Parti Rakyat Sarawak has declared itself the "true custodian" of Dayaks in Sarawak, putting a spoke perhaps in Taib's divide and rule strategy.
SIBU: Was Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing sending out a message to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud with his speech during the party’s eight anniversary dinner here last Saturday?
Masing’s emphasis on PRS being a “truly Dayak party” and that its elected representatives were “all Dayaks” wasn’t just a frivolous statement. It was tactical.
It comes at a time of the rapid ‘Dayak awakening’ amongst the rural native communities courtesy of the alternative media, Radio Free Sarawak and a brazen opposition.
Fueling this ‘awakening’ is the floundering Barisan Nasional partners – Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United Peoples party (SUPP) – who can’t seem to get their act together.
The only ‘water-tight’ party appears to be PRS and Taib’s PBB which incidentally is facing simmering discontent within its Bumiputera wing led by the allegedly much spineless Alfred Jabu Numpang.
The next parliamentary election which must be held by April 2013 will be a challenging one for Sarawak BN’s component parties.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is desperately in need of Sarawak’s 31 seats in view of the fluid political situation in Sabah and in the peninsular.
In the last parliamentary elections in 2008, it was Sabah and Sarawak’s collective 56 seats that helped BN retain Putrajaya. Sabah and Sarawak each lost one seat to the opposition, delivering 54 seats to the federal coalition.
But the current scenario is somewhat different. The latest spin from the ground in Sabah is that the Musa Aman-led BN could lose up to 10 if not 12 of the 25 contestable parliamentary seats.
In Sarawak the seat sharing ratio stands at PPB (14), SUPP (seven) PRS (six) SPDP (4)
As it stands, speculations are rife that BN could lose up to seven seats from amongst SUPP, SPDP and PRS.
Taib, on his part, has guaranteed Najib a return on all 14 of PBB’s parliamentary seats and there’s no reason for the PM to doubt his ability especially after his performance in the last state election. Taib is not too concerned about parliament.
PRS truly represents Dayaks
Parliamentary election’s is not Taib’s top priority, but state is. Rumours are rife that he’s had a finger in the chaos within SUPP, SPDP and PRS. A divided state coalition allows him to have better control of his ‘partners’ and an increasingly empowered native community courtesy of the opposition.
Masing is said to be a thorn in Taib’s side. In the run-up to last year’s state election, Masing, unhappy with Taib constantly ignoring his proposals, met directly with Najib and in one instant managed to thwart attempts to allow an ex-PRS incumbent elected representative, Larry Sng, from contesting.
On Saturday, stamping PRS’ sway over Sarawak’s majority Dayak community, Masing said the party was the “custodian” of Dayak interest and that its elected representatives were “duty bound” to protect the race.
“For all intents and purposes, PRS is the party which truly represents rural constituencies where most of the Dayaks happen to reside.
“Therefore, we do not apologise for who we are and the basis of our political stand and struggles,” he said alluding perhaps to the known ‘issues’ between him and Taib.
Masing further warned members to be wary of “attempts” to stir discontent within the party adding that enemies and approaches came in different forms.
“There are people who are envious of our strength and will try to de-stabilise us. They maybe individuals or groups.
“They will (either) contest against us when the general election is called (or) slyly fight us by pretending to our friends or friends of the group and pull us down.
“The other way is to de-stabilise us is by picking on some of our members who exhibit certain weaknesses. This will be a subtle approach and by people who we are familiar with. Thus without realizing it, we will fall into a trap which will eventually break the party’s solidarity,” said Masing.
Stand up and fight
On a philosophical note, he said the hardest battle to win was the war within each individual.
“Unless and until we can control our (individual) wants and needs, we will become the weak link in the party.
“The battle to control our needs is a lonely battle. We have to fight it on our own. Party members will not be able to help us.
“But if we and our party ideologies and struggles are strong, we will win,” Masing said adding that members must not be afraid to fight for what is right.
“If we are too scared to fight for what we believe are right, we might as well pack our bags and go home because in the next election, the rural population will throw us out.
“When this happens, PRS will lose its seats and Barisan Nasional will lose its power to govern this country,” Masing added.