Sarawak state assembly dissolution soon

By Stephen Then and Vanes Devindran, The Star

KUCHING: Speculation is growing stronger by the day that the Sarawak state assembly is set to be dissolved next week to pave the way for the 10th state election.

Talk is rife that state Barisan Nasional component parties had agreed to the date of dissolution although the coalition leaders would only say that it was up to Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

One of the reasons for the speculation is that Taib had an audience with Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abang Muhammad Sala­hu­ddin Abang Barieng at the Astana yesterday.

Officials claimed that Taib was only there to brief the Governor on what would be discussed at the state Cabinet meeting, which was a monthly affair.

Reporters, who camped at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, tried to get Taib to confirm if the date of the dissolution was fixed after he finished chairing the Cabinet meeting.

“The (Cabinet) meeting is still going on. I’m sorry but I’m in a hurry,” he said as he headed for his car with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

When contacted, Dr Chan, who is SUPP president, hinted that a date had indeed been agreed upon.

“Well, I cannot give you the exact details but it is something like that. The Chief Minister will talk to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister first before making any announcement. That is all I can say,” he said.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg told reporters that it was normal for the Chief Minister to brief the Governor before proceeding to brief the state Cabinet.

But PRS president Datuk Seri Dr James Jemut Masing had a different story.

“He (Taib) hinted as such, asking us to be prepared for the elections. If you want to bet with people, you can bet April is the month to hold the elections,” he said.