The feud between PKR and SNAP over seat allocations has cast a pall of gloom over Pakatan's chances of beating BN in Sarawak.
KUALA LUMPUR: The dispute on seat allocations between Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and Pakatan Rakyat for the Sarawak polls has yet to be resolved.
However, Pakatan chief and PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim claimed that all three component parties – PKR, DAP and PAS – except SNAP have finalised negotiations on the seat allocation despite initial news of failed talks between DAP and PKR.
The result of the negotiation will see the DAP contesting 15 seats, PAS five and PKR the rest for the the 71 seats in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly seats, Anwar said.
But later on, the opposition leader said that PKR would be contesting 24 seats while the remaining ones would be decided after negotiations with SNAP.
The row between PKR and SNAP over seat allocations took a serious turn when there were talks that the latter might boycott PKR. If this occurs, Pakatan might have to face three-cornered fights.
Amid BN’s superior machinery and entrenched support, this could spoil Pakatan’s dream of reducing the ruling coalition’s majority there.
SNAP has contended that being a veteran in Sarawak politics, it has rights to more seats than PKR which is relatively new and not well-known in many constituencies.
The party, which produced Sarawak’s first chief minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, is coming back into the political limelight under Dayak leader Daniel Tajem, who urged all Dayaks to unite under the SNAP banner.
The dispute between PKR and SNAP could see the Dayak votes split.
Leaders of other Pakatan component parties said it was this “selfish” PKR attitude that caused the seat discussions with the DAP – whose efforts to infiltrate the Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold began much earlier than PKR – to falter.
PKR-SNAP talks likely to fail
The DAP had originally wanted 18 Chinese-majority seats but later conceded two to PKR in a move aimed at maintaining a cohesive front as the pact faces an uphill task to oust BN from Sarawak.
But DAP leaders said PKR demanded two more seats and this forced the former to abandon the discussion which was led by Azmin Ali, the PKR deputy president, who is an unpopular figure among Pakatan’s supporters in Sarawak.
When pressed for comments, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, who was present at the press conference, refused to answer but reiterated Anwar’s statement:
“It (seat talks) has been overtaken by events so the final number is 15.”
Azmin is still leading the talks with SNAP on seat allocations and Anwar said there was no timeframe to conclude negotiations.
But sources close to the party said that Azmin was not confident that the talks with SNAP would come out positively.
Nomination for the Sarawak election, which pundits say could determine when the 13th general election will be held, is on April 6 while polling is on April 16.
Anwar said the allocation of seats among the three component parties would be announced in Kuching on March 31.