Politicos prep as speculation mounts over S’wak polls

KUCHING: Even as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg dampened speculation on the dissolution of the Sarawak legislative assembly, other leaders have hinted that the state election would be held soon.

According to Abang Johari, the power to dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for an election lies in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Calling for patience, he said he did not know the dissolution date or when the election would be held.

“That is (in) the King’s power. If he calls for it, then we will have the election.

“I cannot tell you in detail because it is not (in) my power.

“I know we are seeing Covid-19 cases coming down, maybe that’s why people are asking if it is about to be election time,” he said after launching the Sri Aman Development Agency in Simanggang town, about 190km from here, yesterday.

Abang Johari said he was surprised to read media reports that the state assembly would be dissolved imminently.

He said he had met the King but did not say when the audience took place, adding that it was about the Emergency currently in place in Sarawak.

“It was about Covid-19. That’s all, nothing else,” he said.

His remarks came amid mounting speculation that the state assembly would be dissolved in the coming days for the polls to be held before year-end.

The state legislature’s term was due to end on June 6, but the election was put off during the nationwide Emergency due to Covid-19.

When the Emergency was lifted on Aug 2, another Emergency was declared in Sarawak until Feb 2 next year to further suspend the state election.

However, the polls can be held before February should the King consent to lift the Emergency earlier.Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said it was an “open secret” that the state election would be held soon.

Abdul Karim added that the Election Commission (EC) was conducting briefings and courses for returning officers throughout the state.

“What can you presume from that? That the election is just around the corner,” he said when contacted.

Abdul Karim also said the polls could take place next month.

“Melaka is going to have a snap election in November. I will not be surprised if the Sarawak election is also in November,” he said.

For the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition, he said it was important to go back to the people for a mandate as the state legislature’s term was supposed to expire on June 6.

“As I’ve said many times, I don’t want to be in extra time,” he added.

PBB is a component party of the ruling GPS state coalition, along with Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

PBB veteran Datuk Peter Minos agreed that GPS wanted to seek a fresh mandate.

“It’s embarrassing to use a borrowed mandate from the Emergency,” he said, adding that the election was likely to be at the end of November.

Meanwhile, GPS secretary-general Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said the coalition had been preparing for the election since 2019, when it was assumed that it would be called in 2020.

“Because of Covid-19, we could not have the election last year.

“But our election operations room has been mobilised since 2019,” he told a media gathering yesterday.

“We have carried out various courses for nearly two years now and our campaign materials are also ready.”