Sarawak Barisan Nasional chairman Taib Mahmud can claim 'no interference' on his part in the coalition's partners' internal affairs but history tells a different story.
KUCHING: Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s statement that he does not want to interfere in the affairs of other component parties in the state has amused Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.
Bian, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, has known Taib for about 30 years, since the days of the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS). Bian was then a PBDS supreme council member.
Bian recalled that every time there were political problems affecting any of the Dayak political parties in the state Barisan Nasional, there was always someone behind it.
“Some people are trying to break up the Dayaks in Sarawak. I think we notice from the time of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak, there were some people who did not want us to be strong politically so they come and interfere and split us,” said Bian.
PBDS was deregistered on Oct 24, 2004 following a leadership crisis and at the same time it gave birth to the formation of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) led by James Masing.
Allegations linked PBDS demise to Taib as is now being said of the strive within BN partners Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic party (SPDP).
Both are on the threshold of becoming irrelevant in Sarawak’s political landscape.
Said Bian: “I am amused by what he (Taib) said. We must examine the context of the whole statement. Did he say it intentionally or does he want SUPP to disintegrate.
“He statement has more or less confirmed that he has a hand in every crisis of party in the Barisan Nasional. After all he is the chairman.
“His statement says that he is no longer an expert, meaning to say that he was one time an expert. That is how I look at it. It appears to me he wants to divide SUPP further,”
Bian was asked to comment on Taib’s statement last week that he did not wish to interfere in the internal problems of SUPP and SPDP.
Taib said he had “already offered” his opinions and advice to the leaders of the two parties, “but there does not seem to be any development in solving the problem.”
“As for SPDP, leave them alone for now,” said Taib, adding that he “was no longer an expert in giving advice.”
However Taib did add that while he chose not to interfere in the parties’ problems, he was not ‘washing hands’ off their affairs.
“My main responsibility in Sarawak is to ensure every race in the state can participate in the transformation of the state,” he said.
Taib’s reiteration of his ‘responsibility’ has only served to stoke old memories.
Bian recalled that every time there were political problems affecting any of the Dayak political parties, there was always someone behind it.
“The caution I would like to make is whether it is the chief minister or someone else what is obvious is that that there seems to be consistency of interference by someone in all Dayak-based parties since the time of Sarawak National Party (Snap).
“It looks like somebody is constantly trying to engineer our (disunity) from behind.
“Look at Snap which split twice, one in 1983 and the other in 2002.
“Whether Snap, PBDS, PRS or SPDP now, there seems to be a trend of consistency and symptom that someone is always trying to split our people,” Bian stressed.
Dayak BN leaders gutless
He said that some Dayak leaders are aware of the attempt (to split Dayaks), but they do not dare to make a stand because of their personal interest.
“And of course within the fold of Barisan Nasional, they do not want to hurt one another’s feelings. So they continue to keep quiet.
“But then they are doing that at the expense of the Dayaks at large.
“They are being used by someone to suppress the Dayaks. Take the NCR land issues and the amendment to the Land Code as examples.
“You remember the passing of the amendment to the Land Code in June 2000 which is very damaging to the interests of native landowners, some Dayak ministers and leaders describe it (the passing of the amendment) as ‘gawai gift’ and ‘jewel in the crown of Barisan’.
“By supporting policies that are detrimental to the Dayaks, they are actually tools to destroy the Dayaks,” Bian said.