Sarawak PH seen as having no choice but to back Anwar

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan’s recent declaration of support for Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to be prime minister has prompted two political analysts to remark that it is looking only at what is politically expedient.

(FMT) – Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya and Azmi Hassan, formerly of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said the Sarawak chapter of the opposition coalition had no choice but to switch its support from Shafie Apdal to the PKR president because Shafie’s party, Warisan, lost control of Sabah in last September’s state election.

Sarawak PH secretary Alan Ling, who is a DAP member and a senator, recently said the state chapter would support Anwar, adding that he hoped voters would give PH another chance in the coming general election.

The statement departed from Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s declaration last year that his party would support Shafie for prime minister although Anwar was the PH presidential council’s choice. Shafie was then the Sabah chief minister.

The relationship between Sarawak DAP and PKR became cold as a result of Chong’s statement.

Awang Azman said Sarawak DAP was now cognisant that PKR was getting stronger in the peninsula and was keen to show that PH was united at both the state and national levels.

He told FMT Sarawak PH might be able to convince the public that it had no quarrel with the national leadership but added that this would not necessarily translate into votes.

“It is difficult for PH to gain strong support in Sarawak because it failed to honour its GE14 manifesto, especially the pledge to increase the oil royalty payment to 20%,” he said.

He also said former finance minister Lim Guan Eng caused discomfort in Sarawak when he remarked that the state would go bankrupt within three years.

Azmi said Shafie would be a better choice for the prime minister’s post from the viewpoint of Sabah and Sarawak, but added that his influence in Peninsular Malaysia was limited.

“Furthermore, he has lost Sabah, which could be among the reasons Sarawak PH has decided to support Anwar.”

Azmi said Anwar remained the most capable leader in PH for the job of prime minister “and it is important for all parties in PH to have one voice when it comes to their candidate”.