Taken from: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/103007
With Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s cabinet reshuffle imminent, focus is on Larry Sng, an assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department and assistant minister of industrial development, who has been ‘party-less’ since April last year.
Is Taib going to retain or drop him? That is the question many people, especially members of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), are pondering.
Sng was expelled from PRS after a leadership crisis which began in May 2006 and which led to the election of two presidents in the party with two sets of supreme councils and two headquarters.
While Sng was ‘elected’ to be president of one faction, James Masing, on the other hand, was ‘elected’ to head the other faction by his own supporters.
Sng (pic above) had a promising career with PRS, holding a senior post in the party when it was formed following the de-registration of the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in 2004.
Elected at the Iban-majority Pelagus constituency on a PBDS ticket on his first electoral outing in 2002, Sng was then appointed assistant minister two years later at the tender age of 25 in a cabinet reshuffle.
It is known that he was strongly recommended to the chief minister by Masing in order to show his (Masing’s) gratitude to Larry’s father Sng Chee Hua, who together with Masing successfully de-registered PBDS to form PRS.
Sng’s appointment as assistant minister by-passed some of the most senior state assembly persons in the party.
Will Taib entertain Masing’s request?
But the fall-out began when the young and ambitious Sng challenged Masing for the top post of the Dayak-based PRS, a move considered by observers to be Sng’s biggest mistake.
Sensing a threat to his leadership, Masing then expelled Sng’s men from the party in order to curtail his influence.
The expulsion of party secretary-general Sidi Munan, deputy publicity chief Earnest Chua and supreme council member Sng Chee Beng, plus the ‘reassignment’ of Sng himself from deputy secretary-general to publicity chief triggered the protracted leadership crisis in the party.
One effect of the expulsions was that the party split down the middle with each faction ‘electing’ their own presidents both with their own supreme councils and party headquarters. The two protagonists proceeded to accuse each other of conducting party affairs illegally.
The problem was more or less solved when the Registrar of Societies on April 1 last year recognised Masing’s power under the party’s constitution to hire and fire officials and office -bearers. Sng and members of his faction were then expelled.
In the latest development, Masing (pic below) yesterday wrote to the chief minister to officially inform him that Sng was no longer a PRS member and that he should be replaced by another state assemblyperson from the party in the cabinet.
Masing’s request has placed Taib in a quandary although it is the chief minister’s prerogative to select any one to be in his cabinet.
Will Taib entertain Masing’s request? To not do so would mean that Taib does not regard PRS as an important partner in the state BN coalition and already there are grumbles in PRS that Taib is ‘bullying’ the party.
Drop Sng, and Taib will have to incur the wrath of Sng’s rich and famous father-in-law, Ting Phek Khiing, who is also Taib’s close ally.
Keeping a low profile
But nobody knows what game is Taib is playing. Seemingly, Masing has an advantage as he has seven state assembly persons and six parliamentarians with him.
Looking at the matter from this perspective explains why the promised cabinet reshuffle has been delayed a number of times, generating more interest along the way not only in PRS, but also among the Dayak community as they speculate on Taib’s next move.
Many think that Taib may not carry out the reshuffle although there are a number of vacancies which have yet to be filled especially after Sarawak United People’s Party’s (Supp) two assistant ministers were defeated in the 2006 state election.
The best solution for Taib, observers say, would be to carry on as usual until the next state election due in mid- 2011 or earlier. This way, he neither pleases nor incurs the wrath of anyone.
Sng, meanwhile, is keeping a low profile and concentrating on discharging his duties. He refuses to comment on rumours that he may join Supp soon.
On his political future, he will leave it to the chief minister. “I am not a fortune-teller so I don’t think I have business telling the future,” he said.
“There are a lot of things to do and serving the people is my priority now. I intend to continue serving the people until the people think that there are better people to serve them and their interests.”