A former 'influential' sacked member of Parti Rakyat Sarawak is working the ground in the Julau constituency but party president James Masing is unperturbed.
KUCHING: The speculation here is that Sabah Peoples’ Front (SPF), which hit the headlines a few months ago following talk that Sabah Umno’s eastcoast warlord Lajim Ukin will defect to the party, is extending its reach to Sarawak under a new guise.
Paralleling a move by Sarawak-based State Reform Party (STAR) which opened an autonomous ‘branch’ in Sabah under the helmsmanship of Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, SPF here is apparently being led by a Taib Mahmud-ally, Sng Chee Hua.
For the past few weeks, Sng a former MP for Julau (1995-1999) has been active in the constituency prompting many to think that he is making a comeback after a 13-year absence from politics.
Sng is linked to the newly registered Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) that is planning to contest in Julau, Selangau, Kanowit and Hulu Rajang.
But according to sources, Sarawak Workers Party is actually SPF which had its constitution amended to allow for the name change. The change was approved by the Registrar of Societies a few days ago.
In Julau, Sng has been seeing some of his former supporters. Last week he was seen entertaining 200 people to dinner, the majority of them are supporters of the Meluan assemblyman Wong Judat and members of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
Although Judat was absent in the dinner, it seems that Sng has the ‘blessings’ of SPDP leadership to mount a challenge against the incumbent MP Joseph Salang Gandum of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).
It is common knowledge that Wong and Salang are on ‘unfriendly terms’ because of a road project in Meluan which went sour. According to reports, funds for the road project were withdrawn and transferred to another road project.
Salang reasoned that the fund had to be withdrawn as the plan for the road project was not ‘ready’ and it was then transferred to another project, otherwise the allocation would have be returned to the Finance Ministry.
Sng still ‘bitter’
But Judat refused to accept the explanation. Ever since then he has been very vocal against Salang, accusing him of taking away his project. He even called Salang an outsider and that he should not contest in Julau. Salang comes from a longhouse in Sarikei.
In the last state election, Salang and his supporters did not campaign for Judat in Meluan which is part of the Julau constituency. The other half is Pakan where SPF president William Mawan is incumbent.
Sng, who is seemingly taking advantage of the strained relationship between Salang and Judat, is confident of the support from voters who were once his strong supporters.
Sng who contested on a Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak-BN ticket in 1995 won the Julau seat with a majority of more than 10,000 votes.
But in the 1999 election he was dropped as a candidate for his alleged involvement in the Ummi Hafilda Ali-Anwar Ibrahim case.
Salang took over the constituency and remains its incumbent until today.
Sng is still furious for being dropped and is now vented his anger on Salang who is now PRS’ information chief.
Sng is also angry with PRS president James Masing who kicked him out of party after a leadership crisis.
Sng and Masing formed PRS after Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak was deregistered in October 2004. Masing became its president, while Sng was made the deputy.
Two years later Sng and Masing had major disagreements on how to run the party. So serious were disagreements that Masing had to expel Sng and his supporters from the party.
Until today Sng cannot forgive and forget Masing and tries to find every possible means to destabilise PRS.
His intention to contest in Julau and to sponsor others to contest in Selangau, Kanowit and Hulu Rajang is part of his strategy to undermine PRS.
Sng is apparently encouraged in doing so after he successfully helped his cousin George Lagong to defeat Masing’s man in Pelagus in the last state election.
Sng’s son is Larry, the controversial former Pelagus assemblymen who Masing sacked for insubordination and stubbornly refused to ‘allow’ any other party within the state BN coalition to accept him.
It is understood that he had also ‘influenced’ the federal-level BN to reject Larry’s application to contest as a ‘BN-direct’ candidate. Masing’s alleged ‘arrogance’ was in spite of the fact that Larry had the open support of Chief Minister Taib.
However Taib snubbed Masing when he retained partyless Larry as his Special Functions Minister for Youth Affairs despite the fact that Larry could not contest in last April’s state polls. Lagong is Larry’s uncle.
Sng is not a problem Meanwhile, Masing is unperturbed by Sng’s possible comeback. He doesn’t see it as a major threat in the coming election.
He said he is confident in defending the six seats that are being allocated to the party irrespective whoever will come their way.
“We take all challenges seriously, including from SWP, but I am confident we will be able to defend all our parliamentary seats,” he told reporters.
Saying that he is not surprised with Sng’s comeback plan, Masing who is Land Development Minister said: “Sng will do what he used to do when election is coming.
“He will muddy the water and leave the scene,” he said.