Malaysiakini's report: Taib, Jabu urged to step down by S. Pathmawathy
Now Parti Rakyat Sarawak’s (PRS) former publicity head of its Balleh division Beginda Minda has boldly called on PBB president Abdul Taib Mahmud to step down as Sarawak chief minister.
Revealing bundles of flawed strategies in the Taib administration on Mkini.tv’s 'Uncensored' talk show, Beginda also held long-serving Iban Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu equally responsible for the agony and sufferings of the Dayak community, adding that “Jabu should also seriously consider retirement as soon as possible".
"Taib’s era has passed. It is time for him to give way to the younger generation to take over the reins of power in Sarawak. Twenty seven years as chief minister is long enough," Beginda told 'Uncensored' host Francis Paul Siah.
Beginda insisted that he was not launching a personal attack at these two Sarawak leaders but that he has decided to come out publicly to “say what has to be said” as he (Beginda) is also a member of a BN component party.
“My request is for Taib and Jabu to step down gracefully and retire as honourable and respected statesmen. Surely, it is better to go that way than to be forced out of office through people’s power,” he reasoned.
"It is clear to most people that the days when they (Taib and Jabu) have been most effective and most active are nearly gone. There are now many capable and qualified younger people with fresh ideas and bolder visions to lead the state.
"Taib has been active in politics since the first days of independence in 1963 and has been chief minister of Sarawak since 1981. Alfred Jabu has been in active politics since 1974 and was made deputy chief minister shortly after.
"Admittedly, these two gentlemen have done much for Sarawak. There have been pluses, I grant that, but there are many negatives as well," he said.
Row, row, row your boat to Kapit
Beginda touched on several issues close to the hearts of Sarawak Dayaks during the interview. He spoke at length on the land issue, uneven development in the state, lack of employment opportunities and the ‘sufferings’ of his Iban community.
“It is a fact that after 45 long years of independence, many areas in Sarawak are still not being developed, including my hometown of Kapit.
"Kapit is still the same as it has been during the colonial time of the British. During the time of Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke, we were rowing sampans as there were no roads to get out of Kapit.
“Today, there are still no roads linking Kapit to other towns and we still have to use boats ... only that this time, the boats have engines.
"I know that the two gentlemen (Taib and Jabu) will not be able to tolerate my public expression of these grouses. But the truth must be told. Enough is enough … my advice to them is not to wait until people demonstrate in the streets," he said.
Beginda also reiterated that PBB has an ‘apparent policy’ of undermining their coalition partners in "varying degrees of subtlety".
"The BN partners - Sarawak United People's Party (Supp), PRS or Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) - are in themselves complete organisations and their interests need to be respected. Interference by a senior partner, no matter the guise, is a form of bullying.
"Bullying goes against the grain of good and just participation in political affairs and dilutes the effectiveness of coalition partners when in fact they (the partners) should be effective and are seen as effective.
"Inevitably a coalition partner which is denied an effective delivery system will be held in ever diminishing esteem by the electorate," said Beginda.
Beginda was removed as publicity chief of the PRS Balleh division on Oct 27 following his ‘bully’ statement published in Malaysiakini two days earlier. He maintained he has no regrets over what he said.
Asked whether Taib could be behind the disbandment of Dayak-based parties, Beginda said: "It is very clear."
"One of the impacts of political interference has been to wreck the political cohesiveness of the Dayak people.
"Every decade, it seems that the Dayaks have to create a new party and as long as the party is young and new, it will be a junior partner. This is what PBB wants," said Beginda.
“If you look at the history of Snap, PBDS, SPDP and PRS, you will know what I am talking about,” he added.
Allow Dayaks to own their land
Beginda also rebuked Sarawak's land policies which have not been reviewed since the 1960s although Taib has been in power for 27 years.
"There have been many disputes over land ownership and the exploitation of resources, such as timber, which have pitted timber companies against natives who have traditionally regarded tracts of land to be theirs," he lamented.
"In Sarawak million of acres of NCR land are affected and the economic opportunity for the Dayaks from their lands are lost. The natives need the ownership of their lands to be put in order through proper surveying," said Beginda.
He urged the state government to adhere to growing public dissatisfaction regarding land policy and ensure commitment to review current land policies.
"The uproar last month in Bekenu Sibuti, where the Kedayan people were under threat of an eviction order apparently made to make way for plantation development, need not have happened if a proper land policy that protects native lands and if a proper land adjudication had been put in place.
"This is no longer just an abuse of power but oppression of the people. If this goes on, the natives will lose everything," he said.
On the matter of Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) which maintains land development and social-economic wealth of the state, Beginda said: "Salcra could do a much better job but it is not doing that".
"There are grumblings that participants do not get the so called 'dividends' that they feel they are entitled to or that their lands have been bought over by those with vested interests.
"Yet it is possible for Salcra to do very well and earn the participants plenty of rewards had legislations and measures been introduced which prevent estate lands from being sold and transferred to other parties.
"For instance, Felda, the federal government's land development agency, is so well run that it is now prepared to spread its operation overseas. Why can't Salcra be as successful as Felda?" he asked.
No job opportunities in Sarawak
Beginda also raised grouses relating to employment opportunities in the state, where although Sarawak is rich in resources, large number of the natives still flee to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore in search of employment.
"We have plenty of timber, coal, oil and gas. These are ingredients for a strong economy. We should be an employment haven ... yet now in Sarawak we have problems regarding the economy and employment.
"In Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, there are as many as 60,000 Sarawakians. In Johor alone, more than 16,000 Sarawakians are employed there.
"Ask them why they prefer to work in Peninsular Malaysia and most will reply that there are better job opportunities there.
"Why can't Sarawak create jobs for its own people?"
"Surely, it is now time for a change of leadership," he added.
Towards the end of the show, Beginda spoke in Iban as he made an impassioned appeal to his community to stay focussed and united as they demand for their rights in Sarawak - malaysiakini.com