Why tinker with the seat allocations, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu asks

Desmond Davidson

Abdul Karim Hamzah said the four-party state ruling coalition, which PBB is the lynchpin, had already worked out a “good equilibrium” in the allocation of seats that needs no major tinkering. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 24, 2024.

WHY fix it when it’s not broken?

That was the question Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice president Abdul Karim Hamzah asked Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Tiong King Sing today over his suggestion that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) get rid of allocating seats to be contested in elections based on which party traditionally contested them.

Why rock the boat? Karim asked.

Describing what Tiong espoused as “a very strong statement”, Karim, who is also Sarawak’s minister for tourism, creative industry and performing arts said the four-party state ruling coalition, which PBB is the lynchpin, had already worked out a “good equilibrium” in the allocation of seats that needs no major tinkering.

The other two parties in the GPS coalition are Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

GPS holds 79 of the legislative assembly’s 82 seats with the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) having two seats via DAP and a pro-GPS independent holding one.

The present arrangement, Karim pointed out, had made Sarawak a very politically stable state that is the envy of many other states in the country.

“We already have a very good system and Tiong should just leave it that way, he said.

Tiong, who is also the federal tourism minister, made the suggestion at a pre-Gawai gathering at a Skrang longhouse in Betong division, some 150km from Kuching, on Wednesday.

He said the allocation should be determined by the electorate, not by coalition leaders.

Sarawak, since it became a member of the Barisan Nasional (BN) - then later from 2018 as a GPS coalition - had predetermined which party gets what seats to be contested in state and federal elections based on which party traditionally contested them.

Karim admitted he is unsure why Tiong is raising the issue.

But he said if Tiong sees it from the perspective of democracy, “ sure nobody, no party can say that this is my seat, that is my seat”.

“But if the GPS component party is strong in that particular seat, why (have an open fight for it).”

GPS could just be opening the floodgates, Karim said, which could leave the coalition fractured and vulnerable .

“We could probably lose control of the situation and give opportunity to opposition parties.”

Karim also said to have an open contest for the seats could backfire on Tiong and PDP.

“(The contests) could go either way. If he really wants it that way, we (the other GPS component parties) could similarly contest in PDP allocated areas.

“The moment GPS goes for an open contest, we’ll be in your (PDP) backyard.”

Karim said if Tiong is not careful and miscalculates, “PDP could be wiped out” in these contests. – May 24, 2024.

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