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  • Tigeriban 11:37 am on February 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Taib will dissolve Sarawak assembly this week, say sources 

    Taken from Malaysian Insider

    Feb 14 — Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud will meet with the Sarawak Governor this Friday to seek his consent to dissolve the state assembly, sources say.

    A source at Astana Sarawak told The Malaysian Insider the chief minister’s office had called last week to fix a February 18 appointment with Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng for that purpose.

    Another source in the state government said district officers have been asked to freeze leave for their staff as of February 19, when the dissolution is expected to be announced.

    A February dissolution would lend weight to speculation that Taib will call for state elections in March or April, ahead of the expiry of the state assembly’s term in July.

    The Election Commission (EC) is required to hold elections within 60 days of the assembly’s dissolution.

    The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the Barisan Nasional (BN) has decided not to hold a general election simultaneously with Sarawak as Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants to finish touring the country first.

    The prime minister is said to be delaying earlier plans to seek a fresh mandate in the first half of 2011 to allow big-ticket economic projects to gain traction.

    Najib said last week that Sarawak BN will hold a convention on March 6, raising the prospect of early state elections.

    Also, Taib is due to celebrate his 30th anniversary in power on March 26 and an election victory will cap his career as the state’s longest-serving chief minister.

    Umno officials and BN lawmakers told The Malaysian Insider in January that Najib favoured holding elections only after projects like the construction of the city’s mass rapid transit (MRT) and Sungei Besi development kick off.

    Taib, who leads Sarawak BN and also its largest party, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB), has kept political observers guessing when state elections will take place.

    The 74-year-old veteran intimated last year that he had received inspiration on when to call the election during his pilgrimage to Mecca, but stop short of revealing the date.

    “I have the inspiration but I won’t tell you (the date),” he told reporters in November.

    Taib, who has served as Sarawak chief minister for the past 29 years, is said to be under pressure from BN partners to step down due to his waning popularity amid abuse-of-power allegations.

    The DAP’s victory in Sibu last year on the back of a major vote swing — which some saw as a referendum on Taib — has given BN cause for concern in a state long seen as a “fixed deposit” by the ruling coalition.

    The Sarawak BN holds 63 seats in the 71-seat assembly, with 35 held by PBB, 12 by the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), and eight each by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

    Of the remaining eight seats, DAP has six and PKR one, while the last is held by an independent.

    The EC has announced its readiness to hold the Sarawak polls at any time, with its chairman stating that the commission had “long made preparations” for any eventual dissolution of the assembly.

    The BN is expected to keep the state with a comfortable majority although there is concern that the DAP might be able to secure more seats in the urban areas.

    A senior DAP leader told The Malaysian Insider that it has heard of a possible dissolution of the state assembly this weekend and has made preparations for snap polls.

    “We are as ready as we can be for the state polls,” said the DAP leader, who declined to be named.

  • Tigeriban 11:21 am on February 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Bian no match for Sng’s money, connections 

    KUCHING: Should Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian and company continue to place their trust in the party now that money-bags Sng Chee Hua has “openly” moved into the game?

    It’s a question that is being bandied about here and in Sarawak ever since Sng’s “secretive” breakfast meeting with PKR defactor chief Anwar Ibrahim last weekend.

    For one thing, Bian was not invited to Sng’s pre-arranged breakfast chat lending credence to a commonly-held view that Kuala Lumpur has no respect for Bian and his role.

    What was so secretive about the discussion between Anwar and Sng that they couldn’t have Bian sitting in?

    Rumour has it that it was all money talk. Speculations are rife that Anwar is busy “sourcing” for money in Sabah and Sarawak to secure Azmin Ali’s leadership and the party’s depleted coffers.

    Sng is within Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s circle. His son Larry Sng, 32, holds two Assistant Minister portfolios in Taib’s Cabinet.

    Taib is said to have a soft spot for Larry who, despite being a partyless Pelagus assemblyman, has had Taib’s indirect blessings to contest in the coming state polls.

    But Taib has also said that he will not take in independents, who won seats in the polls, into BN. This leaves ample room for father Sng to negotiate a package befitting his son and Anwar.(Incidentally, Larry’s father-in-law is prominent Sarawak businessman and also Taib ally, Ting Phek Khing.)

    Sng is already reported to be “deciding on and financing” PKR’s 15 candidates in Sarawak subject to certain “terms and conditions”’
    Whatever are the terms, it is expected to work well for both Taib and Anwar. Likewise, in Sabah it is said that it is all part of a “strategy” which saw Chief Minister Musa Aman recently “receive” with open arms former state PKR leader Pajudin Nordin, who is with Ansari Abdullah, who in turn is Azmin’s pointman in Sabah. Pajudin’s move to Umno was sudden.

    Clear threat

    Bian unfortunately is not among Sng’s “must haves”.

    In fact, in Sarawak PKR, Sng and his money is a clear threat to Bian’s influence among the Dayak and Chinese members.

    “We are worried. With Sng there is now a change in status quo between Bian and Anwar. He won’t be able to fight Sng’s money and his association with Anwar and Taib.

    “Bian and his supporters don’t have the muscle to take on both Sng and Taib,” a source said, adding that Bian was also having problems within the rank and file in the party.

    According to another insider, Bian was not PKR central leadership”s first choice.

    “He was the third choice… there isn’t a big pool of capable Dayak leaders in Sarawak.

    “And when KL decided on him… the Muslims were angry.

    “Within Sarawak PKR itself, there are three factions… one led by Sng, the other by Muslim members, and now he has to contend with a re-emerging SNAP (Sarawak Nasional Party),” said the insider.

    Not accepted

    Sarawak PKR Youth chief Ahmad Nazib Johari, when contacted about the factions, said that he too was aware of the rumours

    He admitted to an “initial discomfort” with Bian’s appointment.

    “Yes, there were issues when Bian was appointed… I believe there are still some who are not comfortable.

    “But we’ve generally accepted the top level leadership’s decision and are looking at the bigger picture.

    “I don’t think it is a problem anymore… as our enemy is the Barisan Nasional and as a party, we are focused on bringing them down,” Ahmad Nazib told FMT in Kuching.

    Another Muslim PKR member, however, had a terse response when asked about Bian:

    “Bian is not a leader… he is a bigot who should not be leading the party.”

    Meanwhile, Bian is struggling with the threat posed by the re-emergence of SNAP and its willingness to be inclusive.
    Further damaging to Bian is “iconic” Dayak, Daniel Tajem’s unequivocal support for SNAP.

    Respected voice

    Tajem, who was among the key people who set up the now defunct Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), was once described by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) chief Yong Teck Lee as “the icon of Dayak politics”.

    In fact, at PKR’s fifth national assembly 2008 in Selangor, Anwar liked Tajem to the “star” in Dayak politics.

    Tajem, a diplomat, is a much respected voice among the Dayaks and his call in recent weeks for Dayaks to return to SNAP, which gave Sarawak its first chief minister in Stephen Kalong Ningkan, is troubling for Bian and the state PKR.

    Tajem has his own diehard fans within Sarawak’s PKR and many are in two minds about staying on in the party.

    Said a SNAP insider: “SNAP is crystalising its strength and rapidly gaining support… it’s tapping Dayaks across the country.”
    “Bian should join SNAP. Now is the time for him to realise his worth… SNAP is prepared to field him as a candidate.

    “Our doors are open to him but Bian must decide. What is important now is straight fights with BN in all the constituencies,” the insider said.
    While admitting to Bian’s strength on native customary rights (NCR) land issue, the insider said “land issue alone is now insufficient”.

    “The folk in Lun Bawang like him and he’s known for his work with land cases… but that’s it. It’s not enough in a bigger political fight to administer Sarawak.

    “This is the big opportunity… the opposition must offer workable alternatives to poverty and practical infrasructural development,” said the insider, referring to the majority of Sarawak’s over 60% Dayak community who are still trapped in poverty despite the state being rich in natural resources.

    Taken from Free Malaysia Today

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