Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Taib’s Cabinet Reshuffle, a Political Convenience?

When I raised the issue concerning Taib’s impending cabinet reshuffle during the last sitting of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, as to whether it has to be done as a political convenience, I observed that the State BN backbenchers were making a lot of noise. Why should there be a Cabinet reshuffle now when the Cabinet was already formed after the State Election of May 20, 2006? Was the present Cabinet not efficient or were there deadwoods in the team that caused Taib wanting to reshuffle the Cabinet? Or was it for a political convenience given the fact that there were too many problems facing the State BN?

SUPP had lost two Assistant Ministers in Kuching and until now the posts had not been fulfilled. Should the posts be filled soon and if so, by whom from SUPP? SUPP also has a headache. Should the Party recommend to Taib someone outside Kuching? If this be done, Kuching people would not be happy. Talks were that Dr. Jerip Susil from Bengoh may be promoted to one of the Assistant Minister’s post. It was also speculated that Tan Joo Phoi, the Chairman of Padawan Municipal Council (“PMC”), the incumbent ADUN from Batu Kawa is also in the running. If the post be given to Dr. Jerip, could this be fair to the Chinese community in Kuching? If the post be given to Tan Joo Phoi, this would also be seen not fair to Dr.Jerip as Dr. Jerip, being a second term assemblyman is senior than Tan Joo Phoi. Then, Ranum from Opar, who is considered as an outsider could also be in the running.

If I am not mistaken, so far, there had not been any Bidayuh Assistant Minister from SUPP and Dr.Jerip and Ranum may work together to ensure that either one of them may get the post to represent their community. They may put a strong case to their leadership and say that their community had been neglected or been overlooked by the Party all these years since the days of Siyium ak Matit. Siyium ak Matit was only an assemblyman for just a few months before he was forced to vacate his Lundu-Bau seat in 1971.

So, who should Taib now chose? Dr. Jerip or Tan Joo Phoi? If not, Taib has to choose Ranum of Opar. Another alternative available to Taib is that, the post be put in the shelf hoping that Datuk Alfred Yap could make a comeback in the next state election. If this would be in Taib’s mind, would Tan Joo Phoi and Dr. Jerip’s camps see Datuk Alfred Yap win again in the coming state election? Taib recently was said to tell the press that he was ready for elections at any time and Alfred Yap definitely would like to enter the fray again, given the fact that he is still young, but, DAP will surely give him a run for his money again!

Another problem faced by the State BN is that, PRS are still in turmoil and the infighting are still continuing with two camps, that is, one headed by Dr. James Masing while the other by Larry Sng. Larry Sng, although still young, was a respected leader within the PRS and has a pleasant personality, whose father-in-law was an influential businessman and who was always solidly behind the BN. At the same time, Dr. James Masing, who was soft spoken, was also an equally approachable person to whom many Dayaks had seen could guide their community into a better future.

Dr.James Masing’s camp had voiced the removal of Larry Sng from the state Cabinet and from the Party, but, it seemed that Dr. James Masing was not in favour of this and had wanted to give Larry Sng, in his own words, a chance. James is really a kind man! So, Taib is now put in a headache. Although, it was widely seen that Taib was on the side of Dr. James Masing, Taib could not simply remove Larry Sng as to do so will only cause further crack in the State BN as Larry’s father is also an equally influential person in the Central Region. At the same time, Taib may still need the services of Larry Sng’s father-in-law, Tan Sri Ting Pik Kiing, and may wish to maintain their relationship as usual.

So, how to solve this puzzle? Recently, in the recent DUN sitting, Larry Sng was seen busy with Dr. George Chan and Wong Soon Koh. Both of them are heavyweights in SUPP. In past sittings, Larry Sng was seldom seen with them. So why Larry Sng suddenly appeared more interested with them recently? Could there be new development in state BN politics? Was there any negotiations going on? Is Larry Sng preparing himself to join SUPP? If this could be the move, it would be likely that one of the vacant Assistant Minister’s posts allocated to SUPP be retained by Larry Sng in Taib’s coming reshuffled Cabinet. Would PRS ready for this loss? This would be a crucial question to answer and in the event if Larry Sng could no more find PRS as his home, anything could happen. Then, PRS may just demand that Dr. Johnical Rayong, the ADUN member from Engkili who had indicated to join SUPP, be “swapped” with Larry Sng. This may fit the State BN as the move could save face of both sides. In the event if it was agreed by the parties that Larry Sng be “swapped” with Dr. Johnical Rayong, will the Assistant Minister’s post allocated to PRS held by Larry Sng be re-allocated to PRS? The “swap” could be seen as having “taken away” from PRS the Assistant Minister’s post and PRS may just want the “taken away” post vacated by Larry Sng be given back to PRS. But, who in PRS could fit in the post left by Larry Sng in the event Larry Sng be forced to leave PRS?
Politically, the “swap” may create a bit of problem to Dr. Johnical Rayong, who had preferred to join SUPP. Soon after being elected, Dr. Johnical Rayong indicated his interest to join BN through SUPP. The reason behind of his choice of SUPP probably was guided by the factor that Engkilili was always SUPP’s stronghold and in that instance, it was more appropriate for him to join SUPP. The other party that had strong followings in Engkilili area previously was SNAP and PRS was never there. If Dr. Johnical Rayong be “forced” to go to PRS, can he retain the Engkilili seat as Engkilili was never a place for PRS, but, SUPP and SNAP?

Dr. Johnical Rayong will be caught at a crossroad and if not careful will also see the end of his political career there. SUPP and PRS may have to think hard of this formula and Taib may be put in a fix! This is because, recent political development in the area has seen PKR moving quite deep into the area and Dr. Johnical Rayong may face a strong candidate from his former “political friend” Nicholas Bawin, who previously was Dr. Johnical Rayong’s Protem Chairman in MDC in which Dr. Johnical Rayong was the Deputy. Recent indication is that Nicholas Bawin may likely to join PKR before the next state election in the event that his MDC would not be registered.

Now, another problem faced by the state BN is that the Deputy President of PRS, Dublin Unting, is still in comma, believed have been caused by a stroke. If anything goes wrong with him, PRS may have a daunting task to replace him as Dublin Unting is also an Assistant Minister in the Cabinet. With Dublin Unting still in comma, Larry Sng may probably rethink his next move. This in the last few days could give much headache to Taib because Taib must see that his Cabinet could keep going with least problem.

In the end, there may be no Cabinet reshuffle, not until the next state election which is just about two and half years away.

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