23/06/2009 by democracy4now
The pivotal elections in Malaysia may well be the Sarawak state elections which are due by May 2011, but more likely to fall at end of 2010. The results may herald whether the Pakatan has started to make inroads into this `safe deposit’ of BN or that BN can still hold on to their strong hold. For that reason the BN Chair Najib reportedly asked the state parties to start preparing for the state elections when he visited them recently. The fact that Sarawak holds the balance of power in Malaysian parliament is not difficult to see: they hold 31 out of the total 222 total Parliament seats-with all, except 1 seat, held by BN. So even though Pakatan can still win more seats in the coming GE in Penisular their hope to win Federal power will be dashed if they can’t make any break through in Sarawak and also Sabah(with 25 parliament seats), the 2 East Malaysian states. BN won 140 seats over Pakatan’s 82 in last General Elections in 2008, giving BN the lowest ever majority of 58 seats. A change of 30 seats may see Federal power change hand. In West Malaysia BN’s 86 seats is almost evenly matched with Pakatan’s 82. It is commonly understood that not much room for progress for Pakatan can be expected in West Malaysia in coming General Elections.
For the above reasons election observers groups should also gear up to ensure free and fair elections in Sarawak and Sabah. Without free and fair elections the isolated interiors of Sarawak may vote in less than fully informed basis as before. Then the election result may not reflect the true will of the people. How do observers expand their circle in Sarawak? The question need more answers than before.