Sarawak: Pakatan confident of winning 13 parliamentary seats

Baru (left) says ‘there are 5 or 6 overlapping seats’ where both PKR and DAP want to contest. With him is PKR Wanita vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni.

Ng Ai Fern,

Pakatan Rakyat is confident of delivering 13 parliamentary seats in Sarawak in the 13th general election amidst a gridlock in seat negotiations at the state level. 
“My personal observation is that we (Pakatan Rakyat) can win 11 seats, or even up to 13 seats if the message goes to the ground. Anything beyond that is a bonus,” Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian told a press conference today.  
Baru added that that there were five or six overlapping parliamentary seats, and it will be decided by the party’s national leaders. It is learnt that both PKR and DAP want to contest these seats which include two semi-rural seats Mas Gading and Sri Aman and two urban seats Stampin and Miri. 
“The overlapping (claims) is an ongoing thing. We have done our best at the state levels, and we push up to the federal level (to decide),” he explained. 
He stressed that the principle remains unchanged on choosing the best winnable candidates. In addition, Pakatan Rakyat is committed to field only one candidate for a straight fight with BN candidates.
The tussle over Mas Gading worsened recently after PKR national vice-president Datuk John Tenewi openly asked DAP to stay away from this Dayak-majority seat and focus on urban areas instead.
Meanwhile, BN is also having internal political squabbles over the seat after its incumbent Mas Gading MP Dr Tiki Lafe was sacked by SPDP for insubordination in November 2011.   
SPDP president Tan Sri William Mawan has nominated Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) deputy general manager Anthony Nogeh Gumbek to defend the seat.
Tiki, who is now partyless, had joined four other former SPDP leaders to form the Sarawak BN Club or more popularly known as the SPDP Five. He appeared hopeful to be fielded as BN’s direct candidate with his popular grass roots’ support.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had said he would leave it to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to decide on the candidates.
On whether Pakatan Rakyat will accept anyone from the BN Club, the state PKR leader said: “As long as they agree with our manisfesto, whether they are former BN or not, we can work together. Realisation or enlightenment can be last minute.” 
Also present at the press conference was Wanita PKR vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni. PKR will be launching its election manifesto on Monday, Feb 25.
In the 2008 general election, Sarawak BN swept 30 out of the 31 seats, losing only Bandar Kuching to DAP’s Chong Chieng Jen. BN subsequently lost another seat to DAP during the Sibu by-election when DAP’s state chairman Wong Ho Leng narrowly defeated Robert Lau Hui Yew of SUPP.
Of the 29 parliamentary seats held by BN, PBB has 14, SUPP, five, PRS, six, and SPDP, four.