Umno-PPBM spat won’t affect GPS ties, analysts say

KUCHING: A political analyst predicts that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the ruling coalition in Sarawak, will continue to maintain relations with Umno despite its decision to cut ties with PPBM.

James Chin from the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said GPS did not have any loyalty to Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

“Even though there are GPS MPs in the PN Cabinet, they seem to be with the prime minister solely because they want to be part of the federal government, not due to loyalty.

“If Umno comes back to dominate the federal government, GPS will support it as well,” he told FMT.

Chin said although the four Sarawak-based parties had quit Barisan Nasional after the 14th general election to form GPS, the leaders had maintained good personal ties with Umno.

“Besides, the current governor, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has a long-term relationship with Umno leaders, including former prime minister Najib Razak and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“So, I believe Umno will not contest in the Sarawak state election. If there is any tension, it is likely to come from PPBM as it has shown interest in contesting in the election,” he said.

Saratok MP and Krian assemblyman Ali Biju had resigned from PKR to join PPBM.

Chin said GPS could “demand” that PPBM not contest the Sarawak polls, adding that PPBM was weaker now.

Former academic Azmi Hassan said Umno’s decision to reject cooperation with PPBM would not affect Sarawak as Sarawakians were detached from politics in Peninsular Malaysia.

“GPS leaders will observe what is happening in the peninsula but do nothing about it as Umno is not present in Sarawak. It (Umno) is expected to continue to uphold the gentleman’s agreement,” he said.

The gentleman’s agreement – made between Taib, when he was the chief minister, and Umno – was that the Malay-based party from the peninsula would not set foot in Sarawak or interfere in local politics.

“So, Umno’s decision may affect most states but not Sarawak,” he said.

Azmi also agreed that GPS would support whoever formed the federal government.

PPBM, on the other hand, must reconsider its interest if it wants to contest the Sarawak election, he said.

“There are rumours that PPBM wants to stand in the state election but if it does so, GPS would withdraw support for PN,” he said.

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