Monday, February 14, 2011

Pakatan in final seat talks for Sarawak polls

Aidila Razak

Pakatan Rakyat is finalising negotiations on the allocation of seats among component parties as the coalition gears for the Sarawak state election, which is widely expected to be held as early as next month.

Speaking to reporters this morning, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said the party was now negotiating two more seats the DAP wishes to contest, while PAS is said to want "two or three more seats".

Without naming the constituencies, he said these did not include seats won by the parties concerned in the 2008 general election, including the popular Padungan seat currently held by PKR's Dominique Ng.

azmin ali pc in parliament 020709 02Discussions are also ongoing between PKR and Sarawak National Party (Snap), which joined Pakatan in April last year, and is now demanding it be allowed to contest 28 state seats.

"The 28 will have to come from the 40 seats that PKR wants to contest, for we both want to contest in areas with Dayak and Iban majorities," Azmin said, adding that PKR was not likely to concede that many.

He said PKR has begun planning the logistics for its machinery in the polls, which he expects to be called next month.

"The polls may even be called just after March 26," he said, referring to Abdul Taib Mahmud's upcoming 30th anniversary as chief minister.

"We have already shipped the T-shirts, posters and all that... (Sarawak PKR chief) Baru Bian is working very hard there. The central leaders will continue to make several trips to Sarawak in the coming weeks," he said.

Pakatan flags spotted in the interiors

Azmin, who is also PKR election director, said Pakatan has a chance of reducing BN's majority in Sarawak, which is considered BN's vote bank.

NONE"Years ago, you couldn't even enter a longhouse. Now, hundreds of people come to hear us talk. I've also seen our flags raised at longhouses deep in the interiors," he said.

Nevertheless, the largely peninsula-based coalition is expecting an uphill battle, with concerns such as West Malaysian leaders being banned from Sarawak high on the list.

"We are thinking of going there now and staying put," he said in jest.

Malaysians from the peninsula are required to fill an immigration form upon arrival in Sarawak and are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 90 days.

Sarawak's vast and mostly rural terrain could also prove to be a real challenge.

"BN leaders can move from one place to another in helicopters. We have to use boats... boat operators have before refused to take us because they are afraid.
"Even if we find a boat, we will still have problems buying diesel," Azmin said.

Taken from Malaysiakini.

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