News analysis

After failed pacts, Malaysian coalitions court Sabah and Sarawak instead

Sarawak state election banner wars between Democratic Action Party and Sarawak 4 Sarawakians. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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KUALA LUMPUR - The offer of deputy premierships to eastern states in Borneo this week is the latest in a series of inducements from national leaders in a bid to secure not just votes in next month’s general election, but also potential support in Parliament in the likely event Malaysia’s federal legislature is hung.

The intractable antipathy between the ruling Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) and its main rivals – opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) and former premier Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) – means they would rather make outsized concessions to smaller blocs in Sabah and Sarawak than to one another.

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