Single party not the answer


Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

KUCHING: Socio-political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi thinks that, in the context of Malaysian politics, a coalition of various parties is better than a single multiracial party.

He opined it would not be good for their supporters to be overly dependent on a single party. His belief is based on the old saying that it would be a bad idea for one to put all eggs in one basket.

Awang Azman was reacting to the comment of PRS president Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing that PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP should become one single multiracial party instead of coming together in a coalition of parties.

Recently these former Sarawak BN components decided to set up a coalition called Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) but its formation is still at an infancy stage, requiring fine-tuning, administration and legality.

“Just imagine that a leadership crisis suddenly besieged one party in the coalition. Let’s say that party is PRS. A leadership crisis occurs between PRS president and his deputy and this will cause members to lose direction.

“Some will join PKR, some DAP and some simply do not know what to do next. So if this scenario is the fate of the single multiracial (party) then I am sure all members are divided in one single moment. The ultimate effect of this kind of division is the single party will lose many seats to its opposition,” said Awang Azman, who is attached to the Socio-culture Department of Universiti Malaya (UM).

“In a single multiracial (party) where will be the positions of the presidents of PRS, SUPP and PDP? I am sure they do not want to be holding ordinary supreme council positions (in the single entity) in view of the fact that PBB leaders want the top post by virtue of their performance which is far better than PRS, SUPP and/or PDP.”

He said he was also suspicious of PRS for coming up with the idea of a single multiracial party.

One of the factors for his suspicion is that BN Sarawak lost some seats in the last parliamentary election due to the wrong choice of candidates, particularly those of PRS.

This factor added to the lack of transparency in candidacy selection and impact of the issues relating to delay in settling NCR land and slow infrastructure development, he said.

However, he did not believe 1MDB scandal had major impact on the parliamentary election result in Sarawak except in areas where Chinese voters are the majority.

He said PBB itself is already a multiracial party with various ethnicities under the Bumiputera category.

Hence, he recommended PRS to take up more members from various races like the Malays and Chinese – a style very much like PDP – so that PRS too can expand further and benefit more people.

Awang Azman said he is all for GPS to invite all Sarawak-based parties so that it would not be seen as an exclusive club.

“For it (GPS) to become relevant in the long run in Sarawak it should include all Sarawak-based parties,” he added.

He also said unity in diversity concept in all four components of GPS will contribute to its strength for it to remain relevant.

GPS has to be competitive too by encouraging or grooming new leadership, he pointed out.

A competitive party would eliminate recycled politicians and discourage emergence of new parties to be formed by dissatisfied current leaders and grassroots leaders, he added.

On Sunday, Masing told a press conference that a single multiracial party comprising components in the newly formed GPS must be set up before the next state election by 2021.

He cautioned that GPS could face problems come the state election if its structure mimics that of Barisan Nasional (BN), the coalition they chose to leave following a meeting last Tuesday.

PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) supreme council in its Sunday meeting agreed to the formation of this single multiracial party and at the same time they also put up certain conditions for this proposed entity to be effective.

The conditions include restructuring the state civil service to reflect the social fabric of Sarawak society and to increase allocations to non-Muslim religions.

In a veiled reference to PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu), Masing said there must not be a dominant party in GPS having more than half of the ADUNs (assemblymen) in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).

PBB currently holds 46 out of the 82 seats in the DUN. In the 2016 state election, it won 40 seats but later was joined by five direct BN candidates. A direct BN candidate then announced this year that he had joined PBB.

“BN lost (in the recent 14th general Election) not because BN was bad, but it was too much dominated by Umno. Smaller parties are not being heard, and opinions and cries not being listened to. Our boys in PRS are not happy with this.

“Therefore GPS must allow other parties to be involved and have their say. There should be no parties dominant in that association. Dominance meaning (a party) should not have more than half of numbers of ADUNs in the DUN,” said Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister.

PBB apparently does not agree to PRS’ suggestion while the other two components of GPS –SUPP (Sarawak United People’s Party) and PDP (Progressive Democratic Party) – kept mum over it, prompting Masing to speculate that they could swing either way.