KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — Rural Sabah and Sarawak will play a vital role in determining the victor of Election 2013, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in a Bloomberg report today.
Anwar told the news agency he was confident of Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) success despite the alliance’s differences in ideologies, although current seat tussles between PR and component parties in both east Malaysian states indicate otherwise.
“In Sabah and Sarawak, we’ve never seen that level of support among indigenous tribes,” Anwar (picture) told Bloomberg here.
“People do concede that there’s going to be a substantial change in Sabah and Sarawak, enough to alter the shift in balance of power nationwide.”
Sabah and Sarawak are traditionally viewed as a safe vote bank for Barisan Nasional (BN), with the coalition winning 55 out of 71 seats when Sarawak held its state election in April 2011.
The de facto leader of PKR also predicted a smooth transition of power should PR win Putrajaya, thanks to the changing attitude of the police force in handling political events.
“The police have changed in the last few months,” he said.
“There’s hardly been any harassment from the police in all our programmes. It’s a pure change.”
He pointed out that the police did not obstruct the latest opposition rally, the People’s Uprising Rally in January, but instead helped to “facilitate” it.
In the aftermath of the rally, dubbed “KL112”, it was the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) that has come under the spotlight, earning praise from the public and key leaders from both the opposition and BN for exercising restraint during the event.
The police force, especially the Dang Wangi police station, had implemented a number of initiatives for the first time during the rally, in order to assist the participants and the media covering the event.
Previous gatherings organised by polls watchdog group Bersih 2.0 had resulted in pitch battles on the streets between the police and protesters.
Parliament will automatically dissolve on April 28 and elections must be held 60 days from then.