Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the main member of Sarawak Barisan Nasional, has dispelled talk that the component parties are negotiating to join Pakatan Harapan.
They were not in discussion with Pakatan either at the state or national level, PBB vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said.
He said that PBB and its Barisan partners – Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Sarawak United People’s Party and Progressive Democratic Party – form the Sarawak government of the day, while Pakatan is the Opposition.
“However, PBB and its coalition partners respect the democratic rights of Malaysians in wanting to change the government,” said Abdul Karim, who is the state Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister.
Under a parliamentary democracy system, he said it was not uncommon to see the federal and state governments being held by rival parties.
“Despite having differences, it is perfectly normal for the federal and state governments to have some level of cooperation as they are mandated by the people. Both governments must not lose their sight and responsibility to the people,” Abdul Karim said.
Sarawak Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Abdullah Saidol said the party would maintain its political integrity and not become “political frogs”.
“We are not desperate because we know where our political strength lies,” he said, brushing off talk that PBB will join Pakatan.
Talk had been rife that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had met Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud on the possibility of Sarawak Barisan joining Pakatan.
Abdullah said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had clearly stated that the Sarawak government was prepared to cooperate with the Pakatan-led Federal Government.
Sarawak, he said, would not abandon its pursuit for a devolution of powers from Federal Government and to regain the state’s legitimate rights as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution.
On the part of Sarawak Pakatan, it has voiced its stand not to accept the state Barisan into its fold.
State Pakatan chairman Chong Chieng Jen dismissed speculation that Barisan was in talks with Dr Mahathir in hopes of joining Pakatan.
“Accepting PBB into Pakatan is akin to Umno joining Pakatan at the national level,” Chong said in reference to its stand of not welcoming Sarawak Barisan.
State PKR chief Baru Bian described PBB as an Umno proxy, thus accepting Sarawak Barisan parties would betray the trust that voters gave to Pakatan.
A letter has been written to PKR chief Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Pakatan secretary Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to reject any Barisan parties into the coalition.
Meanwhile, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin announced that two independent candidates, who won parliamentary seats in Sarawak, have crossed over to the Opposition.
The two are Larry Sng Wei Shien (Julau) and former Parti Rakyat Sarawak leader Jugah Muyang (Lubok Antu).
According to Zuraida, more leaders are expected to cross over to Pakatan in the coming weeks. – The Star