By Joseph Tawie
A state minister’s criticism of the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS) has provoked a tirade against Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his government from Salleh Jafaruddin, a former strongman of Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB).
The outburst included an accusation that Taib was a member of the Freemason society, which many Muslims despise.
Salleh was responding to Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, the Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, who had remarked that MoCS had yet to be registered and therefore could not go ahead with a Bersih-style rally that it was planning for Aug 13.
He said: “Does Awang Tengah realise that not all unregistered societies are considered illegal?”
“The Freemasons are a well-known weird secret society having a branch in Sarawak. Its members are prominent personalities in the state like Abdul Taib Mahmud, Mr. J.C. Fung (a former attorney general of Sarawak) and many others too many to list.
“Why hasn’t the Registrar of Societies declared the organisation illegal?
“For that matter why hasn’t the ROS declared illegal some known illegal gangs that have been operating in the state for ages?
“I’m pretty sure that it was Awang Tengah who was asked by Taib to approve a piece of state land in Kuching for the Freemasons to build their ceremonial lodge a couple of years back.”
He alleged that the approval was given when Taib held the portfolio of Planning and Resource Management.
Salleh and Taib are cousins. Salleh is a former deputy education minister and used to be a vice president in PBB. In the last state election, he contested against Taib in Balingian as an independent candidate supported by MoCS.
The Aug 13 rally, which MoCS bills as a “walk for democracy and reforms”, is seen as an attempt to force Taib to resign.
Responding to Awang Tengah’s remark that the people of Sarawak had made their choice in the recent election, Salleh said:
“Do you mean that you and your bosses allow deceit to flourish freely and be kept undetected and continuously hidden under the many dirty underpants of the 55 filthily democratically elected members of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly?”
He also took a swipe at State Assembly Speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, saying he “deliberately disallowed” opposition representatives from “seeking the truth” in the recent session of the assembly.
“Your speaker unceremoniously restricted the rights of the 15 elected members of the Sarawak opposition to seek clarification or to ask questions in the Dewan on corruption allegedly committed by your boss and many others, perhaps including yourself.
“If the 15 elected members of the opposition are disallowed, deliberately prevented from seeking the truth about problems faced by the people or mistakes committed by elected leaders of the government of the day, who else can the public turn to for help other than a coalition of NGOs?”
He said “deceits and lies must be stopped” through public exposure because there was no other alternative.
He said MoCS, conscious of its social responsibility, had decided to “openly seek the truth” and thereby make voters in Sarawak aware of their constitutional rights.
“These rights should not be unethically restricted through unleashing of administrative and political power.
“Awang Tengah should be supportive of MoCS because once Taib voluntarily retires from office, he has the opportunity to take over from him, unless he is also a member of the Sarawak pyramid of corruption.”