‘Taib disrespectful of late James Wong’

By FMT staff

KUCHING: The Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) has expressed its displeasure at the absence of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud during the funeral of the state’s elder statesman James Wong Kim Min here two weeks ago.

“James Wong is no ordinary politician. He was Sarawak’s first post-Independence deputy chief minister from 1963-1966 and effectively, Taib’s senior at that time. More significantly, he was also among the prominent Snap personalities who saved Taib’s skin during the Ming Court coup in 1987”, MoCS adviser Salleh Jafaruddin said today.

Wong passed away on July 18. He was 89 and survived by his wife Valerie Bong, eight children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Salleh who is Taib’s cousin said the chief minister was being disrespectful and ungrateful to Wong when he did not even turn up to pay his last respects to the former Snap president whom he described as a “patriotic Sarawakian and a true gentleman”.

“The late Wong was also a signatory to the Malaysia Agreement and had served five prime ministers. He had also been at the service of Sarawak virtually all his life”, said Salleh.

Taib’s conspicuous absence at Wong’s wake and funeral was also debated in the Sarawak media and blogs. There were quiet expressions of regret at the chief minister’s absence, especially when even the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, Tun Abang Salahuddin, turned up to pay his last respects.

Salleh felt that Taib owed Wong a mountain of gratitude for Wong was one prominent player who helped Taib to build his ‘kingdom’ in Sarawak after he backed the chief minister during the Ming Court revolt.

Salleh was in the Maju group led by Tun Rahman Yakub who opposed Taib and wanted him to step down as chief minister in 1987. He was also a former PBB vice-president.

Saying that traditional gratefulness is one hallmark of an honourable leader, Salleh pointed out that Taib should have expressed his gratefulness to Wong publicly at his death.

Gratitude, as an appreciation for what a person has contributed either to an individual, a family, a race or a nation, must be expressed and shown publicly, he said.

New bosom buddies

Salleh said that if vindictiveness and revenge are allowed to override the human’s inherent social values of forgiveness, our society is heading towards individualism and devoid of gratitude.

“This show of abhorrence is totally unacceptable even in our modern society,” he added.

Salleh said personalities like state minister James Masing and others who were Taib’s political adversaries during the Ming Court revolt were now bosom pals of the chief minister.

“So it seems that in the eyes of the state’s leadership, gratefulness can only be reciprocated upon fulfilling their “secretly designed functions”. It is no longer based on sincerity and traditional communal value of respect”, he lamented.

Salleh said it was unfortunate too that Taib also did not bother to attend the funerals of personalities like Sarawak’s second governor Tun Tuanku Haji Bujang and former State Secretary Abang Yusuf Puteh.

“The people are feeling disgusted with such an ungrateful attitude, smacked of revenge and vindictiveness. This is not leadership by example shown by the chief minister. The spirit of “forgive and forget” ought to be publicly displayed by the state leadership.

“We should let bygones be bygones. We expect wisdom to grow gracefully with age and experience in consonance with the honour, status and dignity of the office held. Traditionally practiced gratitude should be enriched and showered with human love, grace and compassion instead of hatred,” Salleh added. – FMT

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