KUCHING, Nov 29 — Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is expected to fare well in the coming state election but is unlikely to win all 82 seats, observed political analysts.

University of Tasmania’s Asian Studies professor Dr James Chin opined GPS has every reason to feel confident as the Opposition vote is split at the moment.

“As to GPS winning all 82 seats, that will not happen. In the whole history of Sarawak’s elections, never was there a single party or coalition winning all seats in the State Legislative Assembly. It just does not happen. So yes, there will be Opposition but their number is still up in the air,” he said when contacted today.

Chin said there is a possibility that on nomination day, the Opposition may come together but he doubted they could agree on all seats.

“They may put on a united front in some seats, but free-for-all in other seats. This is the most likely scenario,” he said.

He noted GPS has the best election machinery because the coalition has the most resources and advantages in terms of logistics.

According to Chin, the most significant thing Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has said is that GPS will not allow its allies from the peninsula to take part in this election.

“This is consistent with the ‘Sarawak First’ tagline of GPS. It also shows the political strength of GPS that they can tell their Malayan allies to stay out and stay away from Sarawak politics,” he said.

However, Chin pointed out that what the chief minister did not say is also of importance.

“He did not say how many seats PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu) is going for. Normally, under tradition, PBB will put up around 40 candidates but people are saying PBB will be going for 45 to 47 candidates. If true, then the political convention is out the window and PBB does not need GPS to rule.

“Bottom line is, unless something big happens during the campaign, GPS will have an easy time during the election. What they do not want is a surprise event that they cannot control,” he said.

Universiti Putra Malaysia political scientist Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan agreed that the chief minister is probably right in his assessment of GPS’ election machinery, which was established in 1970, and has been returned without fail since then.

“The most important arsenal in their election war chest is that as the interim ruling government, their ministerial candidates have access to the facilities of their respective offices.

“In the West, and in gubernatorial and presidential elections, it is the moral responsibility of the candidates to ensure that their incumbency does not misuse the advantage of office. But in our country, the line here gets blurred for a lack of clear guidelines,” he told The Borneo Post.

Jayum said while all may be well in PBB, other GPS component parties are facing their respective problems and challenges.

“PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) is leaderless with the passing of Tan Sri (Datuk Amar Dr) James Jemut Masing. SUPP (Sarawak United People’s Party) is still recovering from being rejected by the Chinese community in the last general election. And PDP (Progressive Democratic Party) is looking to create discontent among partners by eyeing other’s seats in the coming election.

“So all is well in PBB but not so in PRS, SUPP, and PDP,” he said.

Political veteran and former PBB deputy publicity chief Datuk Peter Minos believes GPS is united and predicted the coalition is poised to win at least 72 out of the 82 seats.

He noted in a statement today that the Sunday meeting at PBB headquarters to launch GPS’ election machinery saw the top leaders of PBB, PRS, SUPP, and PDP and their key supporters coming together as one in facing the Opposition.

“Besides the obvious unity shown in the GPS ranks, there was also confidence in the air – confidence that as one solid team it will do well in the election and that it is heading towards victory and that GPS will certainly be returned by the people to continue on running Sarawak,” he said.

Minos said in any war, an army general must have a united force under his command and the high morale and confidence to win, on top of having all the necessary logistics and manpower.

“GPS is in this mould. With a united, disciplined, and well-led GPS facing an obviously disunited and fractured Opposition of DAP (Democratic Action Party), PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat), PSB (Parti Sarawak Bersatu), and Gasak (Gabungan Anak Sarawak), anyone in Sarawak can make an intelligent guess of the outcome on December 18,” he added. — Borneo Post