By Awang Abdillah
Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s money politics thrives very well in Sarawak, where he has willing ‘partners’ – the ignorant rural poor who are in dire need for hard cash, his bumiputera-party politicians and cronies and national-level Umno top brass who are mega spenders.
Hence Taib’s success in holding on to power all these years is his ability to control and utilise targeted people through the art of deception and the power of money politics.
Such is the case with the six Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) assemblymen (Aduns), whom Taib must keep under his control.
After the 2011 state election, Taib had a new problem. His favoured buffer SUPP crashed out to the opposition losing 13 of the 19 seats they contested.
Secondly, he had to contend with the fact that the faction that won the recent SUPP party election (in December 2011) by default is not aligned to him. The new party president is federal minister Peter Chin who is seen to be aligned to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
Taib’s expectation that the faction of six Aduns loyal to him would win the party election was dashed. Of the six Aduns, four are Dayaks and herein lies Taib’s fear.
If the four Dayaks reps decide to join any of the Dayak BN party, namely Pesaka (Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu coalition – PBB), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) or Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), then Taib’s own Bumiputra (of PBB) party is in big trouble.
Because such a move will strengthen any of the three, especially the Pesaka wing (Dayak) whereby it will strengthen Alfred Jabu’s position as the Deputy Chief Minister, who harbours the ambition of being the next Chief Minister .
And if the six YBs return to and accept the SUPP new leadership (under Chin), this will also spell trouble for Taib, meaning SUPP may gang up with the other Dayak BN parties to go against Taib/PBB.
Hence Taib has instructed his Chinese henchman Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan assemblyman and Senior Minister) and company to continue fighting.
Meanwhile the errant SPDP 5 leaders are Trojan horses and have formed a so-called BN club. They may accommodate the six SUPP reps later on instruction of course from Taib.
Taib will feel safe if the gang of six SUPP rebels would join the SPDP traitor gang of five.
Hence Taib is compelled to continue creating havoc among the Dayak and Chinese BN parties in order to implement his succcession plan, despite the Umno/BN parties being in the midst of battling for survival at the national level.
Also the formation of the BN club has yet to get the approval from the BN Supreme Council
Taib succession plan
From the latest developments, it appears that Taib is facing serious pressures from many angles and may not be able to hold on to power any longer.
He wants the BN club to carry out the plan at a faster pace.
Currently PBB has 35 seats, SUPP six and BN club four, totaling 45 state seats. It is more than enough for him to launch his succession plan.
i) Role of Adenan Satem
Adenan Satem’s appointment as ‘special functions’ minister has a double motive.
He is needed to block deputy PBB president Abang Johari Tun Openg’s chances to become the CM, and act as a standby successor to the CM.
In the event Taib meets an unexpected fate – death or untoward incident or in the event Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, who is well-fed and does not have the feet to jump over those more senior to him to grab the post of CM , then Adenan Satem will assume the CM post thereby blocking Abang Johari.
However if Taib is still around and Awang Tengah can move up by hook or by crook to grab his crown , then Adenan Satem ‘special functions’ is not needed anymore, i.e. he is not needed in the cabinet.
ii) Awang Tengah Ali Hassan
Awang Tengah has been groomed to be the next CM for reasons best known to Taib’s open and hidden agendas.
Awang Tengah is now in charge of important ministries responsible for lands, forests and industrial development earning him literally the post of the de facto deputy CM.
He holds many classified info involving the CM activities in these portfolios and vice versa and they thereby mutually protect one another.
Hence Awang Tengah is the most trusted aide to Taib,who will protect his interests when the latter is no more in power. At the same time Taib is grooming Len Talif Salleh to be the future No 2 man.
Len Talif’s job is to monitor Awang Tengah closely to ensure things go according to plan. Whoever is the new head of state will play an important role to ensure Taib’s plan works.
iii) Alfred Jabu, James Masing and William Mawan
The trio Jabu, Masing (PRS president) and Mawan (SPDP president) have managed to position themselves well.
Jabu has successfully defended his position as the only Deputy CM in the cabinet, while Masing and Mawan have managed to get promoted to the post of senior ministers.
In this way they have blocked Taib’s succession plan for now.
Taib is now getting ready to use the majority numbers to enable Awang Tengah to do the triple jump feat.
All Taib needs is another cabinet reshuffle, then Awang Tengah can override Jabu , Mawan and Masing because he is no more dependent on Pesaka, SPDP and PRS .
Once the six SUPP reps join the BN club, Taib has the majority seats (parti Bumiputra + BN club = 36 seats), he can easily put Awang Tengah as the Deputy CM 2.
From there it is plain sailing for Awang Tengah to go for the No 1 post – Chief Minister of Sarawak.
To break Taib’s hegemony
For the good of the state, the people of Sarawak and the Barisan Nasional performance in the coming GE, it is pertinent that the leaders in PBB who are not aligned with Taib and those of the other BN component parties discuss an alternative state leader vis-a vis Taib.
Once they have agreed to a candidate, then they can bring up the state leadership issue to the BN Supreme Council and put forth the necessity of appointing a new state BN chairman to counterbalance Taib’s monopoly authority even though he is still the CM.
Secondly the Dayak leaders should bring their struggle against Taib into the open.
Taib is afraid if all the Dayak YBs are in the BN or all in the opposition, they will bring up their struggle in the open and enable their people to rise against him. – FMT