Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Dayak in the CM equation

sarawak-dayak300Sarawak DAP has once again raised the issue of a non-Muslim Dayak or Orang Asal being appointed the Chief Minister of Sarawak should the opposition Pakatan Rakyat seize the reins of power from the ruling state Barisan Nasional at the next state election due by mid-2016.
The latest to bring up this issue was Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen during a Gawai open house in Sri Aman last Sunday.
Apparently, under a so-called “gentleman’s” agreement in 1963, it was informally agreed among the non-Chinese politicos that should the Governor be a Muslim, the Chief Minister would be a non-Muslim Orang Asal and vice versa.

But the non-Muslim Orang Asal, much less the Chinese and other non-Orang Asal, do not as yet figure in this equation and this has apparently irked the DAP no end.
In fact, there was no such agreement. It was Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who proposed the idea to prevent Iban paramount chief Temenggong Jugah from becoming the first Governor of Sarawak after the British departed.
In butting into Sarawak affairs, Tunku said that since Stephen Kalong Ningkan was Chief Minister, the Governor should be a Muslim.
The present Chief Minister, Adenan Satem, is a Muslim who took over three months ago from Abdul Taib Mahmud who elevated himself, after 33 years in the office, to the Governor’s post.
Taib’s predecessor, Abdul Rahman Yakub, his maternal uncle, was Chief Minister for a good 10 years. He was the third chief minister, after Stephen Kalong Ningkan and Tawi Sli, who both held the post for brief periods.
Divide-and-rule tactic
If the non-Muslim Orang Asal seats in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly are added together, they make up just over half the 71 seats.
However, they are divided among the four component parties in the ruling BN, that is, the Muslim-dominated Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB); Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS); Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP); and the ostensibly multiracial but Chinese-dominated Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
BN, come every election, allots all Muslim seats to PBB and all Chinese seats to SUPP. This is a classic divide-and-rule tactic which has worked against the non-Muslim Orang Asal since 1963.
There’s a new player in the picture i.e. Teras. This party is composed of defecting legislators from SPDP and SUPP who still maintain their cabinet and government positions under a de facto BN Plus Formula. Teras means the further division of the majority community and for the first time, the Chinese too.
Pakatan hopes to capitalise on the political impotence of the non-Muslim Orang Asal under BN to gather the community under its alliance to make a bid for power.
The idea (of a non-Muslim Orang Asal Chief Minister) has struck a chord among the majority community in the state and got them excited like never before.
The BN is fond of saying that Sarawak is a state where all the races live in harmony unlike in the peninsula. Taib, seemingly in a parting act of defiance, even urged the people to keep out the “racist Umno” from Sarawak.
The State Constitution provides the only mechanism whereby the Chief Minister would be appointed. The Governor has to call upon a member of the State Assembly who in his opinion is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the State Assembly.