Is Jabu stepping down after four decades in politics?

COMMENT: It looks like Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang may be stepping down if the handshakes and hugs with supreme council members of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) after the council meeting on Sunday are anything to go by.

Why the handshakes and the hugs if they are not signs that he is bidding farewell?

Abdul Karim Hamzah, a PBB supreme council member, seems to confirm that the PBB deputy president may not be in the list of PBB candidates.

“Just now, after the supreme council meeting, you all had to wait for quite a while. There were hugs and things like that. Well, who is being hugged and all that, you can probably see from that indication,” Karim told reporters who were covering the meeting.

Jabu is the longest-serving deputy chief minister and has represented the Layar constituency for more than 42 years.

Rumours of Jabu’s impending retirement which have been circulating for months began when PBB secretary general Stephen Rundi was said to have been told by Chief Minister Adenan Satem to inform Jabu that he should give way to a young man.

Moreover, when the chief minister was asked recently whether Jabu would be contesting in the coming state election, he merely said, “I make no comment”.

Adenan’s no “comment” statement further strengthens the speculation that Jabu would be replaced.

During that press conference, Adenan announced that several new faces would be fielded.

PBB, he said, would be contesting in at least 40 seats in this election.

Meanwhile, the majority of PBB members in Layar want Jabu to give way to a younger man.

The man they strongly recommended is Nelson Kloni Kanang, PBB Layar secretary. He was also at one time a political secretary to the chief minister and was attached to Jabu’s ministry.

After representing them for more than four decades, Layar members feel he must give way as more people, including longhouse chiefs, have expressed dissatisfaction with Jabu.

The longhouse chiefs apparently have become bold in expressing their views and are not afraid of being sacked from their posts.

Recently three longhouse chiefs openly expressed their anger against Jabu.

“We asked you for a road, but you offered us electricity generators. We can buy our own generators, but it is road access that we want.

“Now that we have built the road ourselves, we don’t really need you anymore,” Tuai Rumah Merundie Lindang of Batu Pesok, Betong was quoted as saying.

Said a strong supporter of Kloni, “What else can he ask for when he has everything?”

His family has a wide range of businesses, including some contracts in Salcra oil palm estates and owns oil palm plantations.

The possibility of the Betong MP Douglas Uggah, who is currently the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, contestng in the state election is very high. He may be asked to contest either in Layar or Bukit Saban.

As the most senior Dayak leader in PBB, he is likely to be appointed as a deputy chief minister (DCM).

When asked on the possibility of Uggah contesting in the coming state election, Adenan was coy about it, merely hinting at the possibility.

I did raise the question of Uggah contesting in the coming state election and the possibility of him being appointed as a DCM to replace Jabu.

In my story “Seeds of discontent in Layar may see a new leader emerge” in The Ant Daily dated Sept 17, 2015, I posed a question on the issue of a likely candidate replacing Jabu as DCM assuming that he would not contest.

The story reads: “According to the merger agreement between Parti Pesaka and Parti Bumiputera is that if the CM comes from Parti Bumiputera, then the DCM must come from Parti Pesaka. Parti Pesaka was formed by Penghulus in the Batang Rajang in August 1962, and merged with Parti Bumiputera in January 1973.

“Besides Jabu, there are eight Dayak elected representatives in PBB. The most senior among them and the only full-fledged minister left is Michael Manyin. The rest are assistant ministers such as Stephen Rundi, Gramong Juna and Richard Mulok.

“Would Adenan choose Manyin to be next DCM from the Pesaka Wing?

“They claimed that appointing Manyin as DCM could cause some unhappiness among the Iban members in the Pesaka Wing and the Iban community could feel slighted. This is because an Iban has always been appointed as DCM from the Iban-based party.

“Adenan should be careful not to breach this agreement because it could lead to dissatisfaction and cracks in PBB.

“The next question is: will Adenan appoint assistant ministers Rundi, Juna and Mulok to the post of deputy chief minister?

“If anyone of the assistant ministers is appointed to be deputy chief minister, don’t you think it is rather strange? This is not to question their capability, but more on the question of hierarchy and seniority.

“Thus, one solution as suggested by some PBB members is for Douglas Uggah, the MP for Betong and the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities to resign from his ministerial post and as an MP to contest in the coming state election.”

Uggah is perhaps the most suitable candidate to be made DCM considering his vast federal stint and experience.-The Ant Daily

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