The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), a.k.a. BN (Sarawak) prior to GE14, is in an awful dilemma. The four GPS components regard themselves as the parties of Government, and being deemed as the opposition is anathema to them. At the state level the GPS holds an overwhelming majority of seats in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, as Sarawak has not held elections concurrently with the federal poll since 1974. Yet continution in office is heavily reliant upon patronage, and the Malaysian federation accords the central government inordinate power. GPS recently declared itself 'Pakatan Harapan friendly' at the federal level, yet its strongest local campaign theme is the promote state's rights, and take back resources from the federal domain.
Michael Leigh arrived to commence his research in Sarawak in December 1962, at a turbulent time just after the Brunei revolt had been suppressed and shortly before the start of armed Indonesian confrontation. He has maintained an active interest in the processes of political and economic change. His books include The Rising Moon: Political Change in Sarawak (1974), Council Negri Sarawak: Malaysia’s First Legislature (1992), Mapping the Peoples of Sarawak (2002) and Deals, Datus and Dayaks: Sarawak and Brunei in the Making of Malaysia (2018). He has been a professor at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
Dr John Funston from ANU will provide comments from a national perspective.