In Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), some leaders have expressed unhappiness with the way Taib has handled the PRS crisis. Since Larry Sng has been expelled from the party, PRS leaders want him replaced as assistant minister. But Taib still retains Larry.
PRS has also demanded why it is not given chairmanships of some government-linked companies (GLCs) and the way NCR land has been seized from landowners. Not only compensations are not paid, the landowners have also been evicted from their ancentral land now declared as “State land”. James Masing’s ministry of land development has come up with proper land development to deal with NCR land and applications have been submitted, but the applications are either delayed or simply kept in the files.
It is understood that Masing has sent a note to the chief minister seeking explanations as to why no actions have been taken on his projects, some of which he submitted three or four years ago. He has even questioned whether this government is really serious to see that the NCR land is developed properly.
As seen by his supporters, Masing is clearly a powerless minister. He even does not have a say in SALCRA’s policies and development, although it is under his ministry. The chairman of the board is more powerful than him just because he is Alfred Jabu, deputy chief minister. Masing has complained to Taib about this strange arrangement, but Taib simply refuses to listen to him.
All these complaints have made Masing unpopular with Taib Mahmud, because Taib does not tolerate anyone questioning his authority. This is what had happened to Daniel Tajem when he served under Taib's cabinet in the 1980s.
So is Dr. James Masing becoming the second “Daniel Tajem” to have fallen out of favour with Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Sarawak’s longest serving and most powerful chief minister?
Like Tajem, Masing was once the “blue-eyed” boy of Taib Mahmud, especially during the height of the leadership crisis in Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in 2003 and this crisis led to the deregistration of the party on 21 October 2004; and he helped Masing to form PRS and to admit it to the BN family.
But things have gone wrong since 2006 when PRS was bogged down with a leadership crisis of its own and the way things are going now between Masing and Taib seem to confirm the “cool” relationship between the two men.
Masing was reported to have told his supporters recently that they must be prepared for the worst as they “have been squeezed” now. Masing did not explain what he meant by the word “squeezed”.
Certainly, the strong statement made by Beginda Minda on 25 October 2008 accusing PBB, and indirectly Taib Mahmud, of being a big bully is making things worse between PRS and PBB and between Masing and Taib. Beginda, publicity officer of PRS’s Baleh Division cited a number of examples to prove his point.
Among others, he specifically mentioned the nomination of candidates in the March election for the parliamentary constituencies of Lubok Antu and Sri Aman. Although Beginda did not reveal much detail, let me quote an excerpt from a book, The Broken Shield under the heading “Nyallau and Masir are PBB men?"
“Both William Nyallau and Masir Kujat were alleged to have been PBB men planted in PRS. Their selection was not done by Masing, but by PBB. Masing’s choice for Lubok Antu was a young professional, Desmond Sateng, who had been with Masing since the days of PBDS. But his choice was rejected. Insiders in PRS said that the District Officer, Lubok Antu Nelson Mujah had prepared a ‘resume’ for Nyallau and strongly recommended him to be a candidate. That resume was alleged to have been passed to Alfred Jabu and then to the chief minister.
“When Masing heard about Nyallau’s candidacy on the morning of 24 February, he immediately phoned Desmond that the seat had been ‘hijacked’ and apologized to him for missing the boat. As Desmond was young, Masing hoped he would be patient.
“As for Masir, it was a different story. Although Masir worked as a Principal Assistant Secretary in the office of the minister of land development, Dr. James Masing, he was not the first choice to contest. Masing had picked Doris Brodie, a loyalist to be the candidate for Sri Aman. But when the list came out, it was Masir who was named the candidate. Masing, Mong Dagang, the State Assemblyman for Bukit Begunan, and their supporters were unhappy. But there was nothing they could do as the decision had been made by Taib Mahmud.
“According to Donald Lawan, former State Assemblyman for Bukit Begunan and now a businessman, Masir’s selection was because of him. ‘For two hours I met the chief minister regarding Masir’s candidacy. I am responsible for his selection and not Masing,’ he said.
“Lawan’s open bragging about his closeness with the chief minister and his wealth not only alienated Mong’s supporters, but also seemed to confirm PRS members’ suspicion that Masir was a PBB man planted through Lawan. Lawan was and is known to be a PBB man ever since he was interested in politics in the 1980s.”
In West Malaysia, MCA, MIC and Gerakan have started to question the “big brother’s role” of UMNO and have blamed UMNO president, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for their defeats. Abdullah is now accepting the blame and is handing over the leadership of UMNO and by convention the prime ministership to his deputy.
In Parliament last week, the Ulu Rajang MP, Billy Abit Joo, PRS vice president showed that he dared to be different when he joined the ranks of Opposition MPs in signing a petition to review the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA). He is a true leader of the people.
Now Beginda has started the ball rolling. But will the ball continue to roll in an effort to expose abuses of power, cases of bully, discrimination, injustices and corruption in the State? Will you be one of them from BN to continue to kick the ball?