KOTA KINABALU: Some local political observers here opine that the unanimity between Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in facing the upcoming 15th General Election (GE15) could contribute to the formation of a more stable federal government, besides bolstering the voice of Sabahans.
Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Sabah branch, Tony Paridi Bagang said the GRS-BN political cooperation was proven during the last Sabah State Election, thus the people wanted to see their continued harmonious cooperation in GE15.
“Therefore, GRS-BN cooperation should remain as a strategy to win in GE15, besides avoiding contests among candidates from this coalition which could split the votes.
“The main challenge is the distribution of seats among the component parties of GRS and BN. Thus, I do not dismiss the possibility of contests among candidates of the two coalition partners.
“The split votes can cause another party to win, not based on popularity but by obtaining more votes due to the GRS and BN candidates also contesting against each other after failing to cooperate,“ he told Bernama.
Researcher with the Sabah Electoral and Geopolitics (GeoPes) Study Group, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Assoc Prof Dr Ramli Dollah opined that GRS-BN cooperation in GE15 was not impossible due to the political party autonomy and uniqueness of Sabah politics, although seen as not in line with the national political context in the peninsula.
He said that with a big coalition cooperation like this, the federal government would be listening more to the voice in Sabah which was championing the state’s rights, apart from the more effective bargaining process if all the Sabah Members of Parliament spoke on one platform on the same issues.
However, Ramli said the challenge of ensuring that this cooperation remained strong, especially after GE15, should be studied further and be faced carefully as any issue could threaten the GRS-BN close cooperation and destabilise the state government.
“If this cooperation cannot prevail (after GE15), the state government may be shaky and even collapse which could result in another state election. Therefore, this situation requires a high level of give-and-take stance among the parties involved,” he added.
Dr Haryati Karim who is also a researcher at UMS’s GeoPes, said GRS-BN cooperation was vital in ensuring that the federal government formed after GE15 could fulfil Sabah’s claims, in line with the GRS-BN state government’s struggles and aims.
“Sabah needs a progressive government administration such as the current GRS-BN state government. If that cooperation does not prevail, the implementation of development projects will change with a change of government.
“The cooperation must exist before the naming of candidates for GE15, besides the sincerity of wanting such a cooperation for the sake of Sabah’s stability and development but the main challenge is the commitment to remaining loyal in that cooperation.
“What is not needed by the people of Sabah is to hold a state election again if the GRS-BN cooperation falls apart after GE15, which will scupper the state’s development process due to the change of government after holding the last state election two years ago (in 2020),” she said.-Bernama