Wednesday, December 1, 2021

GPS says will resolve overlapping claims for 3 seats ahead of Sarawak polls

The three seats are Opar, Mambong and Bawang Assan.

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Sarawak ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has played down concerns over overlapping interests in seats ahead of the state election, saying talks will be held to resolve the issue.

Its chairman Abang Johari Openg said GPS would continue to work as a team ahead of the election, including over the three seats – Opar, Mambong and Bawang Assan.

“There might be a bit of a problem with Mambong,” he said when asked to comment on the dispute over the three seats.

“But we will discuss this later. These are only three seats, meaning three out of 82, so 79 seats are still fine. We can solve the issue.”

He also said that concerns were premature as the Election Commission will only meet on the Sarawak polls tomorrow.

Opar, Mambong and Bawang Assan are seats traditionally allocated to SUPP.

In 2014, Wong Soon Koh, who is the Bawang Assan incumbent, broke away to form a splinter party known as the United People’s party (UPP).

Four assemblymen – Dudong rep Tiong Thai King, Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina, Mambong assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil and Engkilili rep Johnichal Rayong – joined him in UPP.

UPP at that point maintained friendly ties with the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, with the five contesting the 2016 state election under the Sarawak BN banner.

But the political tsunami that swept across the country during the 2018 general election saw a number of lawmakers switching allegiance.

The shock defeat of the BN federal government also witnessed the departure of four parties from the state chapter which went on to form GPS in July of that year.

A year later, GPS ally Wong, who was UPP president, resigned from the Cabinet and rebranded UPP as Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).

PSB eventually parted ways with GPS while its former deputy president Jerip Susil who was Mambong assemblyman resigned from the party and joined Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu.

With the 12th Sarawak election around the corner, the Mambong seat is now under dispute as its incumbent Jerip is with PBB but SUPP continues to claim its traditional seat.

There is also speculation that PBB leaders and members in Opar and Bawang Assan are keen to take on PSB in both seats.

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