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Serving in govt and opposition roles simultaneously, not new in Sarawak political landscape - Analysts

Publish date: Sat, 13 Apr 2024, 11:04 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Progressive Democratic Party senior vice-president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh should reflect on Sarawak's political history in the 1980s before commenting on whether a political party can effectively serve in both government and opposition roles simultaneously, political analysts said.

Professor James Chin and Associate Professor Dr. Awang Azman Awang Pawi disagreed with the Bawang Assan assemblyman's assertion regarding Sarawak DAP elected representatives holding positions in the government while concurrently critical towards the state administration.

Chin, from the University of Tasmania's Asia Institute, said elected representatives from a political party serving government roles at the federal level and acting as opposition in the state, simultaneously, is 'not a new thing' in Sarawak's political landscape.

"Those familiar with Sarawak politics will recall that in the 1980s, there was Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).

"PBDS was the opposition at the state level. However, the party's leader (Tan Sri) Leo Moggie was a minister in the federal government. So, it is possible to have one foot in both sides.

"Therefore, Wong Soon Koh is wrong," Chin said.

Formed in 1983, the now-defunct PBDS was a splinter party of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP). However, PBDS was dissolved about 20 years later due to internal crises within the party.

Moggie had served in several ministerial portfolios in the federal government during his tenure as PBDS leader. This included the works portfolio from 1985 until 1995, as well as energy, telecommunications, and posts from 1995 until 1998.

Citing the same example, Awang Azman of Universiti Malaya said that the situation of political parties serving both government and opposition roles at the federal and state levels was nothing extraordinary in Sarawak.

"Such a situation is good for enhancing democracy in the country. This will ensure that checks and balances against the government of the day are in place.

"Secondly, differences in opinions will result in the creation of fresh ideas and new solutions to the issues on the ground, apart from ensuring that the government will not take for granted the welfare and wellbeing of the people.

"Wong Soon Koh needs to learn from the history of Sarawak politics on this," he said.

Wong, in a report published by Borneo Post yesterday, said all DAP leaders and elected representatives should resign from their positions in the federal and Sarawak administrations if they wish to fulfill their roles as an effective opposition in the state.

He questioned how one could accept a position in the government while being critical of the same administration at the same time.

"You cannot have one foot in and one foot out. That would be playing double standards. And people can see that as being insincere," he said. -govt-and-opposition-roles-simultaneously-not-new-sarawak

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