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Saturday, September 11, 2010

BN's Secretary Says They Can Win Sarawak without Taib Mahmud

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Saturday, 11th September 2010


SUPP Wants Taib to Go

Barisan Nasional (BN) is confident it will keep Sarawak regardless whether Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud leads the ruling coalition, its secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said.
But Tengku Adnan reminded state party leaders to be aware of public sentiment outside the coalition and to assess the political situation carefully.

“Whether he is there or not there it makes no difference; BN will still win in the next election. But as you know, recently PBB came out with a statement saying that he should carry on,” he said in an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

“It is not for the party to say,” he added, noting that the coalition wanted to keep its two-thirds majority in the Sarawak assembly.

Taib, who has served as Sarawak chief minister for the past 29 years, is said to have been under pressure from another leading BN Sarawak member — the Sarawak United Progressive Party (SUPP) — to step down due to his unpopularity in urban areas where the Chinese-dominated party is contesting.

Tengku Adnan, also Umno secretary-general, however stressed that federal party leaders would not interfere in Taib’s final decision.

“In Sarawak, I believe that Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud will evaluate what the people really want. He is a statesman, I believe he does not want to destroy Barisan Nasional. It is up to him decide. As you know, we do not like to meddle in the component party members affairs,” he said.


Taib has helmed the Sarawak administration for close to three decades. — file pic
Taib leads the Sarawak BN and also its largest party, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB).
All PBB branches expressed support for Taib’s continued leadership of the state in its next polls, soon after he declared that he would step down if he was no longer needed.

SUPP leaders have recently met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to express their concern on issues affecting the state BN.

Its president and Sarawak deputy chief minister, Tan Sri George Chan, had said this week they received strong support from Najib and would be meeting with Taib soon.

Chan, however, did not elaborate on the details of his meeting with Najib, who is the national BN chairman.

“We also know what is happening there. We know the situation there. I believe the chairman and the prime minister must have spoken to the chief minister, telling [him] the actual situation in Sarawak and what we need to do in order for us to remain in power,” said Tengku Adnan.

He also dismissed talks of SUPP abandoning the state BN ahead of the next Sarawak election.

“The situation with SUPP is because they felt that they are no longer effective in the state because of some shortcomings in the state itself. But they have not left [the] state BN, they are still a component member of BN Sarawak and their state assemblymen are still in the Cabinet of Sarawak,” said Tengku Adnan.

“We hope that they will still stay on as a component member of BN Sarawak, irrespective of whatever their feelings are and their performance in the last election,” he added.

Tengku Adnan also reminded the SUPP that they are in a real partnership where no component party will be left out.

He also said that the party and the Chinese community would still be represented even if SUPP does not do well in the next election.

“We have been ‘married’ for a long time. We cannot simply ditch our partners just because they are not doing well,” said Tengku Adnan.

The Chinese make up only 26 per cent of the Sarawak population, but they reside mainly in urban, more developed regions of Malaysia’s largest state.

There are two Chinese SUPP ministers in the Sarawak Cabinet and five assistant ministers.

The current term of the Sarawak assembly expires in July next year and the government is expected to call for state election by the end of this year.

The opposition collectively won nine seats in 2006, seven of which are Chinese-majority.

“We are in a real partnership. We don’t have a loose arrangement. Take for example Gerakan. We appoint the president as a minister,” said Tengku Adnan referring to Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon who was made senator and appointed to Cabinet despite failing to win a federal seat.

He also played down the fear that the Chinese would not be represented in the next Sarawak government, adding that SUPP’s problems could still be mitigated.

“I still believe if certain things [are] done now, maybe Sarawak needs new faces in certain parts. Maybe George Chan has been there too long, maybe Wong Soon Koh also has been there too long,” said Tengku Adnan.

“Maybe they need some new faces, but as I said, we are also taking risks with new faces,” he added.

Chan, 74 has been a state assemblyman since 1983 and was appointed deputy chief minister in 1996, while state Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, 68, first won his state seat of Bawang Assan in 1991, and has been in the Cabinet since 1996.

Tengku Adnan also reminded the state leaders to solve the native customary rights (NCR) land issue, which has been used by the opposition in its campaign.

“The RM20 million given for land survey, I said, yes, people will applaud, but at the end of the day they want to see their land titles. We need to perform,” said Tengku Adnan.

Najib in his recent visit to Sarawak announced an allocation of RM20 million for the surveying of NCR land.

The measure was to ensure the government’s recognition of the Sarawakian natives’ land ownership.

Read More at Malaysian Insider

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