Why Gabungan S'wak formed
Kuala Lumpur: The withdrawal of four Sarawak Barisan Nasional parties from the coalition to form its own alliance was based on the Sarawak rights platform that voters supported in the 2016 state election, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said.
He said he new coalition, called Gabungan Parti Sarawak or Alliance of Sarawak Parties (GPS), was formed to fit the state's political landscape, which saw the beginnings of change and a push for greater Sarawak rights in the state election that year.
In the state election, Sarawak voters overwhelmingly voted for the BN to give them a landslide victory; yet rejected the very same coalition in the May 9 general election this year. "Our (BN's) win in 2016 was on the platform to fight for Sarawak rights," he told the Malaysian Insight.
Abang Johari's predecessor Adenan Satem back then embarked on a campaign to demand for the return of lost or eroded rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and to annul laws that deprived Sarawak their rights like those over prized resources, oil and gas.
"We have got to get ourselves attuned to the changing situation," said Abang Johari, who is still state BN chairman.
The move by Parti Bersatu Bumiputera (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) to leave BN and form GPS, was announced earlier and was immediately criticised by Sarawak Pakatan Harapan.
DAP's Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii called it a "superficial move" and that the ex-BN parties, though now carrying a different name, still had the "same rot inside".
Pakatan Harapan state chief Chong Chieng Jen said the parties did it for political survival and not because of true change. But Abang Johari told reporters this afternoon that it was not a case of "rebottling old wine in a new bottle".
"The focus of (GPS) is on Sarawak interests and the fight for Sarawak rights like what they did in the 2016 election. "We (will) continue the mandate given to Adenan and to focus on Sarawak interests," he said.
Within minutes of the announcement, workers at the PBB headquarters had already begun removing all BN logos around the party building in Demak Jaya.
Political analyst James Chin of Tasmania University claimed that Sarawak BN leaders "were already thinking about it (the withdrawal) on May 9 night when they saw the results".
Chin said the state BN leaders could see that BN brand was toxic which would make them difficult to win in the 2021 state election. The four Sarawak parties had been part of BN since 1973.