Future of five Dayak-majority seats with Bidayuh leaders

SARAWAK FOCUS: When United People’s Party (UPP) people came out of the 20-minute morning meeting with Chief Minister Adenan Satem, they lined up for the press photographers, every one of them grinning from ear to ear, of course to tell the world they were a happy and satisfied lot.

When it was the turn of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) people to emerge from their meeting with Adenan, the cameras did not flash away like they did in the morning.

And neither did the SUPP people display their white dentures to send out a message of happiness and satisfaction.

SUPP president Dr Sim Kui Hian and his boys had had a two-hour session with the state Barisan Nasional chairman, at the end of it, everyone was stretching tired muscles and breathing a sigh of relief. It had been two hours of serious business.

The contrast was stark: UPP hardly had 20 minutes with Adenan and they were celebrating; SUPP had two hours and, well, they went away like they came – minus the ceremony.

I wrote an article about what I thought of UPP’s 20 minutes with Adenan. Here’s an extract of that article:

“Emerging from the meeting, the members of the UPP delegation were described as looking “relieved and were all smiling, apparently satisfied with what transpired during the discussion”.

“We are happy with the discussion that we had. It was a good discussion but we cannot disclose the content of the discussion,” was how one of the officials put it when pressed for details.

If indeed the UPP people were “happy” and that the discussion was “good”, why the flurry of “sink and swim” pledges when it was reported on Dec 18, just a day after the meeting with Adenan, that Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) had set a pre-condition before any negotiation could begin – that Wong retires and SUPP president Dr Sim Kui Hian will not stand in the 11th state election?

Whatever those smiling faces were for, they really don’t mean much after all, because if Adenan had said something so very assuring, SUPP’s precondition should not worry the UPP people a wee bit.

To me, 20 minutes was too brief. UPP came with 20 delegates, getting all 20 introduced one by one to Adenan would take 10 minutes, then Wong Soon would take five minutes to say what he wanted, leaving Adenan with just five minutes of the 20 minutes to say his welcome and whatever that was that had made Wong Soon Koh and his boys happy.

Until today I still believe Adenan did not say much in the five minutes of the 20 he had with UPP, certainly not as much as he must have said in the two hours he spent with SUPP.

In fact, I also got wind of some of the things he told the SUPP people and that one of those was for SUPP deputy president Richard Riot to handle the four Dayak seats of Opar, Engkilili, Simanggang and Bengoh.

I hinted of this in an article I wrote shortly after the meeting:

If Adenan had told SUPP that its chairman Dr Sim Kui Hian would not be standing in the coming state election, SUPP people could accept that simply because SUPP is not all about Sim.

Unlike UPP, which will die a slow death without Wong, SUPP is a party by and for its members that number in the thousands, its continued existence is determined by these thousands.

Adenan can certainly depend on a party that has depth and leadership continuity. SUPP is capable of assuring him that it is a party with enough Chinese leadership materials.

SUPP also is capable of assuring him that in its deputy president Richard Riot the party has a Dayak to look after the interest of the Dayaks – and Dayak seats – in the party.

Some friends called to ask what I meant by the last sentence, and I said, Riot had been tasked by the state BN chairman with resolving the four traditional Dayak seats in SUPP.

Bengoh incumbent and UPP deputy president Dr Jerip Susil was all disbelief when it was reported Riot “had been given the mandate to look after the four Dayak seats, including selecting candidates to represent BN in the election, due in March or April”.

“When was that? I do not know and don't want to comment on this. I leave it to CM to announce the candidates. What I can say is, we, incumbents, have been working very hard on the ground all these years,” was all he could say.

I had been waiting for the day Riot would tell of this task that has been given him, therefore, I was neither surprised nor shocked by his statement Wednesday.

Take it from me, yes, Adenan has the prerogative to name candidates but he also knows the power of delegation, and that’s what he does in the case of Opar, Bengoh, Engkilili and Simanggang.

Adenan is also doing the same for the two new Bidayuh-majority seats of Serembu and Bukit Semuja.

He has tasked Mambong MP Dr James Dawos Mamit to handle Serembu and Tebedu assemblyman Michael Manyin Jawong to handle Bukit Semuja.

People, take the hint.-The Ant Daily

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