Speculations are rife that chief ministers of both Sarawak and Sabah are lobbying for a bigger representation in the federal cabinet.
KUCHING May 9, 2013: Sarawak’s predominantly Dayak community delivered to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak 25 parliamentary seats in the tumultuous general election on May 5 and the general consensus here is that its loyalty and contribution must be acknowledged by the top leadership, not just in words but in full-fledged ministerial posts.
Sarawak has 31 and Sabah 25 parliamentary seats. Both states collectively delivered 48 seats to Barisan Nasional’s 133 tally which aided their contentious retention of the federal government.
Speculations were rife, as early as Monday, that Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and Sabah’s Musa Aman were ‘fiercely’ lobbying for Najib to meet Borneo’s desire for a Deputy Prime Minister’s post and for more federal ministers posts to be given to Borneo’s Dayak community (which includes KadazanDusunMuruts).
Yesterday, even as Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) chief William Mawan was rumoured poised for a federal position along with four-term Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing, another local party, Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) had put in its call for its sole surviving MP Richard Riot to be made a full minister.
SPDP retained all its four parliamentary seats and is expecting to be justly rewarded with more positions in the federal level. The party’s candidates in Baram – Anyi Ngau – and Mas Gading – Anthony Nogeh – had defied the odds to win their seats.
In the last federal cabinet, SPDP had two deputy ministers – Jelaing Mersat (Transport Ministry) and Jacob Dungau Sagan (International Trade and Industry Ministry).
Also on the same escalator with its demands is James Masing, president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS). PRS also retained all its five seats.
SUPP, which was allotted seven seats however lost six – Stampin, Bandar Kuching, Sarikei, Sibu, Lanang – to DAP, and Miri to PKR. It retained Serian through Riot.
Apparently Riot’s victory was due to the strong support given by the Bidayuh voters who form 83.2% of a 33,764 strong electorate, while Chinese form about 9.4%.
In the 2011 state polls, SUPP, a Chinese majority party, did just as badly. DAP won 15 seats, mostly held by SUPP, while PKR wrested three.
Riot for ‘full minister’
Yesterday SUPP’s Central Working Committee (CWC) held an emergency meeting and strongly recommended that Riot, a Dayak-Bidayuh, be made a full minister.
In the last parliament, SUPP had one minister (Peter Chin, Energy, Green Technology and Water) and two deputy ministers – Riot ( Foreign Affairs), and Yong Khoon Seng(Works).
All in all, SUPP had five MPs in the last parliament.
Riot, a six term MP, when contacted, said: “I leave it to the Prime Minister.”
He however did add that the responsibilities that came with a ministerial-post would be “heavier” on him because he would also now be a “sole voice” in parliament in voicing the Chinese community’s need as well as that of his Bidayuh community.
It is speculated that Riot, aged 62, would likely takeover the Energy, Green Technology and Water ministry left vacant by SUPP president Peter Chin or the Plantation Industries and Commodities ministry portfolio.
Chin who was Miri incumbent did not defend his seat and instead nominated his political secretary Sebastian Ting. Ting lost to PKR’s Dr Michael Teo by a 1,992 vote majority.
Meanwhile Dompok, who was former minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, lost his Penampang parliamentary seat to PKR’s Darrel Leiking by over 10,000 vote majority.
In Sandakan, another minister, VK Liew, lost his seat by 1,088 majority to his DAP opponent Wong Tien Fatt.