SPDP President Tan Sri William Mawan knows who his BFF(Best Friends Forever) are especially when all the ADUNS have left him. 3 MPs are still with him while the other 1MP was sacked from the party.Mawan does not need to worry as he will still have the loyalists and the party machinery with him to fight the battle to retain the 4 SPDP allocated seats.
The other State seats and ADUNs the party have also sacked them and it will mean that there will be 7 available places to be filled up by NEW PARTY LEADERS from SPDP ranks. It was a crisis where it surely did open up opportunities which the previous ADUNS and MPS left a void. New leaders have emerge and SPDP have been garnering strength through the various activities,programmes and membership drive which have caught the imagination of many political leaders in and outside of BN.
If Mawan was weak he would have caved in and would even have retired with exhaustion but as a fighter and a leader he has shown tremendous capabilites and sustainability. SPDP knows and Mawan in particular knows who his BFF are and he has valued their help tremendously.
Below please find the excerpts from his Chit Chat with Borneo Posts….
SARAWAK Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Tan Sri William Mawan had a bumpy start in politics.
He contested three times and lost three times — each time by a small majority of less than 500. The setback did not ‘kill’ him but instead made him stronger.
Now, some 20 years after his first electoral victory, he is facing one of the worst nightmares for a political leader — a mutiny from within.
But the seasoned Social Development Minister does not blink or flinch, believing he can weather the storm by turning the internal crisis into a golden opportunity to revamp and breathe new life into the party.
Incidentally, SPDP has been reduced to a mosquito party with just four elected representatives after six of its YBs (the Group of Five (G5) and Meluan assemblyman Wong Judat) left due to differences of opinion and other party disputes.
In an interview with thesundaypost, the SPDP president spoke frankly about his involvement in politics, how he is handling the crisis in the party and how the party will see a new beginning after emerging stronger from its internal problems.
Q: Please tell us a bit about how you started in politics.
A: I first contested in Pakan in the 1983 state elections where I lost by 261 votes. I stood in the same constituency in 1987 and lost again by 258 votes. In the 1990 general elections (parliamentary), I stood as an independent in Julau and came out 425 votes short. And in 1991 state elections, I stood again in Pakan. This time round, I won by 595 votes.
Q: What motivated you to join politics?
A: I’m not sure. I was just around — always there with the people. I was chosen three times and defeated again and again but I stayed on to be with the people. Some people may just talk about politics or profess to be politicians, yet they are seldom there with the people. For me, I’m just there with the people. And if that makes me a politician, then I’m a politician.
Q: In other words, you have your own way of doing politics?
A: My way of doing politics is not the art of politics. It’s just the way of my involvement. The art of doing politics involves organising people and managing resources which has a much wider scope. I’m just describing my natural way of getting involved with the people. I’m not trying to define the art of managing politics.
Q: It has been perceived all this while that your weak leadership is the main reason for the party crisis you are facing now. However, your past record of replacing the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) with SPDP shows otherwise. Your comments.
A: Yes, the way I am judged now and what my past record shows do not tally. So whether my leadership is weak or strong, it has yet to be seen. A lot of people said I am weak, some commented I am too soft. But as you have said, if I could face a giant like SNAP before, would I be such a cowardy person now? Many, after just one defeat, slipped into oblivion. I contested three times and lost three times, yet I’m still around today. Do you think a weak person can do that? I rely on my instincts on when to make a move, when to respond or how to be reactive to things. There are always implications to what we do. And in face of the recent happenings within the party, I try to look beyond them. I never want to be drawn into them until I feel hopeless. I want to stand above all these happenings so that I can have a clear view, and thus, be able to make the right decision. And when a decision needed to be made, I made it. If anyone needed to be sacked, we sacked them. We are not happy or excited to see any BN representatives leaving. This, as the whole, is weakening BN. Even though SPDP had sacked people, we didn’t do it hastily. It took almost two years before the G5 were sacked. Along the way, we never stopped trying to win them back. So was it with Wong Judat. There were two or three attempts to win him back.
Q: So how do you see what your party is going through now? Within a year, six of your YBs had either resigned or been sacked, reducing your party (which had 10 elected representatives — six assemblymen and four MPs) to a mosquito party of only four elected representatives?
A: To me, this is just a passing shower. It comes and goes. It is a political hazard but just temporary. For all you know, whether I make noise or keep quiet, I have been handling the situation behind the scene. I have to evaluate the situation and re-think the next move over and over again after all these things happened. I have to keep my cool. I cannot be merely reactive to what is happening. Yes, instant reaction might satisfy my emotions and ego but it will be my nightmare the next day, especially in the present context of BN politics and culture. As party president, I cannot say anything that contradicts myself and be caught in my own cobwebs later on. As a politician — and quite a senior one — who has been around for over 20 year, I think I have learnt to be much more patient. In politics, what you see today may not be there tomorrow. I guess there are times when we have to lie low. In a troubled time like this, even if I have to make a move, I won’t want to tell the world about it. In the face of my enemies out there trying to destablise or destroy our party, I need to be really cautious with everything, including the nature and manner of our responses. In any case, we won’t tell people where we hide our weapons.
Q: As a leader of one of the state BN components, have you been given any assurance of support when you need it?
A: The saving grace is we are in BN. This is a BN government and this is BN politics. We are a coalition and SPDP is part of it. Within BN, it is always understood we are always part and parcel of one another. But no one will not be able to help or sympathise with you if you get out of line. The BN system will not be beneficial to you if you deviate. On the other hand, BN leaders should stick to BN principles or rules and regulations governing BN. Then I believe disputes within any component parties will finally be settled by themselves. But if BN leaders were to deviate from BN principles, then they would be setting a precedence. This is dangerous for everyone in the coalition. If SPDP were to settle its affairs within the ambit of the BN system, I think the party is safe. People come and go — quarrels will always erupt here and there. After all, we are democratic. People are more educated and versatile. Today they may jump there but tomorrow, they may come back again. But as long as BN does not discard its system and principles as well as rules and regulations governing the structure of the coalition that has been there for a long time, all component parties will be safe. To me, there is no compromise in this regard. As far as possible and up till now, I think SPDP has managed to keep in line.
Q: How do you feel about the party crisis and what are the reactions of the leaders in SPDP?
A: As human beings, we tend to be emotional and think we are always right. This is the problem with ego. I have a lot of ego but it’s probably much more controlled or submerged. It is not manifested much. And just like anybody else, I may be tough and uncompromising but the situation demands that I should take a few steps back in order to go forward. I’m very grateful to all SPDP leaders. They never lose sight of their responsibilities. They know what we have been doing and what the future holds for the party. And true enough, as I have said, what happens today is just a temporary phenomenon. We look forward to the future. That’s why we emphasise on recruitment and membership drive. We have been recruiting many new and young professionals from colleges and universities. To us, this bad time is a blessing in disguise. There are many seats to be contested and many candidates to be fielded. To the present leaders, this is a new beginning.
Q: What has SPDP been doing to overcome its crisis?
A: I think the party needs a lot of restructuring and political re-engineering. And once the next state elections come round, the whole situation will change. Now people tend to focus on the number of elected representatives we have sacked and how many have resigned but in the next state elections, there will be a totally new SPDP. We are in process of re-positioning ourselves for bigger things and tougher challenges and I have suggested that some very concrete steps be taken before the next state elections. As for the coming parliamentary election, I think we are on course with the four seats. We probably need to review and strengthen the progress in these areas where we have been campaigning and working in close collaboration with the BN machinery. Most people will see the glaring absence of elected representatives in SPDP — except for William Mawan himself. But SPDP people know there are many of us and we know right infront of us are bright sunny days. Elected representatives are important to us. For a political organisation, you must have elected representatives. We do have seats but in an election, any party can lose seats. But this is just temporary. People just swing away now but they will swing back. Some may leave the party, others return. But the party is still there.
Q: How do you plan to move forward from here?
A: SPDP will continue its good partnership with the other state BN components. As for the party’s future, we are now providing a platform for young professionals to play active roles in leadership and social activities which include welfare. With many vacancies in terms of BN allocated seats, SPDP is now an attractive platform for young professionals to come in and prove their worth and leadership qualities. We started our revamp two years ago by first creating the puteri wing, followed by the putera wing last year. For the puteri wing, more than 2,000 members on average are recruited monthly since the beginning of this year. The total membership of the party is now about 100,000-strong. This is the new begining. We have gone through the worst and are now thinking of how we will rise from this. We need to reorganise and re-engineer and we also need new and young people. This is a golden opportunity to revamp because some leaders have already displaced themselves. Out of necessity, I have to bring in new people to replace them. In the next elections, you will see SPDP winning back all its eight state and four parliamentary seats. We will come back to be more energetic, more poised, more focused and above all, much more relevant. What the future holds is not what we can foresee. But I’m optimistic the new system and structure of the party will allow it to survive for next 50 years.