Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Wong Soon Koh has been working at a punishing pace over the past few months.
One has to give it to a man of 78 who does not seem to tire despite spending many laborious months preparing his party for the next state elections due by May next year.
Wong has been criss-crossing rural Sarawak, receiving new party recruits, opening new branches and announcing candidates.
The PSB president has strong and valid reasons to do so. He has declared that PSB will emerge as the “third force” after the elections.
His determination to achieve the target is reflected in the hard work he has put in and he rightly deserves the accolades from his party comrades for his efforts.
But one pertinent question arises: Is the “third force” target overly ambitious?
First, let us examine what “third force” means in the Sarawak political context.
The dictionary tells us that a “third force” refers to a political group or party acting as a check in a conflict between two extreme or opposing groups. For example, the Liberal Democrats is the third force in British politics.
My reading of PSB’s intent as the third force is that it desires to be invited to be part of the next Sarawak government after the state elections.
Hence, the party’s target is to win enough seats to make it strong enough to be deemed “valuable” to the incoming Sarawak governing coalition, not forgetting to be in a position to make demands as well.
This is seen as the primary objective of PSB going into the state polls.
It makes a lot of sense too for it is quite unimaginable to think how Wong and his party leaders, who have always been comfortably entrenched on the government side, would fit into the opposition role.
Wong’s resignation as a Sarawak minister last year was a shocker. He was forced to do so after PSB had been accused of making forays into the constituencies of other Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) parties.
Along the way, PSB also managed to recruit Sri Aman MP Masir Kujat of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) into its fold. Masir, a former deputy federal minister, has now been tasked by Wong to wrest the Balai Ringin seat in the coming state elections.
What is also interesting is talk that PSB is toying with the idea of using the Barisan Nasional’s “dacing” symbol for the elections. Although some GPS politicians have scoffed at PSB’s intention, I see nothing wrong with that move.
As PSB intends to capture the Dayak-majority seats, the BN symbol could indeed be more recognisable among the rural electorate than the PSB party logo.
Then again, since PSB is now on its own, what is there to stop the party from exploring all avenues and opportunities to win support from Sarawakians?
So, is PSB overly ambitious with its third force target?
My answer is that it has no choice but to embark on that objective.
Everything is fair game for an independent party. It owes no allegiance to any coalition and is not beholden to other party bosses.
PSB is on its own and Wong is the boss.
- Free Malaysia Today