Can Pakatan Rakyat rise to the occasion to decide the political future not only of Sabah and Sarawak but the whole of Malaysia in the 14GE?

Lim Kit Siang

In my media statements in the past three days, I have argued the case, backed with facts and figures, that the three Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS achieved their best parliamentary and state assembly results during their tripartite co-operation in the 1999, 2008 and 2013 General Elections.

This is not only the case for the Pakatan Rakyat parties in Peninsular Malaysia (which was the focus of my statements in the past three days), the same effect applies also in Sabah and Sarawak underlining the benefits of such co-operation among the Pakatan Rakyat parties.

Pakatan Raykat faces two unique challenges in Sabah and Sarawak.

The first is the accusation that the component parties, DAP, PKR and PAS are not ‘local’ parties but are merely extensions of the ‘main’ parties which are based in Peninsular Malaysia and are guilty of being peninsular-centric. As such, they cannot adequately represent the interests of Sabah and Sarawak.

The second is the much shorter history of cooperation among opposition parties, including between DAP, PKR and PAS in both states.

While both these challenges have not be totally overcome, the strengthening of cooperation within the Pakatan Rakyat parties have addressed some of these concerns and have been reflected in the election results.

As recent as 2008, the opposition could not avoid three-cornered fights in Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2008, both DAP and PKR contested in the urban seats of Stampin and Sibu. Stampin was an especially costly three-cornered fight because the opposition could have won that seat in a straight fight.

In Sabah, the situation was even worse. Of the 5 parliament seats which DAP contested in, 4 were three-cornered fights featuring PKR. Of the 10 state seats which DAP contested in, 9 were three-cornered fights featuring PKR.

The opposition was fortunate to win one parliament and one state seat despite these three-cornered fights but presumably, more seats could have been won with greater opposition cooperation.

After the formation of Pakatan Rakyat post GE2008, the situation improved and greater Pakatan cooperation bore fruit.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, Pakatan avoided three-cornered contests in all seats, with PKR contesting in 49, DAP in 15 and PAS in 5. Pakatan delivered 15 seats (DAP with 12 and PKR with 3) and swept nearly all of the urban seats.

The cooperation and performance of Pakatan Rakyat would pave the way for GE2013 where the opposition coalition in Sarawak bettered its performance of one parliament seat in GE2008 to 6 parliament seats (5 for DAP and 1 for PKR).

Although we were disappointed in not being able to capture non-urban seats, this was nonetheless a breakthrough performance in a state that had been dominated by the BN for such a long period of time.

In Sabah, Pakatan was able to avoid three-cornered fights in all seats but one (Labuan was contested by PKR and PAS).

At the parliamentary level, PKR contested in 20 seats, DAP in 4 and PAS in 3. At the state level, PKR contested in 43, DAP in 8 and PAS in 9.

Again, the results were encouraging. Pakatan won a total of 11 state seats, with PKR winning 7 and DAP winning 4, a marked improvement from the single state seat it won in 2008.