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Friday, May 9, 2008

Sarawak not taking it lightly

State BN taking serious heed of Pakatan Rakyat’s threats and Dr M’s warning of possibility of MPs switching camps

The four component parties of Sarawak Barisan Nasional are not taking lightly the claims made by Pakatan Rakyat that it will form the next federal government in the near future.

The parties — Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) — are looking into this matter very carefully and keeping tabs on the happenings on the ground.

They also unanimously agreed with the warning by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to take seriously the threat by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

PBB deputy president Dato Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said Anwar was waging a psychological war and trying to tempt elected representatives from the two East Malaysian states to jump ship.

“We should never discount (this possibility) because the carrot is being dangled by the other side. He (Anwar) is very tricky, and is trying to create confusion.

“The top leadership had been monitoring the situation and they are not taking it lightly,” he told reporters at the Dewan Undangan Negeri here yesterday.

He pointed out that the state BN had already made it very clear that no MPs from Sarawak would cross over.

“This is because only Sarawakians know the future of Sarawak and we will manage things smartly,” he said noting that PKR is a Peninsula-based party.

Having said that, he was not against the recent setting up of PKR divisions in Mas Gading and Mambong because any political party was free to spread its wings in a democratic nation.

“We in PBB just work as usual, we are not scared of them. The rakyat can judge us. We are ready to face them, because we also know their characteristics,” he said.

His party colleague, vice-president Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman was also convinced that as far as PBB was concerned, none of its MPs would jump over.

“Our MPs have the discipline and they will not stoop to crossing over to the other camp,” he said, adding that Pakatan Rakyat had not delivered its promises to the rakyat, such as the lowering of assessment rates in Selangor.
PBB has the most MPs within the state BN with 14 out of 30.

As for Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), its president Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said Dr Mahathir’s warning on Anwar would be taken very seriously.

This is because the best person who understood Anwar was Dr Mahathir due to the long history between them.

Dr Chan said that just like any political party, SUPP was ready for any challenge and although the party had suffered defeat previously, was changing with time and focusing on consolidating its strength.

He pointed out that SUPP was “not that bad” as they managed to retain their six parliamentary seats in the recent general election despite speculations that they would lose three of these seats to DAP.

He said there was no need for SUPP to comment on the political scenario in the peninsula but he stressed that the most important thing to do now was ensure that everyone in BN worked together towards achieving a very stable state government in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, SPDP president Dato Sri William Mawan said the main concern now was to think of ways to strengthen the BN government, which was short of the two-third majority in Parliament.

One way to do this was to merge SPDP and PRS into a single party, he said.

“Of course from time to time people try to confuse to improve their positions in the public eye in order to enhance and consolidate their popularity, but we are not going to be part of this.

“We will proceed with our agenda and contribute whatever that will enhance the image of BN,” said Mawan.

As far as SPDP was concerned, he said the party was happy to be a component of a strong BN government and work with the other component parties to regain public confidence in BN’s administration system, delivery system and governance, he added.

“I am very happy that so far SPDP has one voice and one direction and
that nobody has made comments that contradict the leadership stand,” he said.

PRS president Dato Sri Dr James Masing said any statement and threat by Anwar or any other leader of the opposition should not be treated as ‘rubbish’ anymore.

This is because of the paradigm shift in the political arena, which resulted in Pakatan Rakyat ruling five states in the peninsula and winning 82 of the 222 seats in Parliament.
“Not only must we guard our position but also guard the welfare of the people who elected us into where we are now.

“They (the opposition) must remember that BN is still the government of Malaysia. The majority had given the trust in us to look after them.

Therefore, any threat against us is a threat against the people who vote us,” he said.
Dr Mahathir told reporters in Putrajaya on Wednesday that Malaysia would experience a lot of conflicts if the crossover of MPs from BN were to take place.

Asked where the opposition front would obtain the 30 MPs or more, the former prime minister pointed towards Sabah and Sarawak saying: “If we take Umno, MCA and MIC, they have their roots in Peninsular Malaysia but not in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Although you have Umno in Sabah, it is transplanted from here (peninsula). They are used to smaller parties. So can we be sure that they will remain strongly loyal to Umno? I don’t think so.”

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