New line-up tailored to suit Taib’s agenda

By Awang Abdillah, FMT

The results of the April 16, 2011 state election have forced Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to reset his political power game to maintain the Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu’s (PBB) – in particular the Bumiputera wing of PBB – grip on the state government to ensure his succession plan works.

After a long wait of more than five months, Taib had on Sept 28, 2011 unveiled his new Cabinet line-up.

He claimed the new line-up would enable the government to get closer to the people at the grassroots level and that the three senior ministers would be able to groom new leaders.

In essence the new line-up is very carefully tailored to suit Taib’s personal agenda.

Why have only one deputy chief minister (DCM)? Prior to the April 16 polls, the state cabinet had two DCMs.

But this time Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) was not offered the DCM slot because the party had failed miserably in the election, losing 13 out of 19 seats contested.

By right, the post of the other vacant DCM should be filled by another component party that had won the most seats after PBB. That party would be James Masing’s Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).

PRS retained seven of the eight seats it contested. It lost its Pelagus seat to independent George Lagong.

Appeasing Masing, Mawan

However should PRS get the second DCM post, this will spell big trouble for Taib.

He would then have to tackle two potential candidates – from the Pesaka wing of PBB and PR – both of whom are vying for the CM’s post.

To appease PRS, Masing is promoted to senior minister, which means that Taib has to tackle only one DCM aspirant and this would be in the person of Alfred Jabu Numpang from PBB’s Pesaka wing in order to execute his hidden agenda.

For whom is the other DCM post reserved for and why the need for three senior ministers?

The trio – Jabu (who is also deputy PBB president) , Masing and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Willliam Mawan – have their own plans.

The trio are applying pressure to block Taib’s succession plan which has made the latter to cave in.

Hence to appease all parties, Taib decided that the Pesaka component retains the one and only DCM post. He then went on to create a senior minister’s post each for PRS,SPDP and SUPP.

These posts are only “senior” in name but in terms of duties and responsibilities, there is little change.

Hence, there is no administrative justification except the political agenda to appease these parties and their presidents.

Taib’s strategy

Meanwhile, we wonder why there is no Malay senior minister or DCM.

Obviously this would be the last appointment Taib would do or else it would invite a rebellion from within his own party, PBB.

Furthermore, to continue the family dynasty rule, a member of his family has to climb through the PBB ladder.

At this stage if he promotes a Malay from the Bumiputera wing of PBB to the post of a senior minister, it will raise suspicion and create tension among the leaders of the component parties.

Hence, no Malay PBB minister is promoted to senior minister yet.

Obviously the strategy at this stage is to please PRS , SPDP and SUPP for different reasons.

Who then is the de facto DCM?

The minister in the new line-up who has been given important and critical portfolios similar to that of the chief minister himself is none other than Awang Tengah Ali Hassan. Awang Tengah has also been given the task of breaking up SPDP.

He has been tasked with roping in the five SPDP rebels (four assemblymen and one parliamentarian) and align them with PBB’s Bumiputera wing.

He has also been tasked with keeping the six SUPP assemblymen (two Chinese and four Dayaks) under PBB control.

As a temporary measure, the four SPDP turncoat assemblymen – Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Sylvester Entri (Marudi), Rosey Yunus (Berkenu) and Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) – would anchor themselves as “independents”

Awang Tengah strengthening position

With the four SPDP and six SUPP assemblymen pledging loyalty to PBB, Taib is in a very strong position to make another change in a future Cabinet line-up favouring the Bumiputera wing of the PBB.

The new formula would include the 26 seats of the Bumiputera wing of PBB, plus the 10 seats from SPDP and SUPP.