Sunday, August 3

Minor reshuffle surprises PRS

As everyone was expecting Abdul Taib Mahmud to reshuffle his cabinet after the SUPP delegates conference in December, last Thursday’s announcement of cabinet reshuffle (31 July 2008), although a minor one, caught many cabinet ministers, politicians and the general public by surprise. And if disappointment can be measured by figures and numbers, Parti Rakyat Sarawak’s disappointment is probably around 90 to 100%, SUPP’s disappointment is in the region of 80% and PBB’s 20%.

PRS had expected one of its assemblymen to be appointed replacing Larry Sng as assistant minister. PRS had informed Taib in June that Sng was no longer a member of the party and it had sought review of his position in the cabinet. And that review should come after December.

Although it is Taib’s prerogatives to appoint anyone to sit in his cabinet, PRS insists that the quota “belongs” to them and Taib should respect it if he is sincere towards PRS in particular and to the Dayak community in general, which PRS claims to represent.

But whatever it is, Taib must have some reasons for keeping Larry Sng at the expense of antagonizing the Dayaks in PRS. For one, Larry Sng is not an ordinary assemblyman, whose father, Sng Chee Hua and father-in-law, Ting Phek King are both powerful and influential figures in Sarawak’s politics. Secondly, the junior Sng has substantial following among the Dayaks and Taib cannot simply ignore them. And thirdly, Taib is keeping Sng until the next State election which is a stone’s throw away.

Sng was expelled from the party after he and his father tried to topple Masing in a prolonged leadership tussle soon after the State election in 2006. The party was deeply split having two “presidents, two supreme councils and two headquarters.” Masing finally triumphed when the Registrar of Societies (ROS) recognized his power to dismiss six office bearers of the party on 1 April 2008. The power to dismiss was the bone of contention between the two groups.

For SUPP, it had expected to fill at least two “vacancies” after two of its assistant ministers were defeated in the last State election.

The Pesaka Wing of PBB was desirous to see that the PBB secretary general, Dr. Stephen Rundi was appointed at least an assistant minister in order to strengthen the Dayak wing of the party.

The minor reshuffle, therefore, must have been very urgent that it cannot wait until SUPP delegates conference in December. One speculation is that Taib is not happy with one of the ministers involved in the reshuffle following complaints from the ground that he (the minister) was only concentrating his efforts on his constituency or his community alone; Taib wants them to be the ministers for all communities.

Similarly, the chief minister does not want projects to be poured into constituencies represented by ministers, neglecting those without them or contracts to be given to their own supporters only.

The people from Sri Aman complained to Taib that contracts for government projects have always been given by this minister to his own supporters who come from outside the division, leaving none for the local people. PKR leaders have been picking up these allegations and collecting information before turning the details to relevant authorities. Taib does not want these issues to be capitalized by the Opposition in the coming State election. So possibly that explained the reason for the surprised reshuffle.
Read related news published in The Borneo Post:-

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