Official: Sarawak BN mulls switching sides

James confirmed that Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud had yesterday met with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
James confirmed that Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud had yesterday met with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, May 11 — Sarawak Barisan Nasional parties are believed to be mulling the possibility of joining Pakatan Harapan after the coalition lost Putrajaya in Wednesday’s general election.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing told Malay Mail he met Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and Taib informed him that he met Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin.

“Yes, Taib met Dr Mahathir and Daim in Kuala Lumpur,” said Masing, refusing to say when or what he discussed with Taib in Kuala Lumpur.

Asked of the possibility that the four Sarawak BN parties could join PH, the Parti Rakyat Sarawak president replied: “If we must move, whether we decide to stay in BN or join Pakatan, we must do it together.

“We cannot move alone. We cannot afford to become fragmented. We must move together to continue to protect our state.”

MalaysiaKini reported today that Taib would summon Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg to a meeting today or tomorrow, after which Johari is expected to call an emergency state BN meeting on Wednesday.

According to sources, Taib had met Dr Mahathir and Daim before the general election but it would appear that he had kept it to himself pending the outcome of the polls.

While there is no confirmation on the state BN meeting, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu supreme council member Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state coalition backbone party was holding its supreme council meeting next week.

It is possible that the meeting will decide the future direction of the state government, he told Malay Mail.

Asked if he was aware of Dr Mahathir’s meeting with Taib, he said he was not.

However, Karim said there was no reason for the Sarawak-based parties not to work with the PH federal government.

He said there were talks before the general election among the state BN parties on what they would do if PH took over Putrajaya.

“We have discussed this possibility,” he said, adding: “We can’t be enemies all the time.”

Karim said Sarawak and the Federal government need to move forward in the interest of the country.

“Sarawak has the resources while the Federal government is obliged to provide financial allocation to Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the federal constitution.

“So we need to work together,” he said.

Johari, in a statement issued after Dr Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday night, had said the state BN will be an opposition government but it will work with the Federal government in the state’s interest.

Sarawak BN, which also comprises the Sarawak United People’s Party and Progressive Democratic Party, suffered its worst defeat in a parliamentary election on Wednesday, losing 12 of 31 seats.

It currently occupies 71 of 82 seats in the state legislative assembly and with the state election due in about three years’ time, the coalition is expected to have a tough fight to stay in power.

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