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Will Sarawak PKR’s resuscitation plan work?

Analysts question the extent to which a 'council of elders' will help stabilise PKR in the state.

Nur Shazreena Ali
2 minute read
Analysts and political observers say PKR lacks a strong and influential leader who can stabilise the party's chapter in Sarawak. Photo: AP
Analysts and political observers say PKR lacks a strong and influential leader who can stabilise the party's chapter in Sarawak. Photo: AP

With Sarawak PKR bearing the brunt of defections among its MPs nationwide, the party’s leadership has come up with a new plan to prepare its state chapter for the impending election.

But analysts and observers of Sarawak politics are not convinced that setting up a “council of elders” is the best solution.

They say what PKR has been missing is a strong and influential leader.

Over the past year, two state PKR chiefs have quit the party. Veteran Baru Bian announced his exit in the wake of the political crisis of 2020, while more recently Julau MP Larry Sng, who was tasked with leading the state chapter, decided in a shock announcement to revert to being an independent.

From six MPs in Sarawak, the party is now left with only one: Miri MP Michael Teo.

Sarawak political commentator Jayum Jawan said there is a lack of engagement between the party’s top leadership and its state leaders.

The council of elders only confirms this, he told MalaysiaNow.

“It can be seen as the failure of the top leaders to identify an individual who is capable of leading the party in Sarawak.”

Jayum also said PKR leaders in the peninsula have yet to come to terms with politics “beyond the Klang Valley”.

Jeniri Amir agreed that PKR is in desperate need of a leader.

He said setting up an elders council was only a temporary fix.

“They need to come up with appropriate strategies. Otherwise they might hit rock bottom in the next state election,” he told MalaysiaNow.

Jeniri said PKR is in “complete disarray” and at its “weakest position” since its 2018 election gains.

“Because of its leadership crisis, the grassroots machinery has been weakened, and it lost its most influential leader – Baru Bian.

“It is now headless and radarless.”

Jeniri said this spells doom for the party in the coming polls, predicting that it will not win a single seat.

“It is an uphill battle for them. There is no influential and charismatic leadership in Sarawak to put the party in place. If I can say this, it will be very difficult for them to win even one seat.”

Jeniri said PKR must emerge from factionalism in choosing its next state leader.

“The leader must have very high integrity – someone who knows how to analyse issues and who can bring the aspirations of the people and address the problem sand issues on the ground,” he added.

Jayum meanwhile said the party’s move to start afresh may have come a little too late.

He said the idea of an elders council came after the national leadership failed to name a replacement to head Sarawak PKR.