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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