by Sebanaku Sarawak
KUCHING: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth Chief YB Fadillah Yusuf thought that he would certainly hit the political jackpot when he decided to tackle the Penan rape issue head on.
He thought that he could use the rape issue to elevate his image among the party members as well as leaders.
He also thought that he could silent the oppositions by declaring to all that the party youth wing would send its own fact-finding team to Ulu Baram to look out for the rape victims and subsequently lodge a police report after the team had found one.
And he also thought that he could impress his good and close friends in United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) by showing his political skills in handling the oppositions here in Sarawak.
Sarawak is basically his turf and thus he thought that he would have the upper hand in dealing with these West Malaysians.
It is also possible that he wanted to impress the State Barisan National (BN) top leadership, mainly the party president Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, by trying to be a hero in defending the state from the oppositions’ onslaught.
YB Fadillah Yusuf, who is also the Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, had missed the opportunity to show his loyalty to the party president Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud when Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was severely attacked by the oppositions due to the Canada issue.
Although the oppositions would surely try to make another disclosure as to whip up the rakyat’s dissatisfaction with the leadership Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, he knew that he could not bank on the similar issue to ingratiate himself with the party president.
If he started to talk loudly to defend the party president after the oppositions made another disclosure (if any), he would be the laughing stock of all BN senior leaders as someone else had done it earlier than him.
By now, all senior leaders of the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties should know that the Pelagus assemblyman YB Larry Sng Wei Shien had successfully capitalized on the Canada issue to ingratiate himself with the Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
In a way YB Larry Sng Wei Shien was smarter than the PBB Youth Chief because he didn’t have to shout through the media as to show his ‘loyalty’ to the top leadership – he just 'whispered' to the ears of a senior minister asking why the BN leaders, including the PBB Youth Chief YB Fadillah Yusuf, failed to defend Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
So, to shout his loyalty to Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud after YB Larry Sng Wei Shien ‘whispered’ his ‘loyalty’ through a senior minister would only make himself looked stupid.
Thus, in order not to be outdone by the party-less young politician, YB Fadillah Yusuf had came up with a grand idea to show to Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud that he was also a loyal soldier.
With the general election which is also around the corner, he needed to show to Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud that although he was busy performing his duty as the deputy minister in Semenanjung, his heart and soul are still with Sarawak.
So, in the interest of Sarawak, he came forward to defend the State.
However, he miscalculated his steps.
Firstly, he underestimated the intensity of the emotional factor in the case.
He wanted to challenge the oppositions based on the factual approach but the oppositions were smarter by focusing on the emotional factor of the case.
It is true that the Penan community ‘might’ has different value than other communities but a rape is still a rape.
It is possible that some of these women were actually claiming being raped after they were abandoned by their ‘lovers’ or ‘husbands’ or ‘spouses’.
They felt cheated and therefore they wanted to take revenge.
However, since the emotional factor is very strong in this case, it is suicidal act to sing different tune than the popular one.
Secondly, he thought that ALL of his comrades in the wing would stand firmly behind him over the official stance of the wing on the matter.
As it is now, most of the PBB Youth Exco members are distancing themselves from their youth chief who is severely criticized by the oppositions as well as non-governmental organizations for being ‘insensitive’.
The reason is they are afraid that they would become their youth chief’s tool to bolster his own political image in the party.
They know that YB Fadillah Yusuf is a type of a leader who doesn’t appreciate any past assistance given to him.
And YB Fadillah Yusuf’s decisions - to re-appoint Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi as the deputy secretary general and to ‘unconstitutionally’ appoint his former media officer Sharein Maloh as the wing’s Media Secretary - have further convinced them that their youth chief has not changed even a bit.
It was Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi who had ‘coaxed’ YB Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to stick to the original plan to contest against YB Fadillah Yusuf for the Youth Chief post in the party convention early this year.
Although later YB Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah spread the rumors that he was being challenged by Dato Sri Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar to contest, the truth is the decision to contest was pre-meditated.
YB Fadillah Yusuf also knew that on the night before the election day, Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi and YB Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had teamed up the Youth PBB Secretary General Gerald Rentap Jabu and the PBB Deputy President Dato Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg’s most trusted man Ibrahim Baki to coax the party youth members to vote for those who were in their list.
YB Fadillah Yusuf was fortunate that Dato Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg, Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi, YB Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Gerald Rentap Jabu and Ibrahim Baki didn’t get their way in getting all their men into the Exco under the Bumiputera quota.
If this happened, then YB Fadillah Yusuf would be a lame duck youth chief because both the Pesaka and Bmiputera wings were under the controlled of the Group of Five.
Although some elected Exco members are actually not in a good term with YB Fadillah Yusuf, at least they respect the chair of the Youth Chief. Thus, YB Fadilah Yusuf could still function as the Youth Chief although they are not his men.
By getting Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi re-appointed - by which YB Fadillah Yusuf had insulted the Bumiputera wing by asking a Pesaka wing member to propose Mohd Kamaluddin Mohd Effendi for the post which is meant for the Bumiputera wing – without consulting all elected Exco members, YB Fadillah Yusuf has shown to all that he doesn't ‘appreciate’ the past ‘assistance’ given to him by some of the elected Exco members.
And his decision to ‘unconstitutionally’ appoint his former media officer Sharein Maloh as the wing’s media secretary doesn't augur well with some of the Exco members.
Although YB Fadillah Yusuf, who has a legal background, told the press that the ‘unconstitutional’ appointment of Sharein Maloh as the Media Secretary didn’t dilute the authority of Abdul Aziz Tan Sri Adenan as the Youth Information Chief, words are spreading around that Abdul Aziz Tan Sri Adenan’s scope of duty has been limited to the party members only while YB Fadillah Yusuf's former media offer Sharein Maloh is to handle all maters related to the media and public, including being a media consultant to the wing.
All elected and appointed Exco members know very well that it was Abdul Aziz Tan Sri Adenan who has given him the life-line to continue to be the Youth Chief.
But due to his obsession to bolster his image as a charismatic leader, YB Fadillah Yusuf has decided to push Abdul Aziz Tan Sri Adenan out from the limelight so that he alone would get all the attention from the media – of course with the assistance of his former media officer Sharein Maloh who is also a former journalist.
However, it seems that YB Fadillah Yusuf and his media consultant Sharein Maloh have to go back to the drawing board to think of ways to make an early exit from the Penan rape issue or he is going to be further embarrassed by the oppositions for his ‘insensitive’ statement.
He has to act fast because his friends in United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) would start to have a good laugh at him if the embarrassment continues.
All youth members are now wondering: "Who is the next guy to be used and killed by Fadilah to bolster his political career?"
p/s Additional Information: Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr. Abdul Rahman Junaidi, who is one of the Dato Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg's lieutenant, was also busy calling PBB Pemuda members asking them to vote for those in the list which was earlier endorsed by his boss on the night before the election day.