Delegates to decide SNAP’s future

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING: Sarawak National Party’s (SNAP) upcoming triennial general assembly (TGA) on Sept 24 and 25 is likely to decide the direction the party will take as it moves to redefine its political identity.

Some 60 delegates will attend the assembly and on their shoulders rests the responsibility of deciding the fate of the party.

They go in knowing that this time around rhetoric alone will not be enough to stamp SNAP’s identity as a winner.

Despite its obvious handicaps, SNAP, given a new crop of leaders and the right direction, has a future to play in Sarawak’s politics.

For now, SNAP must not only learn to be humble, but must also work very hard to win back the confidence of the Dayaks in particular and the public in general.

As the delegates convene to decide SNAP’s fate, upmost on the minds of political observers and supporters is the party’s “ties” with the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Will the delegates decide to keep the party within BN’s reach or will it declare itself independent of both BN and its former opposition ally, Pakatan Rakyat?

Or will it succumb to and accept Sarawak DAP’s offer for SNAP to merge with them?

Or what will happen if SNAP declares that it is a BN-friendly party?

Being BN-friendly

Being BN-friendly does have its advantages.

The most obvious advantage is that SNAP will be able to accommodate within its fold partyless people like former Pelagus assemblyman Larry Sng.

There is also the possibility that the five rebellious elected representatives from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) may join the party.

The five, better known as “SPDP 5”, are assemblymen Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Sylvester Enteri (Marudi), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu), Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) and parliamentarian Tiki Lafe (Mas Gading).

The five rebels who have been embroiled in a crisis with the current SPDP leadership are likely to be sacked any time soon.

And as partyless representatives, they will need a platform.

If SNAP were to open its arms to them, then there would be no need for the five to form a new BN- friendly party.

After all, the five were once SNAP members before they joined SPDP in 2002.

Thus, their return to SNAP would be regarded as the return of the prodigal sons.

The sticking point, however, is that they will not only be certain of contesting in the general election, but will also likely take over the leadership of SNAP by virtue of their status as elected representatives.

Disadvantages of BN link

While SNAP may win over these politically influential figures, it may lose its grassroots support.

Ground supporters feel that SNAP’s return to the BN fold would be filled with obstacles, problems and disappointments.

Firstly, there will be seat problems. Which party is willing to surrender its seats to SNAP?

Secondly, it will face the same situation as peninsula-based People’s Progressive Party (PPP), with no seats to contest come election times.

Worse, it will be bullied, sidelined and ostracised.

One thing is clear, though: the people who are anti-BN and fence-sitters within SNAP will withdraw their support for the party.

Merger, a bad idea

The second option is for SNAP to remain neutral or to go solo, without BN or Pakatan alliances.