Najib’s views don’t matter in Sarawak

By FMT staff

KUCHING: Has Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing put Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Tun Razak in his place by dismissing speculations of possible seat swaps in the coming general election?

It appears so given Masing’s statement that any seat-swap in the peninsula “will not affect” Sarawak.

Said Masing: “Should there be seat-swapping among BN parties, it will not affect Sarawak. It may be possible in Peninsular Malaysia. Not in Sarawak.”

The remark has left the political grapevine here pondering on what might happen next.

Is it an indication of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s stand going into the 13th parliamentary elections?

It is a known fact here that Taib abhors Najib. Taib knows that given half a chance, Najib will nail him using the litany of allegations of abuse piled against him and Umno will sweep into Sarawak.

The fact that Taib had within hours of last April’s state election, forced the governor to swear him in as chief minister the same night for fear that Najib will pull the rug from under his feet speaks of the covert parallel politics “threatening state and federal ties”.

That Najib had placed his man Peter Chin as Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president displacing senior minister Wong Soon Koh – who is aligned to Taib and who had been waiting in the wings for years – to allegedly “spy” on Taib further points to this.

While Najib’s ground analysis report noted that Umno and MCA in the peninsula have gained ground since the parties’ disastrous outing in the 12th general election, the same cannot be said of the bickering PRS and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and SUPP.

Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats with Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) holding 14 seats. The rest are with PRS (six), SPDP (four) and SUPP (seven).

Except for PBB which may lose a seat or two, the others are expected to be buried by an increasing aggressive opposition, internal strife within the respective parties and a more empowered populace.

‘Don’t lay claim to seats’

The Dayak community which comprises 44% of the population is no longer BN’s “fixed deposit”.

Following last April’s state election, political observers noted a marked swing in support for the opposition in mixed and rural Sarawak which are predominantly Dayak areas.

Ibans form the majority among the Dayaks and their support for BN is eroding largely due to unfair state land policies which have left hundreds of natives battling against the state government to save their native customary rights (NCR) land.

Closely linked to these land grabs are allegedly PRS and SPDP leaders.

Najib’s eyes and ears in Sarawak have been keeping him posted of the widespread power abuse and deepening corruption in the state.

During last Friday’s meeting with BN component party leaders, Najib had reportedly told BN component party leaders not to lay claims over their seats for the coming general election.

He reminded leaders that “all seats belonged to BN” and would be allocated to component parties in accordance with the respective party’s strengths.

Quoting a BN leaders who attended the meeting, FMT reported: “The PM made it clear. He said no one can claim any right over any seats, even if it was their traditional seat.

“No BN parties are now guaranteed seats based on the number of seats they had contested in the 2008 general election.”

The prime minister has given component parties 40 days to work the ground and report back to him.

Whether this or even Najib’s thoughts matter to Sarawak is another question.

Rumours note that some PRS and SPDP leaders, conscious of developments in Peninsular Malaysia, are now of two minds and “open to offers”.

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