While the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has dominated politics in Sarawak over the last four decades, significant changes have been taking place in the state that could weaken BN’s control. A key development in recent years is the ascendancy of nationally based parties such as the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) within the opposition forces in Sarawak. Another significant change is the swing in Chinese support from the ruling party to the opposition. These developments together with the emergence of a Dayak intelligentsia sharply critical of the ruling elite will enable opposition forces to provide a credible challenge to the BN in the forthcoming Sarawak state assembly elections. This paper details how opposition forces will fare in the elections. It also discusses the issue of succession to Taib, who has been Chief Minister for thirty years, and outlines key developments in the ruling state coalition since the 1960s that led to the rise of Parti Pesaka Bumiputra (PBB) as the dominant party in the BN coalition.
– Extracted from Faisal S. Hazis, “Winds of change in Sarawak politics?”, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 24 March 2011.