By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — All eyes are on the upcoming Sarawak state elections as its outcome will determine when the next general elections will be held, according to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
The veteran politician believes that a convincing Barisan Nasional (BN) victory in the Sarawak state elections, slated to be held before July 2011, will hasten the 13th general elections to within the first few months of 2012. But if the Sarawak BN state government fails to retain its two-thirds majority, or loses, the general elections will only be held in late 2012.
“If Sarawak BN does well, the next general elections will be held early in 2012. But if the results are unfavourable to BN, whereby it fails to regain a confident two-thirds majority in the state assembly or loses the state, then I think elections will be held late 2012,” Tengku Razaleigh told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview.
The Kelantan prince popularly known as Ku Li said that retaining Sarawak is crucial for BN because it would be the tipping point for the federal coalition’s hold on federal power.
“It really depends on the outcome of Sarawak. If the results goes against Barisan, we are done for. If the win is not in favour of BN, like retaining control in Sarawak (with a simple majority) then this will affect Sabah,” said the Gua Musang MP.
It is understood that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud himself will be leading the charge come the state elections, despite repeated calls for the veteran politician to step down as head of the state government.
“Taib is going to stand again. He is going to lead Sarawak BN into the elections,” claimed the former Umno vice-president.
He said that the mood or sentiments on the ground was a signal that would determine the date of elections.
“You have to determine the date of elections based on the feelings of the people on the ground, or the economic climate of our country.
“Public reaction is the best yardstick, look at the results of the last few by-elections. Going by Hulu Selangor, BN was happy. They were shocked when the Sibu results came out,” said Tengku Razaleigh.
The former finance minister told The Malaysian Insider that DAP’s win in Sibu had forced BN to abandon their plans of having an early nationwide elections and Sarawak state elections simultaneously.
“I think they were planning to have the general elections simultaneously with Sarawak state elections if they had won Sibu. BN had indicated that having general elections together with Sarawak would be a better move.
“That was their game plan, when they lost Sibu, they decided not to proceed with the plan,” added Tengku Razaleigh.
DAP won the Sibu parliamentary seat recently in a surprise upset despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself going through extreme measures to ensure a BN victory.