Wednesday, June 30


By Joseph Tawie

(This story was first published by The Malaysian Mirror and is updated and published for the readers of The Broken Shield)

KUCHING - After eight years in the political doldrums, Sarawak National Party has been given a new lease of life after the Court of Appeal on 23 June 2010 set aside the decision of the Registrar of Societies to deregister the party.

But what is SNAP’s future like? Will the Dayaks return to the party? Is SNAP that was the pride of the Dayaks in the 1970s when it had 18 State assemblymen and nine MPs, able to recapture its past glory? Or will it be able to capitalize on the sentiments of the Dayaks against the Barisan Nasional government and the authorities? And what are SNAP’s directions?

These are some of the questions that many Dayaks and non-Dayaks are asking and demanding to know.

Many believe SNAP can attain its past glory, but to do that it must be led by someone who has the charismatic personality – the bold and the fearless.

“Change of leadership must be made, if it is going to play a major role in both State and national politics. During these eight years, SNAP was left with a skeleton of members as many had left due to the uncertainty of its fate with the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over its head,” said a former SNAP leader.

Its performances in those years in two parliamentary elections and one state election against the Barisan Nasional were not only dismal, but to the point of being embarrassed, considering the fact that at one time it was the party to be reckoned with.

On 10 April 1961, SNAP that became the third party to be formed after Sarawak United People’s Party and Party Negara Sarawak opened the way for the Dayaks to play active politics just before Sarawak obtaining its independence 1963. Synonymous with Dayak politics, it produced Sarawak’s first Chief Minister in the person of Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

However, SNAP’s fortunes began to decline after the 1982 leadership crisis during which James Wong took over the leadership at the expense of the support of the Dayaks who formed between 80 percent and 90 percent of the party membership. That crisis led to the formation of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in 1983.

But the 2002 crisis, another leadership crisis, between Wong and a group of Dayaks led by Peter Tinggom dealt a fatal blow to the party when the Registrar of Societies decided to deregister it on 5 November 2002 ignoring the appeals from both sides.

Basically, the crisis was triggered with the expulsion of the MP for Bintulu Tiong King Sing over an issue involving the construction of a TV3 station in Bintulu.

The party accused Tiong of failing to honour his word of donating RM1.5 million to finance part of the project which was RM4 million. Both the Federal Government and TV3 agreed to come up with RM1 million and RM1.5 million respectively.

Tiong who was then treasurer general of the party denied that he had promised to come up with the money.

However, SNAP found Tiong guilty as charged under Article V, Clause (iii) and (vi) of the party constitution.

“Article V – Expulsion of members
(iii) Destroys or attempts to destroy the integrity and good name of the party; or and

(vi) Incites hatred and animosity amongst members or against any Party leaders.”

The case against Tiong was heard on 11 April 2002 at the party headquarters. All the Central Working Committee members attended the meeting.

Before the expulsion order was mentioned, nine members of the CWC led by Tinggom staged a walk-out in protest against the decision. They found that Tiong’s expulsion was flawed when two of the seven appointed CWC members took part in the decision.

The appointment of the two had not been lodged with the Registrar of Societies, although the party constitution to increase the appointed members from five to seven was amended and endorsed in 2000 TGM.

Thus all decisions including expelling Tiong made by the CWC with votes from the seven appointed members were invalid, null and void.

William Mawan, then the Minister of the Environment and Public Health, and obviously the leader of the group brought up the matter with the ROS. The protracted crisis led to the party’s deregistration and the formation of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party. But SNAP applied for stay of execution pending its appeal to the Court of Appeal.

That exactly is the story.

Since that crisis and the demise of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in October 2004 also due to leadership crisis, had left Dayaks who were not with Barisan Nasional in political limbo.

Now that the Court of Appeal has made its decision in SNAP’s favour, many Dayaks both outside and within the Barisan Nasional are closely watching SNAP’s next move.
The first thing they are interested to know is when SNAP will be holding its TGM and the election of new office-bearers in the next two or three months.

Can they bring in new professionals and the thousands of ex-PBDS members to join the party?

To them this is vital if the party wants to be respected and to be reckoned with. They feel that SNAP should try especially to woo the ex-PBDS members who are still angry with the BN government and authorities for deregistering PBDS and for refusing to register Malaysian Dayak Congress as a political party to replace PBDS.

“We are closely watching SNAP’s next move,” said Daniel Tajem, a former senior vice-president before he was kicked out from the party in 1983.

Many prefer SNAP to remain in the Pakatan Rakyat as it can form the “Dayak arm” of the coalition. At the moment the Dayak interests are being covered by the multi-racial PKR whereas the Chinese and the Malay interests are being looked after by DAP and PAS respectively.

But a BN leader who refuses to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter believes that if SNAP is to remain in PR it may live to regret its decision.
To him, returning to BN should be an ideal and strategic move. Firstly, it can claim back all the seats now under the hands of SPDP. After all, SPDP is the “pretender”. So SPDP can be advised to dissolve and return to SNAP. After all SPDP is the off-spring of SNAP. From here, it can slowly and surely gain its past glory.

To his knowledge SNAP has never been expelled from the BN nor has it left the BN. This has been confirmed by SNAP Secretary General Stanley Jugol.

The BN leader says that once in BN, SNAP (including the dissolved SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak can discuss the merger of the two parties. Currently the merger between PRS and SPDP goes nowhere as there are obstacles that both parties are unable to solve.

“This is the bigger picture that SNAP must think in the interest of the future of Dayaks in this country,” he said.

But the question is: is SPDP prepared to dissolve itself for the bigger interest of the Dayak community? And the other big problem is that whether the Barisan Nasional component parties are ready to accept SNAP back.

Chief Minister and Chairman of State BN Abdul Taib Mahmud has made it very clear that only a collective decision by the BN parties can determine whether SNAP can return to the coalition.

“A lot of waters have gone under the bridge. I have to discuss it with other parties,” he said.

No doubt there are people including Dayaks themselves who do not wish Dayaks to be united under one political umbrella as this will pose a threat to their positions. In fact they prefer the current political scenario whereby the Dayaks are split right, left and centre: some are in SNAP, PKR, PRS, SPDP, PBB and even SUPP.

This results in Dayaks having weak and ineffective voice in articulating the community’s hopes and aspirations. And yet the Barisan Nasional parties consider the Dayaks as their “fixed deposits” in the coming election as they the urban voters are no longer reliable.

Given a new lease of life and the possible injection of new blood including professionals into the party, can SNAP be able to convince the Dayaks in the rural areas to support its political struggle and to reduce the BN’s “fixed deposits”?

This is its biggest test.


apai irau said...

SNAPis among the "Original" one,borned out of social and political conscience of the early fighters to fight for the Dayaks cause in particular and for every race in Sarawak in general.After some years,the party fell into the hands of those who didnt really care for the party and the rakyat but more towards personal glory and interest.Consequentially,turmoils surfaced one after another.Now SNAP is having its real life,and my utmost hope is for the present leaders and members to convert it into a force to be reckoned with,albeit not like its days in the 60s and 70s but gradually regains its strenght.Individual who put self interest above the party should not be allowed to join or to stay in the party,it should be administered transparently and however small the issues are they should be solved in fair manner.

Anonymous said...

SNAP must weigh the pros and cons very carefully.

The scenario for both sides sounds very exciting.

However, the most important question was not asked and is very pertinent to SNAP which is WHO WILL LEAD SNAP? this question is relevant whether they are in the opposition or in BN.

Question 1: Will Masing and Mawan agree to the "Big Picture"? I doubt it. Masing's ego is just too big. After all he considers Mawan to be the uneducated fool with fake hair and not educated like him with a PHD in Iban Poetry.

Question 2: Will all Dayaks unite under SNAP? Unity is not exactly a trait that is synonymous to the Dayaks? Will the other parties be happy that SNAP will be courting their existing Dayak members?

That is all that needs to be answered.

Salak said...

Cannot yet snoop into SNAP's future. They had apparently helped PR and with thawing in ROS might mean PBB don't want them any more.

SNAP's history has good value and if despite trials and tribulation they can maintain their old flame, it has a greater future. If present leaders don't value this, SNAP will be snooked!!!

Uchu aki Biat said...

SPDP and PRS are the splitters of SNAP. Would Masing and Mawan dissolves their parties and join SNAP for Dayak`s unity?

Mata Kuching said...

While it was all joy and jubilation for SNAP to be back and as a partner with DAP, PKR and PAS in Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak, it should reassess its support level in all its traditional strong areas before making wholesale demand for all these seats to be given to them. For instance, SNAP should concede the seat for Bakalalan to Baru Bian of PKR who is the best choice to wrest the seat from UMNO controlled BN.

SNAP should immediately strengthen its administration and communication. A lot of garbage such as updated financial accounts, membership list, and whatnot needs to be cleared too after being in the doldrums for the past 8 years.

SNAP should be able to attract the younger Dayak intellectuals and those from PBB, SPDP and PRS or even SUPP to its new political struggle under Pakatan Rakyat.