Mixed feelings among social activists over GPS supporting PN


Denis Hang Bilang

BINTULU (Nov 22): Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)’s decision to support the formation of a new government led by Perikatan Nasional (PN) has received mixed reactions from local social activists.

Denis Hang Bilang, 58, is among those not satisfied with the move by GPs, under the leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, to support PN, which won 73 parliamentary seats in the 15th general election (GE15), versus Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s majority seats of 82.

“During the campaign, the GPS candidates propagated their stand about being from local parties and should they win the election, they would not support any West Malaysian party to gain voters’ support.

“GPS should speak, defend and fight for Sarawak’s rights by all means,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Moreover, Denis said even if Abang Johari wanted to support a Peninsular Malaysian party now, he should consider the voice of the majority, instead of giving support ‘according to his taste or favourite’.

“As a social and human rights activist myself, I want to see the voice of the majority heard and practised here in Malaysia,” he stressed.

Denis pointed out that the Premier should have consulted the people first before speaking out his mind because the people were the ones who gave him and GPS the power to lead Sarawak.

“This (victory) does not mean that he simply puts people’s voice aside.

“He should compare PH’s 22 months with BN (Barisan Nasiona)’s 59 years.

“Sarawak, under BN, has lost so many things – there are so many dilapidated schools in Sarawak; the roads are still muddy and cannot be accessed,” he said.

Denis regarded the move to support PN as ‘repeating the Sheraton Move’, where all the losers banded together to form the majority to form the government.

“Abang Jo, please consider respecting the voice of the majority in your choice of making decisions, not just merely GPS’ point of view,” he said.

Dr Abdul Kuddus Ramlee

Meanwhile, another social activist Dr Abdul Kuddus Ramlee, 64, viewed the decision to join PN as not being Abang Johari’s personal decision, but a unanimous decision by the four component parties in GPS.

“Sarawak has experienced how the PH-led government, which had ruled for 22 months, failed to give much benefit to Sarawak, and they (PH) had even cancelled many projects in Sarawak.

“The slogan ‘Sarawak First’ is a sign in determining the merger decision towards establishing a federal government,” he said when asked to comment on the disappointment expressed by certain parties over such political partnership.

According to Abdul Kuddus, based on the three conditions laid out by Abang Johari, PN must accept before GPS would agree to join.

The conditions are that Sarawak’s rights must be recognised according to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63); that Sarawak’s laws over oil and gas rights must be recognised; and that GPS is not a party under the PN.

“A party that gets the most votes like PH is not a mandatory issue for GPS to join towards establishing a new federal government that favours the people, and especially benefits the regions of Sarawak and Sabah.

“In the merger effort, social activists think that interested parties should think about these three steps, namely celebrate, tolerate and accommodate,” he added.

Abang Johari, on Sunday, had announced that GPS would work together with PN, BN and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) to form the next federal government, with PN chief Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated as the state coalition’s preferred choice for prime minister.

Abang Johari said the GPS wanted a federal government that would be strong and stable to face the coming economic challenges, and at the same time, able to protect the well-being of the people, including their religious freedom.

At the time of his announcement, he said the GPS had yet to sign any agreement on the pact for the coalition of parties.

“Our main focus and responsibility now should be the stability of the country and the well-being of the people,” he told a press conference at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) headquarters in Kuching.

For the record, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun had urged leaders of parties that won a ‘substantial’ number of seats in the GE15 to submit the names of parties that had agreed to join forces, including independent candidates, to form the next federal government.

In a statement issued on Sunday evening, the Speaker said the respective leaders were also told to name an MP from their coalition to be Malaysia’s 10th prime minister through a statutory declaration to be submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.