Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Will Be PKR's Candidate For Batang Ai?

Top leader endorses Bawin as PKR choice

Joe Fernandez, March 15, 2009

Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red.

PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim’s special representative for Sarawak, Jeffrey Kitingan, is in favour of Nicholas Bawin Anggat, the Lubuk Antu division chairman, to take on the BN in Batang Ai.

This is good news, although the final decision has not been made yet. But what is a Sabahan doing as Anwar's special representative for Sarawak? No Sarawakians kah?

“I have studied the matter in great detail and consulted with people on the ground,” said Kitingan, who is also PKR vice-president and the party’s deputy chief in Sabah. However, Kitingan is leaving the final decision to his party boss, Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar heads PKR in both Sabah and Sarawak which have since emerged as the party’s frontline states in the struggle to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya. Bawin (left) himself claimed that he knows who will be the candidate for Batang Ai but is keeping mum. “Let the PKR headquarters make the announcement at a suitable time,” he said.

Kitingan stressed that Bawin, despite all the negative reports on him, will be the best man to challenge Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, 49, selected yesterday by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud as the BN candidate for the by-election. “Bawin may not have won in his previous outings but there are reasons for this including shortage of funds, the logistics involved and electoral fraud,”said Kitingan.

“Bawin is hard-working, he knows the territory well and has been increasingly getting more and more support in Batang Ai over the years. He almost beat the late Dublin (Unting) in the last state election. Only the lack of campaign funds prevented him from clinching victory.”

Kitingan: Bawin’s rival Jawah can wait

Former Lubuk Antu MP Jawah Gerang, also tipped to stand in Batang Ai by his supporters in PKR, will most probably be fielded in the nearby Engkilili seat in the next state election, according to Kitingan. “Between the two of them, Bawin and Jawah, the latter can wait,”he added.

He denies that Bawin has the edge in the party’s selection process because of Jawah’s close links with former PRS deputy president Sng Chee Hwa, who was reportedly instrumental in efforts to wreck his former party and also Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) – where he was senior vice-president, which has since been deregistered. “Of course, Sng is a problem just as he has been in the other parties where he has been involved. Jawah has to distance himself from Sng for his own good and that of the party. We are not a party to collect projects,” said Kitingan.

Good Advice.

This is a view shared by former Baram MP Harrison Ngau Laing, 49, who joined PKR last December after a two-year courtship. “Even Leo Moggie, when he was PBDS president, warned everybody against Sng,” disclosed Laing. Laing, an ex-ISA detainee, is also active in the environmental movement in Sarawak, and in his words, “needs permission to leave the country as I am in List P – a security watchlist - of the Immigration Department.”

Another point against Jawah’s candidacy in Batang Ai is BN’s Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leader James Masing’s oft-repeated charges that the PKR man is responsible for the still unresolved problem of compensation to those affected by the building of the Batang Ai dam.

Masing is not immune either since he has been linked with problems over compensation issues in Bakun, which is expected to feature in the Batang Ai campaign as well, and unhappiness over the state government’s approach to the takeover of NCR (native customary rights) land, among others. “We will be sending some native ex-landowners to Batang Ai to give their personal testimonials on how big business and the state government work together to seize NCR land for themselves,” warned Laing.

However, PRS supreme council member Tedewin Ngumbang Datu, who moves closely with Sarawak PKR leaders and members, begs to differ with Kitingan. He thinks PKR is likely to field Jawah.

“The ex-MP will be seen as the ‘perfect opponent’ for all reasons peculiar to Batang Ai where relations, past liaison, family ties, pedigree, etc, will be the main consideration,” reiterated Ngumbang, seen by his own party leadership as a fence-sitter, despite open professions of his loyalty to Masing.

PRS names Musen as BN candidate

Ngumbang also hints at Jawah’s strong links with Sng, his patron and sponsor for many years, who has reportedly been lobbying Anwar for the former MP’s candidacy in Batang Ai. Both Sng and Jawah left PRS together although Sng’s son, Larry, remains in Taib’s cabinet as a partyless assistant minister and claims to be “the real president of PRS”.

Larry is married to the only daughter of construction magnate, Ting Pek King, who is closely connected with the Taib family and newly-reappointed senator and dark horse in the power game, Effendi Norwawi. One point in favour of the opposition is that the Sarawak BN is divided among themselves on the Batang Ai candidacy with PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu) finding itself isolated on the issue and at loggerheads with the other three BN component parties - PRS, SPDP (Sarawak People’s Democratic Party) and Supp (Sarawak United People’s Party), which apparently took a rare united stand against oft-repeated charges of “PBB bullying”.

james masingMussen was nominated by PRS as the sole candidate by party chief Masing who, contrary to earlier reports, reportedly refused to re-submit a revised list with more than one name as demanded by Taib.

The ailing chief minister, in a huff, refused to announce the name at a press conference and stalked out after reminding Masing starkly that BN chief and outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had yet to endorse his candidate. Masing , undeterred by Taib’s reminder, proceeded to announce at a delayed press conference that Mussen was the BN candidate for Batang Ai.

Abdullah disclosed last night on national TV that he had yet to receive any recommendation for Batang Ai and complained that he - not Masing or Taib - was supposed to make the official announcement on the candidate.

This is believed to be the first time that Masing has crossed swords with Taib in public on an important party matter and suggests that the chief minister may be finally losing his grip on the Sarawak situation as the economy takes a worst than expected tumble in the face of government inaction and a continued state of denial.

“I think Mussen is the best candidate to win the by-election,” a confident Masing told reporters after the State BN supreme council meeting at the PBB headquarters yesterday. “He is a well-educated, hardworking and helpful person. He is also a humble man.”

So were Taib, Jabu and Masing themselves at one time, a very long time ago.

Masing added the party had chosen Mussen, an engineer with the state Agriculture Department, from among several potential candidates.

Apparently, the late father of the aspiring BN candidate was a very influential headman in Engkilili, the state seat next to Batang Ai, both in the Lubuk Antu parliamentary constituency.

Mussen is not a member of PRS, only a sympathiser, and is expected to join the party after resigning from the state government next week.

PM to make official announcement

abdullah visits taib mahmud 110206Meanwhile, it is learnt from reliable PBB sources that Taib will be forwarding a name, perhaps names, to Abdullah for his consideration and the official announcement is likely to be made tomorrow by the outgoing prime minister.

The fear among PRS leaders is that Taib’s recommendation to Abdullah will give Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang “a golden last chance” to push his idea that PBB should “loan” a candidate to PRS despite such moves compromising and circumventing the of-cited and time-honoured BN concept of power-sharing.

Insiders say that Jabu sat sullen-faced, saying very little, during the State BN supreme council meeting, reportedly prompting Taib to remark: “Fred, manah meeting sehari tu nadai maioh jaku. (Fred, it is good to have a meeting today with little discussions).”

Taib and Jabu pretending here and having a secret joke at Masing's expense.

The name often mentioned by Jabu is Lubuk Antu district officer Nelson Mujah Giri, a brother of federal minister and senior PBB vice-president Douglas Uggah. The idea is to ask Mujah “to join PRS” and then name him as the candidate for Batang Ai for the BN. Mujah, an Iban from Betong, has since been appointed the returning officer for Batang Ai.

Jabu has “bulldozed” through his “loan” candidates in the past to other BN component parties despite charges of “PBB bullying”. Lubuk Antu MP William Nyallu and Sri Aman MP Mesir Kujat, both from PBB, are “on loan” to PRS. Should a candidate other than Mussen be announced by Abdullah in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, the state BN machinery will be off to a rocky start in Batang Ai. However, PBB members and leaders in the area are confident of the coalition clinching victory.—

A post on Sarawak Talk has this to say, however:

"Mossen is only a scapegoat. Not Masing's choice

Sarawak Headhunter believes he meant "sacrificial lamb".

Posted by but only to please CM thru Jabu on March 15, 2009 at 13:31:46:
i was in the meeting with some of the PBB big boys and this is the actual scenario. Masing's choice is a different guy and not Mossen. Mossen is Jabu's man. But since CM is not happy with Masing for some various reasons including his link to Answar Ibrahim he met secretly last time. so in order to please CM, he just agree with Jabu's proposal so that thru Jabu, Masing relationship with CM will be Ok again.

But knowing CM very well, the scar in him due to PBDS last time, he never thrust Masing at all. Masing is the type of person that will stab CM with a dagger in his sleep. But if you read in the newspaper, Masing pretend to say that Mossen is his man, prs choice n bla bla bla. that is all gimmick. but we all know that Mossen is Jabu's man.

And knowing Jabu very well, he wants to control every iban's hal ehwal and want to be called RAJA IBAN. Jabu will never step down as long as he live because only with his position now, he has the power to control and interfere in all the iban's affair.

Mossen is the type of person that is not easy to be control. he has a mind of his own. so he only obey Jabu but not Masing. he just pretending to obey Masing only from time to time. and this is not what Masing's wants. A YB that is hard to be control. so my friends, as you all know now, MASING IS IN A REAL DEEP SHIT and NOT IN THE GOOD BOOK OF CM NOW."

Perhaps this is why Masing gets bullied all the time. Taib may be trying to provoke him and see for how long Masing can swallow his pride - Taib is highly capable of doing that and more, what more when he has Afraid Jabu to help him rub it in as well.

Comment by Apai taken from Cobbold's blog, DayakNation:

Apai, on March 13th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I am sure Batang Ai voters relish the thought of Masing's self-appointment as Director of Operations for the said constituency. Here is the man who was deeply involved in the socio-economic study on the impact of the first Dam.

Let him explain the ugly truths about what is happening in the constituency - have the Ibans of Batang Ai reaped the the harvest of the Dam as promised? Have the people enjoyed rural electrification programmes, feeder roads, rural health programmes and other basic infrastructures and amenities?

In short is there any improvement in their standard of living?

And again here is the man whose stark record on the Bakun project is on public record - has he collected from Tan Sri Ting the RM5 million pledged for the benefit of of Belaga residents?

There again Tan Sri’s son in law is still an assistant minister in spite of being dismissed from PRS. That assistant minister post is PRS's quota. What is Masing going to preach in Batang Ai?

Let us wait for his honest campaign then? Hence Masing cannot dismiss outright bloggers' roles in this election or else Masing cannot enter into a meaningful dialogue with informed voters.

I am definite that this discipline of engaging into dialogue with people was instilled into him when he did his PhD. Or has Masing become Jabu - "do not mess around with the Ibans" - I wish to point out that Jabu is preaching bloodletting, is being racial in tone and is exploiting the Iban base barbaric nature, which is contrary to what is actually happening on the ground.

When the Ibans are adopting other races as their son, never mind if Masing is asking for an adoption certificate, I find it strange to come out of Jabu's mouth. To Masing he is just parroting Taib's policy - you cannot produce a title then it is state land. To Jabu he knew for a fact that that particular incident where a Muslim died in a longhouse where Anwar visited was due to the wrath of Iban gods?

Maybe Masing told him it is "The Coming of the Gods". Is this what Masing/Jabu are going to preach because both of them are bankrupt of ideas?

To the voters of Batang Ai let me tell you what Jayum A Jawan wrote in his book "Leadership and Development" at page 42 the last paragraph - "What am I prepared to do to help provide better prospects and future for my children and grandchildren? The answer lies in the hands of each Iban individual - not in the hands of Iban assemblymen."

So translate it into votes otherwise - the distribution of the benefits of development might be equated to a durian season; by the time the Ibans came to the communal orchard farm, all the fruits are gone; what is left is only the smell.

Remember the answer lies in your hands - not in the hands of Masing, Mawan and Jabu.

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