SNAP begins its poll assault

Former deputy chief minister and revered statesman Daniel Tajem is leading SNAP’s charge to unseat Barisan Nasional in Sarawak.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP), which gave the Dayak community their first chief minister in Stephen Kalong Ningkan way back in 1963, is bent on redeeming its political relevance in the coming state election.

Working against a wave of scepticism, a SNAP official said theirs was an “unwavering” commitment to giving Dayak’s back their political importance and self-esteem.

SNAP is aiming to contest in 28 Dayak majority seats in the 10th state election. Leading the SNAP charge is iconic former deputy chief minister Daniel Tajem.

The much revered lawyer-diplomat and elder statesmen has made a clarion call to Dayaks to return to SNAP, saying “the policy, principle and objective of SNAP are similar to the defunct PBDS (Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak).”

Tajem, 72, is targetting the over 100,000 disillusioned PBDS members who are currently partyless.

Tajem was once Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s deputy, when the latter engineered the destruction of SNAP and PBDS and began his divide-and-rule policy of the state’s 60% native community.

Since then the Dayaks have either been in political “wilderness” or aligned with Barisan Nasional allies Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party and Sarawak United Peoples party (SUPP).

The communities have also been economically marginalised and sidelined from Taib’s “Politics of Development” which he launched in the early 1990s and which saw him amend the Land Code to allegedly enable transfer, lease and convert native-owned lands in the name of growth.

Despite Sarawak’s minerals and natural sources, Taib’s “Politics of Development” policies never filtered down to the longhouses that litter this landlocked state.

Today under Taib’s 30-year administration Sarawak is the third poorest state in Malaysia.

Political heritage

On the ground, SNAP is flagging Taib’s corrupt land policies which have eroded native rights.

The party has begun its assault by flushing longhouses and Dayak majority areas in specific constituencies with 100,000 flyers showcasing the SNAP logo and Tajem’s call for Dayak’s to join SNAP’s struggle. Some 40 billboards and banners promoting the SNAP brand is also expected to go up later this month.

Also being distributed are flyers promoting DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s pledge of a RM1 billion Dayak endowment fund if BN is unseated.

Tajem, on his part, is urging Dayaks “not to wait until their individual rights whittle to nothingness.”