PETALING JAYA, April 26 — PKR today welcomed DAP’s efforts to engage with Sarawak’s non-Chinese Bumiputera communities but insisted that a merger with SNAP would not be the way to do so.
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told a press conference today that it would be unwise for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties to brush off SNAP’s “betrayal” to the pact in the final hours before campaign kick-off during the April 16 Sarawak polls.
The Sarawak-based SNAP, Rafizi pointed out, was still yet to explain its position and the numerous allegations that it had been employed by Barisan Nasional (BN) to split the opposition vote and ruin PR’s chances.
“SNAP never explained itself. Do not forget that its own president Edwin Dundang himself said that he was supportive of (Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul) Taib Mahmud’s continued rule in Sarawak.
“So we need to take all these into consideration... we cannot just forgive and forget and write off SNAP’s actions leading up to the polls,” he said.
SNAP, a Sarawak-based opposition party known as the Sarawak National Party, was set to contest along side PR parties to topple BN in the 10th state polls.
But in the run-up to campaign kick-off on April 6, the seat negotiation between SNAP and PKR broke down and the former party declared that it would contest in 26 state seats, irregardless of whether it would mean contesting against PKR.
It however pledged not to campaign against DAP and PAS.
Both feuding parties ended up clashing in all 26 seats, a move that PKR claimed was likely a strategic attempt by BN to split the opposition vote.
“That is why, my first when people ask for my views on the DAP-SNAP merger, my immediate response is that I do welcome if DAP wants to venture into the interiors... if they want to hop onto the boat and head to the interiors, or go the longhouses.
“But is merging with SNAP the way forward? We also welcome if PAS wants to open branches in the interior areas... by al means. But we must see the overall benefit for PR,” said Rafizi.
He noted if the purpose of the merger was to help PR spread its influence in the Dayak-majority seats, SNAP had proven during the state polls that it had little or no influence in the seats.
During the polls, SNAP had lost its deposit in 25 of the 26 seats it contested after it failed to garner at least one eighth of the votes cast.
“Logically, if you want to merge with another party to bring in the Dayak votes, that party should have a strenght of its own,” he said.
Rafizi stressed that PKR was not feeling threatened at DAP’s bid to spread its influence in the hornbill state but noted that the party’s concern was on the viability of the merger.
“There is no short cut to these things... we need to slog it out. It takes time to build credibility in the areas,” he said.
DAP’s Lim Kit Siang suggested the possibility of a SNAP merger shortly after the polls, saying that the party should take advantage of the “Dayak awakening”.
There was a significant shift of votes from across the Dayak communities towards PR parties during the polls.
During a state committee meeting on Sunday, Sarawak DAP endorsed the proposal and attempted to engage SNAP in informal talks.