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SNAP revival in Sarawak ‘looks too good to be true’

Sun 2011-Apr-10 @ +08 01:15:43 am

Lessons from PKR-SNAP pact failure

The defeat of Alfred Jabu in Layar would aid James Masing’s chances of emerging as the top Dayak in the post-Taib political scenario in Sarawak.

By Tan Jooi Long

There wasn’t a lot of hand-wringing and mutual recrimination following the final breakdown last weekend in seat-sharing talks between PKR and SNAP.

‘Easy come, easy go’ would have been the epitaph on the expiry of collaboration between the two parties; to be sure, both had enjoyed only a tenuous relationship at best.

Observers of a phone conversation PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim had with SNAP secretary-general Stanley Jugol in April last year while he, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and PAS’ Nasharuddin Mat Isa were in Sibu to cobble a coalition among opposition parties in preparation for a parliamentary by-election the following month, would have been naive to have expected that the ease with which Jugol, importuned by Anwar, had agreed to join the pact augured well for future ties.

Latterly, SNAP’s revival as a party to be reckoned with in Sarawak politics looked too good to be true despite its not unreasonable claims that as the oldest multiracial party in the state, it held an advantage over PKR in the contest for the allegiance of Sarawak’s ethnically diverse electorate.

Still, from being cash strapped until late last year to being able to field candidates in 26 seats for the state polls on April 16 is a recrudescence that is startling at best and suspect at worst.

There is little doubt that among the financiers who have come to SNAP’s aid are people with less than benevolent intent towards the Pakatan coalition.

But SNAP could counter this speculation by questioning PKR’s cavorting with financier Sng Chee Hua, than whom there are few more notorious swashbucklers in Borneo politics.

Needless to say, the pot cannot be calling the kettle black.

A bedraggled, unreliable lot
Still, PKR feared that if they had come to a seat-sharing agreement with SNAP, it could not be sure that some candidates from the SNAP list would just not turn up on Nomination Day, thus conceding seats to BN before campaigning began in earnest.

This was a possibility seasoned observers of Borneo politics could not dismiss.

The spectacle of seats going uncontested to BN on nomination day is one that the ruling coalition would have used to maximum effect to drive home the point to the folk in the longhouses that the opposition are a bedraggled, unreliable lot.

In the event, on nomination day last Wednesday, only two SNAP candidates did not turn up to file their papers and a third was disqualified.

Of the two SNAP candidates who did not show up in seats allocated to them, one was George Lagong, who was supposed to file his candidature in Baleh where the incumbent is BN’s James Masing, president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

It is now quite clear that Lagong, who is a step-brother of Sng Chee Hua, was merely a proxy for Sng in the fight against Masing in Baleh, masquerading under the SNAP banner.

The Masing-led PRS had last February sought and obtained BN chairperson Najib Razak’s assurance that Sng’s son, Larry, the two-term PRS assemblyperson for Pelagus, sacked some time ago before for leading an abortive revolt against Masing, would not be fielded as the BN candidate in the Iban-majority seat.

Chief Minister and Sarawak BN chairperson Taib Mahmud is fond of Larry and had entertained the hope that he could foist his candidature over Masing’s objections.

When it became clear that Larry would not be fielded by BN in Pelagus, Lagong detoured from Baleh to Pelagus to stand as an Independent.

Byzantine facets of Sarawakian politics

Likewise, Independent candidate for Layar, Tedwin Ngumbang Datu, is a proxy for Masing in the fight to see PBB’s Alfred Jabu defeated in his bastion.

The defeat of Jabu in Layar would aid Masing’s chances of emerging as the top Dayak in the post-Taib political scenario in Sarawak.

Tedwin, who was a PRS stalwart until early last year, had been trying for months to be the sole opposition candidate against Jabu but stories of his having been a principal player in the shenanigans that saw Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak deregistered in 2004, rendered him suspect in both PKR’s and SNAP’s eyes.

From these byzantine facets of Sarawakian politics, it can be deduced that both the BN and opposition coalitions are porous enough to allow for the subsuming of personal agendas within their overall strategy.

Suffice it does not suit PKR and SNAP to adopt an astringent attitude about motive and funding when and if negotiations over seat-sharing resume in advance of parliamentary elections that are predicted for as early as June or as late as November or even next February.

Better to prioritise the putting up of a united front against the BN which would require the shedding of carping inquiries into each party’s worthiness, for where these matters are concerned there are very few politicians who are untainted by shenanigans in Sarawak’s politics.

Tan Jooi Long, a former journalist with Bernama, heads a business news wire service. He posted this article on Twitter.
  1. Sun 2011-Apr-10 @ +08 08:11:18 am 08:11

    CAN YOU SEE THE SEA? – 100411

    Look carefully with what you can see
    Examine well what lies beyond the sea
    Politics is not so simple as mere ABC
    When stupid people act stupid like saw-see

    (c) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
    Sun. 10th Apr. 2011.

  2. Sun 2011-Apr-10 @ +08 10:31:55 am 10:31

    Sarawakians must not get distracted, the focus and target must be : GET RID OF THE THIEF, PLUNDERER– taie Mahmud

  3. Mon 2011-Apr-11 @ +08 12:28:54 pm 12:28

    Brothers and sisters, time is now to CHANGE . For almost 40 YEARS all of you we cheated of land, live and livelhood.Now is the time to stand up and tell these people , enough is enough.You can transform, but we have given you enough time to change but, you were taking us for a ride. See, Tan Sri Khalid is running Selangor very well and the state is manged very well, just like a professional.Those who think that poor people can be cheated all the time is very wrong.They have made money all this time but now you face the people and answer them .I am from Selangor , so dont worry of the consequences. You will be okay, we are still living as Malaysians okay. SO CHANGE !!!!

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