Pakatan suffers setback in Sarawak while 2 peninsula parties gain toehold

Desmond Davidson

Pakatan Harapan has failed to match its 2018 performance in Sarawak yesterday's general election. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 20, 2022.

AS widely predicted, Pakatan Harapan last night failed to match its 2018 election performance in Sarawak.

It had to settle for only six seats – five DAP and one PKR.

It was four short of the 10 seats it won in the historic 2018 election which saw the collapse of the powerful Barisan Nasional coalition under the weight of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal.

The 10 seats it snagged were Bandar Kuching, Stampin, Mas Gading, Lanang, Sibu, Sarikei, Puncak Borneo, Saratok, Selangau and Miri.

For Amanah, the third and most inconspicuous member of Sarawak PH, it was a repeat of the humiliation the party suffered in the 2021 state elections.

After the 2018 polls, Sarawak PH’s ranks further swelled with the admission of two winning Independents Larry Sng (Julau) and Jugah Muyang (Lubok Antu).

The PH honeymoon, however, did not last long and neither did its federal government.

PH lost Puncak Borneo, Saratok and Selangau when PKR sacked its three MPs for their roles in the plan to oust the federal government.

Larry and Jugah were to abandon PKR not long afterwards.

Fast forward to yesterday. Pundits had predicted PH would not only fail to win back those three seats in 2022, but DAP also lose some of its Chinese urban seats.

But DAP lost only Sarikei in central Sarawak.

While PH’s political fortunes continue to head south, two peninsular-based parties making their electoral debut in Sarawak – Bersatu of Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) – managed to gain a toehold in the state.

Former PKR man turned PN candidate Ali Biju kept his Saratok seat by fending off GPS’ Giendam Jonathan Tait and PH’s Ibil Jaya.

Ali, who was deputy minister of energy and natural resources , polled 19,223 votes to Giendam’s 10,397.

Ibil lost his deposit.

PN, whose decision to field four candidates in Sarawak had infuriated GPS chairman Abang Johari Openg, was also unsuccessful in Lubok Antu, where incumbent Jugah Muyang was ousted in a close fight, Bintulu, and Batang Lupar, where its sole PAS candidate Hamdan Sani failed miserably.

Duke Janteng had the unenviable task of ousting GPS-Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) strongman and five-term Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing.

DAP’s Chiew Chan Yew was Tiong’s closest rival but even the combined votes of Chiew (21,287) and Duke (5,650) could not match his winning 43,455 votes.

Islamist party PAS fielded one candidate under the PN banner and lost to notch yet another wipeout in Sarawak.

Abang Johari, in his victory address last night, said GPS win was well within target.

The four-party coalition racked up 22 seats, four more than the 18 it scored in 2018.

It is also expected to win the yet-to-be called contest for Baram.

Voting in 11 polling centres in Baram had to be suspended due to transport failure.

Abang Johari said the count so far put the GPS incumbent “way ahead”. – November 20, 2022.

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