SNAP aims to restore Dayak political power

The Sarawak National Party is setting its sights on resuming its role as Sarawak’s leading political party. It hopes to do so by contesting 40 seats in the state elections due this year, with a focus on capturing the native vote.

Of the 40 seats to be contested, “29 will be in interior native-majority constituencies and the rest will be in areas where natives form the largest single grouping,” the party said in a statement on Tuesday, in which it named the first slate of 16 candidates. The state assembly has 71 members.

SNAP president Edwin Dundang said the coming state elections would be “a watershed in the political history of Sarawak” and the party, “being the traditional party of choice among natives” wanted a meaningful role in shaping Sarawak’s political future, and “taking back its rightful role as the leading opposition voice in Sarawak”.

The party was formed in 1961 to put the Dayak community in the forefront of moves for Sarawak independence. Among its founders was Stephen Kalong Ningkan, who later became the first Chief Minister. Although the party was largely Iban based, it opened its doors to multi-racial membership in 1963, with James Wong being the first Chinese to join the party.

SNAP’s announcement of its electoral plans pre-empts opposition moves towards an electoral understanding and is a slap against Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which is believed to want to contest 52 seats.

However, SNAP was scornful of PKR’s ambitions, pointing out that PKR had only one state seat after q2 years and taking part in three parliamentary elections and two state elections.

SNAP statement said the party wanted the opposition parties to take on the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in one-to-one contests throughout the state. “Common wisdom tells us that it is wise not to split the anti-BN votes to ensure opposition victory,” it said.

“SNAP does not see any problem towards an electoral understanding with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) of Sarawak. We are urged by our membership to go further than electoral pacts and work towards greater understanding and mutual support with the DAP. Our leadership has been and shall be meeting DAP leaders over these matters in due course,” Edwin Dundang said.

“We also do not see any problems in our relationship with Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).”

He said PKR was presumptuous in declaring that the combined opposition had reached an electoral understanding, which SNAP said was an attempt to gloss over the differences on seat allocations. PKR was “riding roughshod” against SNAP, and there had been no attempt to negotiate. “PKR’s lackadaisical attitude towards native political issues is now becoming obvious,” the statement said.

Press statement by Sarawak National Party on Tuesday

Sarawak National Party (SNAP) has always been since the inception of Malaysia 47 years ago, the party that speaks out, defend and fight for the welfare of the people of Sarawak especially the interior native population. It must be reiterated that SNAP will remain so now, and in the future, in response to the popular requests and desires of the people of Sarawak.

SNAP is synonymous with the political development of Sarawak and intends to play its role in positive nation building within the ambit of the Federation of Malaysia Agreement 1963. SNAP it should be remembered was one of the political parties which were signatories to the Malaysia Agreement.

The forthcoming state elections this year will be a watershed in the political history of Sarawak and it is imperative that SNAP, being the traditional party of choice among natives, play a meaningful role in the shaping of Sarawak’s political future.

In this context, the Select Committee after being given the mandate by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of SNAP met this weekend and agreed among other things that SNAP’s participation in this elections will reflect its historic role and its presently reignited dynamic role, as requested by our membership.

Consequently SNAP has decided to put up a total of 40 candidates, 29 of which will be in interior native-majority constituencies and the rest will be in areas where natives form the largest single grouping.

To underscore our seriousness and commitment to the above, SNAP hereby announces our candidates for the first 16 seats.