New Straits Times

Bersatu can’t afford to lose Ali Biju as MP, says analyst


KUCHING: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) cannot afford to sack Datuk Ali Biju for breaking ranks and contesting as an independen­t in the state election.

Political analyst Professor Dr Jayum Jawan said losing Ali as a member of parliament (MP) could cost Bersatu, which currently held 32 seats in Parliament.

“Ali is correct in defending his state seat. It’s the right thing to do. He is not challengin­g any body. (I do not think Bersatu will take disciplina­ry action against Ali), unless they can afford to lose the support of one MP,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

On Monday, Ali had filed his nomination papers to defend his Krian state seat as an independen­t candidate.

This was despite the decision made by Bersatu’s top leadership to sit out of the state polls and assist Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) instead.

The 53-year-old Saratok MP won the Krian seat on a PKR ticket in 2011 and 2016, before joining Bersatu in March last year.

Ali is also the Deputy Energy and Natural Resources Minister in the federal cabinet.

Jayum also said despite the surprise move by Ali, he believed that relations between GPS and Perikatan Nasional (PN) would still continue.

“I don’t think GPS would dare sever its relations with PN, which is the ruling party at the federal level, just because of Ali and one Krian seat,” he added.

Another analyst Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said while Bersatu had announced that it would not be fielding candidates in the election, the top leadership had not explicitly barred its members from joining the race as independen­ts.

“(Bersatu’s announceme­nt) does not prevent Ali from contesting, as he is not contesting under the Bersatu ticket. This may be his justificat­ion.

“However, although this was a shocking move at first, I don’t see it having a big impact on GPS-Bersatu ties,” he said.

Awang Azman, who is also Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Election Studies research fellow, said based on studies on the ground, Ali was found to be quite popular among the Krian constituen­ts.

On Pas’ decision to contest in the Beting Maro state seat in the Sarawak election, Awang Azman said Pas had the tendency to swim against the tide.

He said it was as if Pas was not being sensitive to the situation and prioritise­d their personal interest, instead of the mutual understand­ing they had with PN.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Associate Professor Dr Neilson Ilan Mersat said it was not a wise decision for Pas to join the fray and contest against GPS, as both parties were in the ruling coalition.

“If the spirit of consociati­onalism is to prevail and flourish in the federal coalition, I think it is not a good decision for Pas to field any candidate in the Sarawak elections, even for reasons best known to Pas leaders themselves.

“We talk about ‘Keluarga Malaysia’, but now (it is as if ) you are attacking your own family members.”

Neilson said despite Pas never winning the seat, Beting Maro had been their “favourite hunting ground” since entering Sarawak.

The party’s Sarawak secretary Mohammad Arifiriazu­l Paijo will go up against four others in Beting Maro, including Jacky Chiew Su Chee of Parti Bumi Kenyalang, Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh (PKR), Razaili Gapor (GPS), and independen­t candidate Safiudin Matsah.

In the 2016 state election, Pas fielded 11 candidates, all of whom lost in the elections.

 ?? PIC COURTESY OF NST READER ?? Datuk Ali Biju arriving at the nomination centre in Sri Krian, Saratok, to file his papers as an independen­t candidate in the Sarawak election on Tuesday.
PIC COURTESY OF NST READER Datuk Ali Biju arriving at the nomination centre in Sri Krian, Saratok, to file his papers as an independen­t candidate in the Sarawak election on Tuesday.

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