Syed Husin: Uphill task to take over Sarawak

(NST)– KUCHING: It will be difficult for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to capture Sarawak from the Barisan Nasional in the next state elections scheduled for 2011 because it is the BN's fortress, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali said yesterday.

"But nothing is impossible for PR to capture Sarawak in future," he said when he opened the Sarawak PKR convention themed "A New Dawn for Sarawak" here.

Syed Husin said Sarawak BN's strength lay in its financial position and the influence its chairman and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had in the state.

"However strong Taib is, he cannot be in power for forever," he said, stressing that all PR component parties — PKR, DAP and Pas — had to work hard to ensure that they had enough seats to take over the state government.

Syed Husin stressed that Sarawak was facing a number of "hot" issues which the opposition could exploit in the elections.

"These include the Native Customary Rights land, renewal of land leases in both the urban and rural areas, lack of infrastructural development in the interior and poverty."

He added the other issues would be the control of Sarawak's economy by a small group, construction of 12 hydro-electric dams, oil royalty, lack of employment opportunities and migration of rural people to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore in search of jobs.

Syed Husin urged state PKR leaders to help identify areas where the party had a good chance of winning and the potential candidates.

"I believe that there are signs that we can achieve our target in winning many seats, not only in Sarawak but also the rest of Malaysia," he said.

About 300 grassroots leaders from throughout the state attended the one-day convention.