Will ‘inspired’ Taib call for a December poll?

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is all ready to ring the bell for the big “fight”: he may call for state election as early as next month.

Taib has openly said that he would decide on matters of seats and a “partyless” assemblyman once Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Najib Tun Razak makes a decision on opening the BN doors to associate members and possibly embracing “independents”.

Now that Najib has opened the doors, it paves the way for Taib to have a politically “safe” state election.

Speculators are betting on a quick-kill December poll, saying that everything’s in place for a snap election. They say a December poll will not give the opposition coalition time to maneouvre itself.

PAS has already declared that it is not fully ready to deal with an immediate general election, given the chaos in PKR over Zaid Ibrahim and its allegedly fraudulent party polls process.

Zaid reportedly has a strong following in Sarawak and his supporters are reportedly furious with PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim, who they see as acting in an unfair manner against Zaid.

In Sarawak, the BN component parties, although unhappy with each other, will pull together rapidly under Taib’s hand.

But even if these parties don’t do well and independents win under the BN umbrella, it will still be a party-friendly victory, say speculators.

Taib’s strategy

Meanwhile, Taib knows well that the recent media reports alleging wide-ranging corruption and exposure of his global wealth and family’s oppulent lifestyles will work against him.

He expects the opposition to lynch him. But he’s not unduly worried. Taib had reportedly travelled to London where a family congregation was held to “try and repair some of their public feuds and rivalries”.

The move was rumoured as an attempt by Taib to present a “united family front” in the coming state election.

Speculating on the “event”, Sarawak Report said family members were expected “to ask for each other’s forgiveness” and make amends with one another.

Sources said all was well in London and it’s a comfortable Taib who, on arrival here today, announced that he has found the “inspiration” to call for polls but declined to say when.

Direct membership

Meanwhile, Sarawak is on a threshold of something new and fresh. There are already reports of independents emerging in far corners of the state.

These independents are locals who “will best represent” the interest of their people.

But all independents will need financial assistance to carry out their own projects in their respective areas. Taib knows that it’s only BN which has the financial muscle to eventually entice these independent representatives to become BN-friendly.

A case in point is Engkilili repersentative Johnical Rayong who was elected on a Sarawak Nasional Party ticket in 2006 and then turned independent immediately after winning. He was accepted into BN fold last month.

Another is Pelagus assemblyman Larry Sng.