Monday, March 14, 2016

No reason for Adenan to delay S’wak polls, say opposition leaders

Lu Wei Hoong


Opposition leaders expect Sarawak elections to be called within the next three months, even if polls could be held on Sept 20, according to the state constitution.

PKR and DAP politicians told Malaysiakini today that Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem would not delay the elections beyond April, as a postponement would not be beneficial to him.

“He (Adenan) won’t delay (the April) election because time is working against him,” Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said.

DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming opined that the chief minister will stick to his preferred date.

“There will be no change on polling day. Adenan previously announced to dissolve it (the state assembly) in mid-April. Voting day will be at the end of April.

“He has a plan (for the state election). Not much changes will be done,” added Serdang MP.

Under the Sarawak constitution, the current state assembly’s five-year term ends on June 20, after which it will be automatically dissolved.

The state election must be held within 90 days after dissolution, which means that the latest date for polling day is Sept 20.

‘Why should there be a delay?’

Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian expects polling day will be held in April, as indicated by Adenan, unless federal steps in.

“I don’t think the poll will be delayed. Unless Najib gave instructions to have simultaneous federal election, why should there be a delay of the state election?

“Who knows, BN may no longer be governing federal in three months’ time,” said the Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson.

Baru said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may call for snap general election, should the anti-Najib forces gather enough number to push over a vote of no confidence in parliament to oust him.

However, that scenario - in Baru’s opinion - is unlikely to happen and his prediction is that the latest poll date will be in early May.

In January, Adenan had suggested to the Elections Commission (EC) that the nomination date be set on April 18, and polling day on April 30, which means it will be a 12-day campaign period.

EC, however, has yet to announce the date.

Watching from East Malaysia

While debate on the newly-formed Save Malaysia coalition, led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been raging Peninsular-side, these politicians are unsure of its impact on the state.

Ong said the coalition is on people’s radar, but it needs more time to create ripples in the hornbill state.

“Mahathir does not command a strong influence (in Sarawak). But the coalition has attracted the interest of (local voters). They are watching the development,” Ong, who is the Serdang MP, added.

He said the only way it can create shockwaves in the state’s political arena is if the Malay-Melanau community and others get on board the coalition.

“But the coalition was formed in a short period. If we want to see the impact on Sarawak, we may have to wait till the next general elections. The people are adopting a wait and see for now,” Ong cautioned.

Voters’ interest in the coalition may influence the state poll, said Ong, who is the Kota Sentosa assemblyperson.

“I think everyone agrees that Najib must fall….(Mahathir’s influence) is not big but at least it (the Save Malaysia coalition) provided hope.”

Baru, however, is banking on the Mahathir-fronted rebellion to unsettle the leaders and supporters of PBB, Sarawak BN’s key partner.

“Some BN-PBB people may get confused. We need more time to promote (Save Malaysia coalition).

“It’s clear that Mahathir, who was once the prime minister and Umno president, is now opposing Umno. That kind of scenario surely would have some impact (on Sarawak polls),” said Baru.

After quitting from Umno in late February, Mahathir had proposed forming an anti-Najib group.

Last Friday, at a press conference, Mahathir, together with opposition and civil society, launched the Save Malaysia coalition, vowing to force Najib to resign and institute reforms.

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