
Although there was an unwritten agreement that PBB would not control more than half of the state seats to ensure powering-sharing would remain, the party currently has 47 seats.
Meanwhile, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has 11; SUPP (7) and PDP (3).