It was a day of “Pomp and Pagentry” when Sarawak celebrated the TYT’s Yang di Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Hj.Muhammad Salahuddin 87th Official Birthday. Just past noon suddenly the handphones started going berserk as Malaysiakini carried a report PRS: UMNO is a bully,so is PBB.
Of course when it happens to your own party you will be frantic and say,”Really..!! let me check and let me get back to you.” I don’t want to draw any conclusions”. The top officials were notified and clarifications were necessary. A phone call was also made to Baginda and he said he signed on all the Press releases. An UMNO protem executive member who called audie61 said that,”Damaging statement but lets “double-check” before we point fingers.”
This Malaysiakini statement from Balleh PRS publicity chief Beginda Minda ,”has described Umno at the federal level and Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) in Sarawak as ‘too dominant’ and indeed are ‘bullies’ in their dealings with smaller component parties in the Barisan Nasional.”
Taking a cue from the statement of former MCA president Ong Ka Ting who has expressed similar sentiments,”tendency of one party dominance has an adverse impact on public perception and intra BN relationships.”
“It is my view that in Sarawak, PRS, a component party inside the state and federal Barisan Nasional has been bullied by what could collectively be called the “BN leadership,” he said in a statement to Malaysiakini today
Elaborating, Beginda explained that in the case of Sarawak, the BN system has generated a state level entity where there has been one dominant party, the PBB which is leading the state BN government.PBB president Abdul Taib Mahmud is also state BN chair and chief minister of Sarawak for the past 27 years.
He has long been described as Sarawak’s most powerful personality and is known to be intolerant of dissent within the party’s ranks.
“Just as there is a public perception of Umno being too dominant at the national level, there is also a similar perception that in Sarawak, the dominant role of PBB has had an effect on the conduct of smaller parties, such as PRS,” Beginda said.
Prime Minister and national BN chair Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has responded immediately to Ong’s remarks on Oct 18, denying that Umno has bullied others in the BN. Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib has also asked for proofs of Umno bullying.
Responding to Muhammad Taib’s request, Beginda cited two recent instances of Umno and PBB bullying PRS.
The first was during the 2006 state election when a component BN party was ‘allowed’ to steal a PRS seat
“Neither the state nor federal BN intervened effectively to stop a component party from interfering in the affairs of another. Where was BN when effective action was needed? It was as if the BN was shutting its proverbial “eye” to the intra-BN infighting in Sarawak. By letting the problem fester, it was acting as a bully, not a problem solver,” Beginda pointed out.
The second incident was during the March general election when two of the party’s candidates were rejected without any reason.
Beginda queried why was PBB allowed to choose its candidates to contest on PRS seats.
“Where is the principle that component parties ought to be free to conduct their own affairs and make the selection of candidates themselves? Is this not a case of dominance and bullying?” he asked.
“As a result, PRS was caught in a dilemma. The choices were two: PRS could have rejected the suggested replacements or it could have accepted them. A refusal to accept the replacement candidates could have left the party open to accusations of being disloyal to BN, a grave enough political sin. Such a move would have put PRS leadership in hot soup and perhaps alienate the party from BN.“The impact on PRS was that it was a tremendous “let down”. To paraphrase Dato Seri Ong, the perception was that a partner in Sarawak BN – the PBB – was being “too dominant”.
Despite these internal BN problems, Sarawak managed to deliver all but one of its 31 parliamentary seats to the BN. The ruling coalition only lost Bandar Kuching to DAP.
PRS is led by Dr James Masing who is the party’s founder president. He is also state land development minister.
PRS has six members of parliament. Its vice-president Joseph Entulu serves at the federal level as deputy minister for national and rural development.
Other options, other than BN
On the current situation within the Sarawak BN, Beginda said it would seem that “we in PRS are still back in a bad school environment where the weaker students are being bullied by the more senior ones.”
He called for a mechanism in the BN for components parties to be protected from the predation of others, no matter what the excuse.
“Umno and PBB could be strong but that should be so without being dominant up to the level that it could openly ‘interfere’ into the internal affairs of another component party,” said Beginda.
Stressing that the BN leadership must be just, Beginda said the organisational integrity of a component party like PRS must be maintained.
“Its decisions, such as the nomination of candidates, must be respected. Failure to do this could lead to fragmentation at the peripheries and ultimately could spread to the centre,” he warned.
Beginda also emphasised on the need for re-generation, re-vitalization and re-growth within the BN..
“The BN machinery is seen as an ossified body, presently unable to respond effectively to the needs of component parties and that of the country as a whole. The message is that such dominance need to be rectified and ways be found as a means of resuscitating the rest of the BN partners so that the BN machinery could be energized and respond to the people more effectively, “ he said.
Beginda reminded the BN top leadership that the coalition must wake up to current political realities and stop being in a state of denial.
“Before, there was only BN which could provide the national leadership. After March 2008, it is clear that PRS has other, perhaps better, options,” he added with that friendly ‘warning’
We question, Who could have initiated all this? Someone is really Fishing in Murky waters. Has this got to do with the imminent State Elections?