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Will Sarawak Assembly Be Dissolved Tomorrow?

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KUCHING – The dissolution of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly – originally speculated to be Thursday – could be slightly delayed, according to Barisan Nasional insiders.

The consensus seems to be that the sooner the polls are held, the better for Barisan.

However, longstanding tussles between SUPP and breakaway party UPP, similarly between SPDP and Teras, could throw the spanner in the works.

Tan Sri James Masing, president of PRS, the second largest Barisan party in Sarawak after PBB (headed by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem), believed polling day would be in May.

“My guess is nomination day will be in April, with polling in May. Only once SUPP and SPDP’s problems are solved can CM Tan Sri Adenan Satem call the election,” Masing told The Star on Tuesday.

As a Barisan component party chief, he expressed frustration and unease at the tussles.

“It would be much better if they stop their personal disputes, compromise and allow us to fight as one community,” Masing said.

SUPP-UPP both aim to contest in urban areas, which has been dominated by DAP for about a decade in Sarawak.

Currently, UPP would appear to have the upper hand on being given seats, since it does have more incumbents than SUPP. Observers have noted the longer the tussles drag on, the more damaging it would be to SUPP’s chances.

SUPP president Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian seemed to agree.

“What needs to be done and needs to be said have all been done and said. Voters by now know what is at stake. It’s time for them to decide and choose,” Dr Sim said, but was tightlipped on delays.

Earlier in the week, speculation was rife Adenan could advise Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud to dissolve the Assembly during their scheduled pre-Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

It was a week ago when Adenan told reporters he would finalise the candidate list by end of the month.

But while he has made public that candidates to be renominated and new faces, he has so far held back on making announcements at SUPP-UPP and SPDP-Teras areas.

For instance, at Pakan (which is held by Teras president Tan Sri William Mawan, who won the seat when he was with SPDP) Adenan told voters to trust him in choosing the best candidate.

“I want you leave it to me to pick our election candidates,” Adenan told the crowd there last weekend.

On Monday, he said the same at Tasik Biru, another SPDP-Teras disputed seat.

In Sibu, after he announced two seats could be given to members with UPP, it prompted some within SUPP to propose calling for a special delegates conference — a move that would have heightened tensions.

Asked about the CM-Governor meeting scheduled for Thursday, Masing said it might just end up being a common courtesy call prior to the state Cabinet meeting.

The SUPP-UPP and SPDP-Teras wrangling have been “headaches” for the Chief Minister, said PBB publicity working committee chairman Datuk Peter Minos.

“It’s better to have the election within April and be done with it. That is the general mood. Let’s get over it. It’s ‘useful’ to move the election along. All politicians know this. Further delays may make things worse,” Peter said.

University Malaysia Sarawak political communications associate professor Dr Jeniri Amir predicts polling day would be on a Saturday.

If it cannot be on April 30, then May 7 or 14 could be strong possibilities.

“As for nomination day, it will likely fall two weeks before polling,” he said.

Jeniri said about 60 seats in the coming election were safe areas for Barisan.

Out of the total of 82 seats, about 30 seats can be classified as Malay-Melanau majority, slightly over 20 as Iban majority, 15 with Chinese

majorities and Bidayuh with seven.

In 2011, Taib, then the Chief Minister, had chosen a Saturday to announce that the assembly would be dissolved the following Monday. – The Star Online

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