Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s leadership is seen as being able to increase the people’s support for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the coming state election.
Political analyst, Associate Professor Dr Jeniri Amir said the implementation of new policies like empowerment of Sarawak in a number of sectors, the implementation of development programmes as well as the ending of toll collection at three bridges in the state had managed to boost support for Adenan and BN.
The bridges are the Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Bridge in Petra Jaya, Kuching, Lanang Bridge in Sibu and Asean Bridge in Baram, Miri.
“I expect the popular votes for BN to increase to between 55 and 60% in the Sarawak state election this time,” Jeniri told Bernama today.
In the last state election in 2011, Sarawak BN which was represented by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), clinched 55 seats, the Opposition 15 and an Independent, one.
Jeniri, who is the dean of the Social Science Faculty of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), said that based on his study, Adenan had garnered 84% popular support from the people by October last year compared with 74% in April.
However, he said, national issues such as the rising cost of living, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue would inevitably be raised in the coming state election and BN should be smart in tackling this.
Nevertheless, he feels that these issues would only have an impact on young voters exposed to inaccurate information on social media.
“BN should be prepared in countering such information on these issues via the traditional media like radio and television, as well as in cyber space such as through WhatsApp,” he said.
Jeniri also predicted that the Sarawak state election would be held during the school holidays in March before the current Sarawak State Legislative Assembly term ends in June, this year.
On the candidates, he believed there would be no “invisible hand” which could influence Adenan in deciding on the choice for BN in the 82 Sarawak state seats.
He said that Adenan, as the state BN chairman, was seen as someone consistent in every decision he had made and not easily influenced by anyone.
“The choice of candidates (to be decided by Adenan) will be made based on confidence in their capabilities.”
Jeniri added with the additional 11 new state seats in Sarawak, BN was expected to field at least 11 new faces and to drop a number of incumbents due to certain factors like performance and health.