Pakatan Rakyat is not strong enough to take on the BN in Sabah despite the peninsular-based opposition coalition having gradually made inroads into the East Malaysian state, a political pundit argues.

Speaking at a forum in Kuala Lumpur last night, the political scientist, who requested that his name not be published, said the Pakatan Rakyat parties did not cooperate well with the Sabah local parties.

NONE"I think (for) the opposition to deliver a strong blow to the BN in Sabah, it must unite and form a very strong opposition coalition.

"(However) I don't think it is happening now," he added at the forum held to mark the launching of a book, ‘Democracy at stake? Examining 16 By-elections in Malaysia, 2008-2011' at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

The academician said possible multi-cornered fights among the opposition parties would reduce any winning chance the opposition could have.

This problem might be solved if PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim could persuade Sabah strongmen such as Jeffrey Kitingan to stick with Pakatan.

NONEHowever, he felt it would be tough for Pakatan to persuade independent-minded people like Jeffrey (right).

"Jeffrey said his party (State Reform Party) wants to contest all the 60 Sabah state seats and four to five Kadasan Dusun majority (parliamentary) seats," the analyst told the audience of about 70 people.

If the State Reform Party went ahead with Jeffrey's plan, this would adversely affect seat allocations among opposition parties seeking one-to-one battles with the BN.

‘Sabah BN turncoats not influential'

The political scientist said the defections by two BN parliamentarians in Sabah recently would not give Pakatan any extra advantage.

"Anwar is trying to use Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukin, but I don't think their influence goes beyond Tuaran."

He advised Anwar to pay more attention to local issues to increase Pakatan's chances of winning over Sabah.

In August, Tuaran MP Bumburing and Beaufort MP Lajim quit BN to join Pakatan.

NONEMeanwhile, Penang Institute fellow Wong Chin Huat (left) argued that Umno needed to be prepared to accept defeat in the next general election.

"You (Umno elites) shouldn't aim for no defeat, you should aim for the chance of coming back after defeat," Wong said.

He warned that Umno would lose its credibility, and its legitimacy to win back power in the future, should it continue to practise election fraud.

Speaking to Malaysiakini later, Wong said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was aiming to wrest back at least 141 parliamentary seats and the Selangor government.

NONENajib needed at least 141 parliamentary seats, he added, to show that he could deliver better than former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he led Umno, which won only 140 seats in the 2008 general election.

However, Wong argued, Najib was not likely to achieve the targets he hoped for and could even lose his premiership as a result of internal pressure within Umno.

The other panellists who spoke were independent researcher Mavis Puthucheary and editor Zulkifli Sulong. Merdeka Centre programme director Ibrahim Suffian moderated the session.