Sunday, July 13

PRS supreme council rejects merger

* When Abdul Taib Mahmud first mooted the idea of merger between Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) on 20 May 2005 during the launch of Miri as a city, both James Masing, PRS president and William Mawan, SPDP president responded positively. Describing merger as the “most logical conclusion for the Dayak-based parties to work together,” Masing said that he viewed SPDP as a very viable partner and it was just a question of time, while Mawan said that if they could merge, why not? “If it is for the good of the Dayak community why can’t we do it since we are both in the Barisan Nasional.

Taib was reported to have told the two leaders that their parties must merge into a single entity if they wanted to win in the coming State election. Their possible contender would be Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) now being processed by the Registrar of Societies. Taib must have realised that following the deregistration of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), both were Dayak-based parties, SPDP and PRS have received cool response from the Dayak community. Taib also realised that the Dayaks were angry, because the authorities have deprived them of their only political vehicles especially PBDS which had 99.9% of its membership were Dayaks.

But Chinese leaders in SPDP and PRS called for caution, because any move to merge must be done with great care.

PRS deputy president, Sng Chee Hua said that if it were going to happen, somebody would have to make sacrifices as members would scramble for the top posts. “No doubt, there will be a bigger room, a bigger boat, but the question will be who will be its captain. But if it is for personal reasons, then we just forget about it. We don’t want to waste time fighting again,” said Sng.

SPDP treasurer general, Tiong King Sing, expressed similar sentiments, adding: “There is no point to merge, if we have to quarrel over who should be the president and who should hold other important posts. There is no point to merge if at the end of the day, both sides get themselves embroiled in the fight for the top posts. If this is to happen, then why should we rock the boat?”

Understandably, both Tiong and Sng rejected the move as it would certainly deprive them of power and influence in the proposed party, especially when the solidarity of the Dayaks was being strengthened.

Many of Tiong’s Dayak supporters were not that keen at the idea of merger and they were annoyed with the way their president handled the whole issue.

Now three years have gone. Nothing has come out of it. But Mawan is still hopeful. In fact he is very keen to have the two parties merged. One theory is that Mawan is prepared to be the deputy president of the new entity and he is aiming to contest the parliamentary seat of Julau one day. He is hoping to replace Joseph Salang and eventually be made a Federal Minister. They say that the lifestyle in Kuala Lumpur suits his taste well.

But Masing has lately expressed caution and that the rationale for such merger must be fully understood by the grassroots. The “willingness must come from the grassroots and move upwards, and then the leaders must fit in the nuts and bolts of merging. A merged entity cannot be strong, nor will it last if the willingness to merge is formulated by the top leadership.”

Emerged from PRS supreme council meeting (on 5 July 2008), Masing had to use very polite and diplomatic words when he met the Press as he did not want to hurt the feelings of those who insisted that they must merge. What transpired during the meeting was the supreme council members were very vocal against the merger. It was outright rejection after they critically examined the pros and cons.

PRS’ rejection is understandable. Firstly, it has cleared itself of a leadership crisis that almost sent the party to the gallows. It is now solidly united especially after Joseph Salang, Aaron Dagang and other hardcore members of the demised PBDS had joined PRS. It is slowly and surely becoming a strong Dayak-based party with the ultimate aim of replacing PBDS. And why should they invite troubles and create problems by merging with a party that is heavily influenced by Chinese – a party that even asked MP Tiong King Sing to pay a bill worth RM8.00?

Secondly, PRS wanted to know the real reason why certain quarters insisted that PRS must merge with SPDP. Were they sincere? Or did they have a hidden agenda? “If it is to strengthen Dayaks’ unity, then it is only superficial as there are Dayak leaders in PBB and SUPP. They too must resign from their respective parties and join the new entity, if they really want to see the Dayak unity,” said a PRS supreme council member and added: “Only then there is a sense of talking about the Dayak unity.”

And the talk that the new entity would further strengthen BN “is also bullshit” as it would make no difference whether PRS and SPDP were to merge or not.

However, a PRS Supreme Council member said: -
(correction: the statement below was not by Masing as reported earlier; error regreted)

“If the two parties are really serious about merger, then we must set our vision and the mission to accomplish the vision. Our agenda is more than the Dayak unity. The questions are: Are we brave enough to articulate the interests of the Dayaks? Are we brave enough to defend and fight back our NCR land that has been taken away from us, how the Dayaks have been marginalised in education, promotions and recruitments into the civil service, how we are being left behind in terms of development and being deprived of business opportunities?”

He said that those are the main issues that should prompt them to be merged into a strong political union.

* Source: Volume II of soon to be published, “The Broken Shield – The Dayak Dilemma”

No comments: