Pakatan Rakyat appears not to have learnt from its 2008 polls lesson in Sabah.
PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat may be biting off more than it can chew in wanting to contest 52 out 60 seats in Sabah in the 13th general election.
It appears the coalition has forgotten the lashings it received in Sabah in the 2008 polls, when it contested in 59 constituencies and won only one through DAP’s Jimmy Wong in Sri Tanjung.
At the time, Pakatan was a loose coalition and had decided to walk alone in Sabah, declining to pair up with local parties.
History, it appears, has not yet taught Pakatan a lesson.
Pakatan has once again pushed away any possibility of working with local parties in Sabah.
At a meeting with Sabah People’s Progressive (SAPP) recently, Pakatan member PKR allegedly told the party that it was going to contest in almost all the seats in Sabah.
Sabah has 60 state seats up for grabs. In the last election, Barisan Nasional (BN) retained 59 seats.
The meeting with SAPP president Yong Teck Lee ended in an impasse, a PKR insider said.
“Pakatan wanted 52 assembly seats. PKR wanted 20, DAP 19 and PAS 13.
“They told him (Yong) only eight seats were allocated for local (Sabah-based) parties.
“I think Yong was shocked. He told them it was not workable,” said the insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.
PAS lost its deposit
In the 2008 general election, PKR contested in 48 constituencies while DAP and PAS contested in 10 and two seats respectively.
PAS did so badly that it lost its deposit
Even Wong’s seat in Sri Tanjung was won after he fought off PKR and BN in a three-cornered fight.
“Unlike Peninsular Malaysia, Pakatan in Sabah was too weak (at the time)…
“‘The situation is different now but it does not mean the Pakatan has a better chance in Sabah.
“The coalition is being overly ambitious in Sabah. PKR has less support in Sabah than it has in the Peninsula.
The same with PAS.
“The strategy for Sabah is unfair and wrong,” the insider said.
According to him, the coalition was confident of at least four seats – Inanam, Likas, Luyang and Kapayan – where in 2008, both PKR and DAP had contested against BN in a three-cornered fight.
“In these four seats the collective votes secured by PKR and DAP (in 2008) were higher than BN.
“Pakatan feels that if there is a straight fight, it win in Inanam, Likas, Luyang, Kapayan,” he said.
He also pointed out PAS’ “unrealistic” bid to contest in 13 seats, when it is yet to secure a firm foothold in the state.
“In 2008, PAS contested in Sukau and Merotai. It only managed to get 76 and 931 votes respectively and lost its deposit in both the assembly seats.
“Now it wants 13 seats… does this make sense to you?” he asked.
DAP, on its part, is demanding 19 seats claiming it has increasing support in Chinese areas like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.
The Chinese in Sabah can have their pick of DAP and SAPP against BN’s Liberal Democratic Party, Gerakan and MCA.
To add spice is the deep rivalry between DAP and SAPP and claims of “sabotage” have surfaced at every election.
For the record, Sabah saw the most number of parties contesting seats in 2008. Some seats had as many as seven candidates vying for them.
This aside, the main point here, according to the insider, is Pakatan’s notion that it can ride alone without the support of local parties.
“I don’t know why Pakatan thinks it can do it alone. It is impossible to win in Sabah without the support of local-based parties.
“It will only bring them down,” he said, adding that the current situation clearly favours BN, which may retain Sabah for another term.