Tuesday, October 20

Early state polls possible, but likelier to be in 2021 – Chong


Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING: Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen believes the next state election will most likely be called in 2021, but does not rule out the possibility it could take place in the second half of this year.

The Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said as far as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is concerned, there is no necessity for him to take chances by calling for an early election.

“The coming Sarawak state election would set a trend for the 15th general election. Although the next Sarawak state election is due by July 2021, a lot of people have predicted it to be called this year.

“Given this scenario, I believe the Sarawak state election will be called when it is due rather than earlier,” he said in an exclusive interview recently with The Borneo Post’s sister paper Oriental Daily.

Chong – also Democratic Action Party (DAP) state chairman – said the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition will face three possible outcomes, the first being maintaining the status quo as far as the number of seats it currently holds are concerned.

The second scenario is GPS losing over 10 seats but remaining in power, while the third possibility is they lose the election and are no longer in power, he added.

The Stampin MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman also noted the possibility of a big swing in Bumiputera votes, particularly among the Dayaks.

“Given the fact there are about 30 Dayak-majority seats in Sarawak, which is a significant number, such swing would have a deep impact on GPS,” he said.

In the 2011 state election, DAP won 12 seats while PH counterpart Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secured three seats.

However, in the 2016 state polls, DAP lost five seats while PKR retained its three seats, giving PH a total of 10 seats.

The loss of the five seats was widely attributed to a swing in votes as a result of the ‘Adenan factor’, referring to the then Chief Minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem whose popularity and leadership won the hearts of urban Chinese voters.

Meanwhile, when asked as to how many seats DAP looked to win in the next state election, Chong said: “The more the merrier.”

He said while PH Sarawak may have a slight advantage this time around in terms of having the support and resources at the federal level, there is concern that people in the state have yet to see or feel the results of policies introduced by the PH-held federal government.

“It is important that the federal government be more aggressive and quick in fulfilling PH’s election promises, so that PH Sarawak would have a better chance of winning the next state election,” he said.