PETRA JAYA, May 16 – Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the lynchpin of Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN), is reviewing the party’s position in the state coalition.
The announcement was made by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg after chairing PBB Supreme Council meeting, which lasted for almost four hours, at the party headquarters in Jalan Bako here today.
Ending weeks of speculation on the party’s position in the BN coalition, which suffered a huge defeat in the 14th General Election (GE14) last week, Abang Johari said PBB would consult with the other three component parties in the state coalition before making the next move.
The three other component parties in Sarawak BN are Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
“Any move on whether PBB will leave BN or otherwise would be decided after consulting our three state-based partners in the coalition,” said Abang Johari, who is also the Sarawak BN chairman.
He did not gave an actual date or time frame on when the party top leader would be convening the meeting with its three allies.
“I just finished chairing PBB’s (Supreme Council) meeting. We do not need to be in haste. Let all parties settle down first.
“We just finished the election (GE14).. Let the dust settle down,” he said.
Asked if the state government, which is at present ruled by the BN coalition, feared that the newly-elected Pakatan Harapan Federal Government would cut off the funding to Sarawak, Abang Johari said it was up to the leadership at the federal level to decide.
“It is up to their discretion. Having said that, they (the Federal Government) has to observe their obligation as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.
“We are adopting the federalism system and the Federal Constitution states certain obligation (by the Federal Government) on the fund going to the state,” he said.
Earlier at the same press conference, he had read a one-page press statement, which alluded PBB was also mulling to form a new state-based political alliance.
In the statement, Abang Johari said PBB, “being strategically and uniquely independent“, would continue to champion and protect Sarawak’s interests as a united coalition of state-based parties.
“We in PBB are committed to move forward on a strong united front in the full interest of our beloved people in Sarawak,” he said.
When asked if the new political alliance in the state would be friendly to the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government, he replied: “We will work together with the Federal Government in accordance with the Federal Constitution but will not join Pakatan Harapan.
“The state government is currently still ruled by BN, which will continue to fight for the interest of Sarawakians,” he said.
Sarawak BN only managed to retain 19 parliamentary seats during GE14. The state coalition lost six parliamentary seats, won in the previous general election in 2013, to DAP and PKR.
During the 11th state election in 2016, Sarawak BN retained the state government with a landslide victory after winning 72 state seats out of the total 82 state seats. – NST