PETALING JAYA: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, the lynchpin of the Sarawak state government, needs a “serious internal cleansing” if it hopes to remain in power after the next state election, says a Sarawak-based civil society organisation.
Francis Paul Siah, founding chairman of the Movement for Change Sarawak says that the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak coalition had cleverly taken up the issue of state rights, a matter which resonated with Sarawakians.
This would give GPS the edge at the next state general election due by July 2021, because Sarawak Pakatan Harapan could not use the issue by being part of the PH-led federal government.
“This doesn’t mean that support for PH is lacking: a large number of people are still die-hard PH supporters, particularly among the Chinese,” said Siah.
However, GPS could win comfortably if other component parties, SUPP, PRS and PDP, could retain the seats that they won in 2016. “The key to a GPS victory still lies in the strength of PBB. This is why PBB cannot afford any mistakes going into the elections,” said Siah, referring to the need to inject fresh blood into the party.
“PBB is not void of capable leaders but the trouble is that top leaders stay too long in the job, denying others the opportunity to step up,” he said.
Siah said the days of PBB leaders serving as chief minister for 33 years were over – an indirect swipe at former Sarawak strongman, Abdul Taib Mahmud – and an “internal cleansing” was needed.
“Greedy, corrupt and self-serving leaders must go and be replaced by far-sighted, outspoken and selfless people, even if they are way down the party hierarchy,” said Siah.
These new leaders included Nancy Shukri, MP for Batang Sadong, and Dr Annuar Rapaee, assemblyman for Nangka. He said they had proven themselves to be capable and more importantly, clean and untainted.
“Nancy is 57 and Annuar is 55. They are politically mature, experienced and outspoken and should be thrust into the forefront.” Siah also mentioned two other vocal MPs, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong), and Fadillah Yusof (Petra Jaya).
Nancy is a former federal minister, while cardiologist Annuar is a state assistant minister for Education and Technological Research.
“Last year, Nancy came out strongly in defence of the use of English in Sarawak, telling Putrajaya straight up that no one has the right to stop Sarawak from using English as an official language,” he said. Her efforts had not gone unnoticed.
“Annuar is regarded by many as a hard-working and conscientious leader who prefers to work quietly away from the limelight.”
Siah said he has heard of rumblings that Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg was “fighting” to keep his job, though his likely replacements, who are high up in the party’s hierachy, are also tainted.
“If GPS wants to retain power, it would be best for Abang Johari and the other top leaders to step aside so that PBB can be cleansed. They should learn from Umno’s failure to change the top leadership. The people had enough of them and kicked them out. PBB could suffer the same fate,” Siah said.
- Free Malaysia Today