A political analyst says PPBM’s influence in Sarawak may decrease once PKR president Anwar Ibrahim takes over from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said PKR, as the largest party in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, would cause PPBM to “sink” in Sarawak as the Dayak community is seen as more supportive of PKR and DAP.
He added that it would be challenging for PPBM to expand its influence in the state as DAP and PKR had already been there for a long time.
“DAP and PKR are not expected to easily give up their seats to PPBM, which is considered new in Sarawak and unlikely to win in state elections,” he told FMT.
He added that Amanah is seen as competing with PAS, which would make it difficult for it to win in state elections as well.
If PPBM wants to solidify its position in Sarawak, he said, it should start being more aggressive at the grassroots level by tackling local issues.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah analyst Lee Kuok Tiung agreed that the arrangement of seats in the upcoming state elections would depend on who is in power at the federal level.
“If Mahathir is still the prime minister, then PPBM will have a stronger say. But if Anwar has taken over by then, things will be different.”
Adding that for many, Mahathir is synonymous with his party, he said no one had been seen as capable of matching the prime minister’s leadership in PPBM.
“There seems to be a gap between his leadership capabilities and those of his right-hand man in PPBM,” he added.
Lee said it is unlikely that PPBM will gun for urban or Chinese-majority seats in the Sarawak elections, adding that Dayak seats would be the party’s best bet.
He, too, warned that PPBM would be overshadowed by PKR and DAP if it continued to remain low-key in the state.
“DAP is also aiming for the Dayak seats. Even though its ‘Impian Sarawak’ projects failed to win the party any semi-urban or rural seats in the previous election, it doesn’t mean it is giving up on the Dayak seats,” he said.