There has to be better option than fielding direct candidates

ELECTION TALK: Did I hear right, that the state Barisan Nasional (BN) could form its own team of direct candidates if Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras), and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and United People’s Party (UPP) cannot agree over seat allocation?

News reports could be wrong in the way they write their news or in the words they use, but for this one, I really hope they are right because it is indeed the state BN that should sit down and decide who these direct candidates should be if that’s the only option left to Adenan.

Direct candidates cannot be resorted to merely because the four parties can’t agree. The state BN should be able to see there are contentious seats where the nominees of SUPP and SPDP are clearly ahead of their rivals from the BN-friendly parties.

Take for example, Tasik Biru where SPDP’s Henry Jinep is favoured by all four BN component members while his Teras rival Peter Nansian continues to get community leaders to sing praises of him.

Another example is Marudi where incumbent Sylvester Entri can no longer do something that he had done for the last 20 years, which is go to the longhouses and present his longhouse face and identity. Entri can’t do that now because longhouse folk know he has another personality and identity when he is not among them.

This single fact alone has disqualified Entri in Marudi. The state BN better admit that or be punished by the Marudi electorate for not taking heed and seeing that SPDP’s Dr Penguang Manggil is what Entri is not.

Fielding direct candidates may be good for some seats, and while it will solve the seat allocation issue before Adenan goes into Sarawak’s 11th state polls, expect problems after election – problems related to direct candidates who win.

Let’s say Adenan gives the ‘dacing’ ticket to UPP president Wong Soon Koh to stand in Bawang Assan as direct candidate, and he wins, which party will he join, BN’s SUPP or BN-friendly UPP?

Or, he picks Teras president William Mawan to stand in Pakan as BN direct candidate and Mawan wins, would he return to head Teras or join SPDP?

For now and in the near future, I don’t see how UPP or Teras hope to get admitted into BN because I don’t see any pointer to say that SUPP or SPDP is, or will be, amenable to the idea.

And I believe Adenan surely sees the downside of his inherited BN-plus government to want to continue with it in his next five years as chief minister.

BN-plus’ most apparent downside is the presence of ministers and assistant ministers who come from BN-friendly parties. These politicians make the most of their positions in the government to appoint community leaders and local government councillors who answer only to them.

As a result, today there are serious administrative setbacks at many levels of administration. For example, in seats represented by these so-called BN friends, longhouses split, projects and government grants were unfairly distributed; even the blue 1Malaysia water tanks were kept away from government supporters who were not supporters of BN friends.

This scenario has been most apparent in the last few months as the tussle for candidacy rages on and these community leaders and councillors are forced into the open to speak for their masters.

Sarawak cannot afford to have ministers and assistant ministers who, in the next five years, will make cementing their respective positions as their overriding objective when Adenan seeks to empower the state economically, politically and socially.

Sarawak cannot afford to have a situation where elected representatives supposedly on the same side decide against the overall interest of the parties making up the government.

If Adenan is serious, and I have no doubt he is, about what he wants to achieve for Sarawakians in the next five years, BN-plus, readily open to abuse by self-serving plus elements, is not the way forward.

What Adenan needs after the polls is a genuine BN government, one that’s made up of full-fledged BN component parties; not one consisting of pretenders.

And for that to happen, Adenan should forget about fielding direct candidates merely to solve the issue of seat allocation. Direct candidates will only force him into another BN-plus government.

As it is, direct candidates cannot be to the advantage of SUPP and SPDP. Direct candidates are fielded because the two BN component parties fail to convince the BN leadership they and their candidates deserve the ‘dacing’ ticket.

In fact, direct candidates are a means to take representation away from the two parties. Wong is not likely to join SUPP if he wins, neither Mawan, SPDP.

If they must join SUPP and SPDP, respectively, why the need to field them as direct candidates?

And they are not returning to re-join their parties because there will be no BN-plus government.

So where will they be? And this is the question Adenan should answer if he does resort to fielding direct candidates because even right now, many think the chief minister is playing a game that only his party, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), will win.

Given the absolute right to choose, those winning candidates who are bumiputera, Mawan included, will surely join PBB.

If PBB should win all 40 seats, the party is set for at least an additional 11 bumi seats from controversial Opar, Mambong and Engkilili, all SUPP’s traditional seats, and Tasik Biru, Pakan, Krian, Marudi, Bekenu, Ba Kelalan and Batu Danau, all SPDP’s traditional seats.

But is this what Adenan wants?

Indeed if this is what he wants, why the roundabout and elaborate trouble of fielding direct candidates? He might as well decide right away PBB is taking all those seats, which will help SUPP, SPDP – even PRS – to search their conscience.

Direct candidates in at least 11 bumi-majority seats and not less than 16 Chinese-majority ones, that’s a record that will go down as part of Adenan’s achievement as chief minister.

I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of, but it sure does not look right.

There has to be a better option.-The Ant Daily

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