Will Sabah and S'wak remain kingmakers in GE14?

PETALING JAYA: Sabah and Sarawak helped the Barisan Nasional (BN) central government retain its power in both the 2008 and 2013 general elections.

With the 14th general election (GE14) drawing near, the choice of voters in the two states, particularly those in Sabah, are again the subject of discussion.

Have opposition parties learned their lesson from the last two elections? This is the question many voters in Sabah are asking.

They also wonder if the opposition parties would return to the negotiation table for their common aim of unseating the BN.

According to a report in China Press today, the situation for opposition parties is even more complicated now than it was during the last two polls.

Apart from national opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan and the homegrown United Sabah Alliance, the state will see a new kid on the block in the form of Parti Warisan Sabah, which is led by former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, come GE14.

In 2008, DAP and PKR slugged it out in multi-cornered fights in some constituencies.

In 2013, opposition votes were again split when then Pakatan Rakyat and Sabah opposition parties went for each other's throat besides battling BN.

Apart from the straight fight for Sandakan, all 24 other parliamentary and 60 state seats saw three or more contenders.

The opposition parties were unable to forge a single alliance although they knew that was the only way to beat BN.

Five years on, opposition parties are nowhere nearer to an election pact.

The United Sabah Alliance, an advocate of Sabah for Sabahans, believes that the affairs of Sabah should be determined by Sabahans, and that state DAP and PKR will eventually have to listen to the central leadership even if they win the mandate to form the federal government.

Although Warisan had indicated on several occasions that it wanted to cooperate with Pakatan, a pact remains mere speculation for now.

Nevertheless, political observers believe Warisan would forge some kind of pact with Pakatan due to the presence of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the coalition.